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British Steel Tollcross Tube Works
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IBrown
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:17 am    Post subject:  Reply with quote Report this post to Mods

Moonbeam wrote:
......... I was up at Ravenscraig Sports Centre last year and drove by the old Clydesdale site. Very sad to my mind how industry has just collapsed. But that might get me on to a topic that possibly Ravenscraig should not have been built in 1956/57.It was a political decision by McMillan and the Tory government of the time. The Tories were the main political party-with most seats- in Scotland at this time and their MPs persuaded McMillan to pour millions into the Craig. Ravenscraig steel was not always as good as steel from other UK plants.
I sometimes had to do comparison analysis of steel from various UK plants and I know Ravenscraig steel strip had problems meeting Ford motor company quality requirements. I dont know if they ever succeded in meeting Ford requirements. We used to do a lot of inter works steel checking. Thus I checked Craigneuk/ Hallside steel along with Tollcross. Occasionally River Don, Port Talbot etc Ravenscraig was done monthly mainly to check out the labs were giving consistency with machine
analysis. But it did show the Craig was sometimes not as good quality wise as other plants in BSC. Output per man shift was a good as anywhere. But shear tonnage does not count if you cant get the quality.
Maybe controversial but from the quality angle the Japanese could undercut us in both price and quality for North Sea line pipe back in the late 1970s. If the Chinese really get there act together re steel etc then no one else will have a chance.


I can't disagree with you there. I do remember near the end 'The Craig' was getting good publicity with output increasing all the time. Guy behind getting it publicised may have been one of the Shop Stewards, cos his name was quoted in every one of them (along with his photo) and he appeared on TV too. He was always calling for more investment - can't remember but would it have been for new furnaces? Anyway it closed. But after work was transferred to Port Talbot / Llanwern, BSC Chairman was reported in media as saying he wasn't happy with their work, and maybe he'd closed the wrong plant.

But pundits said afterwards that the real political damage was in not having a Scottish Steel Industry. You can maybe blame a 1950s decision on the demise of one plant, but what of the wholesale slaughter that followed - Hallside was modernised then closed; Gartcosh rolling mill  was dismantled and shipped to China (probably a big future world competitor as you say), Glengarnock, Clyde Iron, LSW etc etc - and the tube works you've already mentioned - all gone - and so have all the smaller firms that supplied them.

Yes, I believe this was already on the cards - but there was supposed to be a new state of the art steel works built at Hunterston with a deep water port to supply it, and a skilled workforce from these closures to operate it. The bulk handling terminal was built, but not the steel works. And you've seen the bright new future that was supposed to be Ravenscraig business park - we're now what 20? years on, and all that is built there is a sports centre.
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Moonbeam
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Report this post to Mods

Is that not the roof at the top of the electric arc  furnaces in view top right corner??
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Alycidon
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Report this post to Mods

Moonbeam wrote:
Is that not the roof at the top of the electric arc  furnaces in view top right corner??


Yes it is, the only part of Clydesdale left is the Quench and Temper Plant, owned by a conglomorate of former French and German compeditors.  Even the Imperial Works is now flattened and a housing estate built on the site.  British Steel Corporation did not want the Imperial Works rebuilt, they had drawn up plans for a new plant behind the Quench and Temper, and the pipes would have been rolled straight into the new shop, but politics, in the shape of Jimmy Dempsey, long time Monklands MP got in the road, and he successfully lobbied for the Imperial to be rebuilt.  If ever there was a stupid decision that was it, comparative transport costs were huge, the Imperial was up on a hill, difficult to get into by road and rail.  Another good example of meddeling MPs ruining british industry.
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Moonbeam
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Report this post to Mods

I agree re a certain Airdrie MP. Imperial was not a steel union "shop" I think it was probably the only BSC works that was not a steel union "closed" shop. If BSC hads been allowed to close Imperial and rebuild the plant at Clydesdale tube could maybe still be made at Bellshill.
Absolutely crazy idea shipping steel tubes to pressure test and cut screwed threads on them a few miles up the road. Did you know "monty Python" ie  Mr Finneston who I met a few times actually had two Korf reduction plants brought in to Hunterston. God knows what happened to them. I think possibly a good hard acedemic study from maybe apost graduate student or students into the Scottish Steel industry since say 1945 or possible what happened under BSC ie nationalisation. At this time and distance away from MPs and shop stewards who could always get a sympathetic press might be a good idea. Certainly guys like myself and lots of other skilled workers ended up getting chucked on the scrap heap. Really as a result possibly of political interference. Guys in management were running around trying to get work-upgrade plants but there seemed to be this "political" dimension that gave orders to certain plants. I could on at length on this topic as I witnessed it first hand. I was at Sheffield-River Don etc where the guys were accusing the Scots of pinching orders etc,.Then work mysteriously went to South Wales.It was bad in management making uip p45s virtually monthly and you knew yoiur own named would be on one maybe next month.
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cell
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Report this post to Mods

Moonbeam,do you have any memory of any electrical power generation or a power station at Clydesdale works?

A country with an oil industry who gave up making pipes and tubes, don't get me started!
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Moonbeam
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Report this post to Mods

Yes absolutely crazy. The Japanese in the late 1970s were undercutting us on price, quality and delivery on line pipe, I think the Japs had boat loads of line pipe sailing up and down the North Sea ready to unload at 48 hours notice. Thats what it seemed like! How the government of the 1970s destroyed the steel industry. Too many MPs wanted their own little plant to survive. Really  Gartcosh should have been built at the Craig. Imperial, Calder and coatings at British plus Tollcross erection should all have been located to Bellshill. One integrated steel facility from Motherwell to Bellshill, The Hunterston affair wasted time money and effort and was really doomed from the start. Wrong side of the country. Redcar was on the right side. To keep open hearths in use long past their sell by date was another example. Glengarnock and Clyde Iron should have closed at the same time as Gartsherrie and work concentrated at the Craig. Hindsight is a wonderfull thing,
I dont recall a power station at Clydesdale. I seem to recall discussion with SSEB over the power lines etc need for the electric arcs. I am still in touch with an SSEB engineer from those days. I think an input of 42kva but will check.I know when it closed along with Ravenscraig about half the power of Hunterston was no longer needed.,
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Moonbeam
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Report this post to Mods

There were small diesel powered back up generators in the steel works. I only recall them being used during the three day week in the early 1970s.
They used to give problems-I suspect because they were so seldom used until the 3 day week. They were pretty small things and only seemed to be used for office lighting. Some bits of equipment in the labs could also run off them. The steel works "supply" was considered a "dirty" supply. The offices, canteens labs etc were on what was termed a "clean" supply.
I know SSEB spent a lot of time regarding the supply before the electric arcs went in to Clydesdale. Cost, supply lines etc etc I also know the supply line could give a much greater input than it was rated for as the SSEB thought that Clydesdale might be upgraded-due to all the North Sea confidence at that time- hence a lot of over capacity was built in. A sort of just in case extra power is required ie SSEB thought BSC woukd upgrade the tube mills , heat treatment etc as they were installing state of the art furnaces and North Sea oil was taking off along with other potential areas of exporting seamless line pipe. Dreams turned to dust?
No 1RF was past its best and No2 should really have been upgraded.
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cell
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2013 5:14 pm    Post subject: Ravenscraig Power Station Reply with quote Report this post to Mods

This thread seems to have expanded to include other BSC works, so I thought I’d post this here, feel free to move it if it should be elsewhere. Thought this might be of interest to someone  


















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dustmite
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Report this post to Mods

That makes an interesting read, it gives the lie to the oft-repeated claim that these large industrial concerns were antiquated, rotting, the equipment and processes past-it.  Construction was instead on a new site, uncompromised, inheriting nothing due to accident of history or circumstance, but was instead of the highest quality and versatility and utilising technology that would look not look or be out of place today.

I'm ever more certain that the de-industrialisation of Scotland did not take place purely, or primarily for economic reasons, but as a pre-emptive strike, an act of war, a slash and burn sabotage of the future viability of an independent Scotland, not unlike the post-ww2 Soviet ransack and pillage of their newly-acquired satellite states, including East Germany.  It is no stretch of the imagination or conspiratorial leap to see in the events of the 1980s, such deliberate savagery and looting.  I've never been a believer in the corrupt misinterpretation of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, taken to mean that if something can be bought more cheaply abroad than produced at home then the imported product should be the automatic choice - all that invisible hand nonsense - but instead feel that if something can be done at home then it should be done at home, above almost all other considerations.

The Westminster politicos stock explanation and argument against giving favour and priority to domestic endeavours - for use of untethered capital for foreign rather than home investment - the line we're fed with and uncritically told, is - with the example of the thirties given in dubious support - that this is 'protection' and inevitably it leads to war, but this inevitability that one must inviolably follow the other as some iron rule is not a credible argument, the thirtes seen the rise of dicators, aided by new communications such as radio, cinema and even television was coming, till placed on the back-burner, and of mass and still growing literacy , special one-off circumstances seized by madmen to further malign ends; protection: self-interested limits on the still today pretty extremist idea of free-trade, had very little or nothing to do with the catastrophe of the 39-45 war.

It's important not to become despondent as with control of our own country again inevitable, capabilities can be very quickly developed in the light of even greater new depth of knowledge, awareness of past mistakes, re-made better still than the most impressive works that have come and gone.  There are many domestic needs to meet determinedly, confidently, and see they provide a wide range of employment for many, from cottage industries to gargantuan works like Ravenscraig, and to see communities form around them, sustaining them that proudly play their part enabling small and vast enterprises while minimising their environmental harm and hazard to workers, for and with workers who have a stake in the re-building of the advanced self-sufficient nation we once were.
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Roger A
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2014 3:02 pm    Post subject: PED Reply with quote Report this post to Mods

Going slightly off topic, but I too worked for PED, on the Finance side, initially in the offices across the road from Wellington Works, but also for a while on one of their project construction sites at the Texaco Oil refinery in Pembroke, SW Wales.
I went to the site in about May/June 1979. A couple of months later, what seemed like a grumpy old (I was in my early 20's then, he was probably my sort of age now, as I said, old) a grumpy old Scotsman turned up on site, i.e. Willie Snedden, W.P. Snedden. He was quite particular about the way in which his surname was spelt, by the way. If anyone ever told me back then that he'd been the general manager at Tollcross, either it didn't register at the time or I have long since forgotten.
One of his quirks was that if ever you said thank you to him for whatever reason he would say "don't thank me, it's my nature" which - at the time - really used to wind me up. Then one day, I had cause to turn the tables on him, and in reply he said "baaaastered" in his broad accent, but then he  was good as gold with me after that.

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