10 thoughts on “ICI Billingham c1975

  1. Ah ICI, the three letters that persuaded my to go back in the army for another 6 years, I know many of my friends and relatives spent many a year working for ICI quite happily, but not me. I was dying of boredom within six months of joining the company. Everything had to be done by certain work practices, union rules etc and individual initiative was frowned up quite firmly. Anyway ICI was indeed a very good employer for its staff over the decades it existed, I was sorry to see it go it was a benefit to local communities benefit even if it did not suit me.


  2. Have only just picked up on Dave Yates and Edward Georges comment that the steam reformers at ICI Billingham were part of the methonal plant.

    I would guess that they ran more like the Britush Gas steam reformers, running at a lower outlet temperature ( but perhaps not a higher pressure) to increase the proportion of carbon monoxide.

    Steam reformers for hydrogen run at higher temperatures and lower pressures and with a higher steam/ naphtha ratio. These would be used in the manufacturer of ammonia. However in recent years the development of secondary reforming has premitted pressures to be higher.

    But did Billingham continue on with ammonia manufacture in the 1970s?


  3. From our garden on central avenue in the early 80s, I can remember looking toward Belasis and seeing three tall slim chimneys, which were demolished one at a time. I would have been an infant. Would it have been these chimneys? Somehow I had an older shape in my mind.


  4. Ken Atkins and I were chums having served our National Service together until we were posted, he to aircraft carrier HMS Bulwark (Ordnance Engineer Officer), myself to a ‘stone frigate HMS Goldcrest), Air Engineer Officer. Happy days.


  5. I’m looking for any further memories or information about the early days of the Heysham site particularly about the wartime process, and the original purpose of n01 methane steam plant at heysham site. I would also like to know what the wartime process of the ICI and shell sites of “trimpell” at heysham actually was. I Know it was ultimately the production of 100 octane aviation fuel. What did the ICI site do, what did shell site do (produce iso-octane ?) and how did they inter relate ?


  6. I have subsequently found out that the first ICI steam reformer was built at Heysham at Lancashire, as Edward George writes. The main contractor for building these plants was H&Gs, but to increase competition Power Gas of Bowesfield Lane also got a licence from ICI. The original ICI plants all used downward firing burners in a square shaped furnace, but later on Woodhall Duckham and Foster Wheeler utilised side wall fired furnaces. However the real breakthrough by ICI was the development of the ICI 46/1 catalyst, which most companies used for a number of years.


  7. This type of steam reforming was developed at Billingham and the technology was then used by the UK Gas Boards to make “towns gas” from naphtha. The gas was produced at pressure which allowed it to be transmitted from a few centralised plants. The main one for Teeside was at West Hartlepool Without this development there is a very good chance that the gas industry would have been closed down. It was a much cleaner less polluting process than the gasifcation of coal. It saved a huge amount of manpower.30 people could cover all the shifts on such a plant. A normal old fashioned gas works would have needed 500 people. The aim at Billingham was to produce a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. This mixture could subsequently be used to make ammonia, nitric acid or urea, all raw materials for fertilisers. This type of steam reforming using cheap naphtha ( this was very cheap in the 1960″s) was another first for Teesside and we should be proud of it.


  8. The four chimneys are indeed those of the 4 steam reforming plants which were commissioned in 1962 and, once problems were resolved, resulted in closure of the coke ovens, gas plant etc. Originally using naptha as feedstock they were later convertede to natural gas. The first two steam reforming plants to be commissioned were at Heysham. I was one of the plant engineers at the start up of the reformers. The section engineer was Ken Atkins and the section manger was george Morgan. The two plant managers were George Longstaff and Norrie Lamb. We three were lent to Heysham to assist with their start up in late 1961. The two cooling towers were called Gert and Daisy. The building to the right of what is actually the rump of T2 was part of the Engineering Workshops. CO2 removal had been demolished by the time this photo was taken. I remember watching the chimneys being built and I have as a memento a brick taken when they were demolished.


  9. The four chimneys belong to Steam Reform/No.1 Methanol Plant. I worked on shift there from 1977 [B Shift under Len Tart] until 1982 [D Shift under Terry Cassidy]. The 3 storey building in the foreground is T2 Compression with the CO2 Removal Plant to its right.


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