In 1977 I had a year offshore working as a materials controller on the Brent Delta oil rig. The company I worked for was called Vauldale Engineers based at Portrack in Stockton. They had the contract to supply the Electrical installations for the oil rig. Many of the chaps I worked with came from the Stockton area.
Turn the clock forward 40 years and the now redundant Brent Delta was towed to Hartlepool to be scrapped at the Able Wharf facility. All 24000 tons of it. They were saying there would be a 97% recycling rate for this tonnage. These two pictures show the rig in position in the North Sea. Moored next to it was the accommodation barge the Nortrym. Normally attached to the Brent Delta by the clearly seen bridge the Nortrym only moved away during stormy weather. I recall spending a night or two sleeping on the floor of the Brent Delta. You had to use your boots as a pillow or they could ”walk” during the night.
Photographs and details courtesy of Martin Birtle.
Head Wrightson made the legs for this drilling rig.
Photograph and details courtesy of Tony Campbell.
The sad demise of a once long standing family company in Stockton-on-Tees. These are some of the last known images of Harkers Engineering taken around 2006, when the machines were being dismantled prior to being shipped to new owners. I worked there from 1987 until 2006. Excellent company to work for during the 80’s and 90’s.
Photograph and details courtesy of Derek Proctor.
Close up view of the Cleveland Flour Mill, The North of England Pure Oil Cake Co. Limited, Tees Bone Mill and the old stone bridge, Thornaby c1880s.
These two images are taken from a 1929 ICI publication entitled A Short Account Of The Activities Of The Company, a hardback limited edition book.
The first is of some of the ICI housing built for the factory workforce with this particular location being at the junction of Mill Lane and New Road and a scene little altered in 70 years.
The second image is of one of the storage silos showing the conveyor system along its roof and then down into the rail cars below. Only one of the many silos built now remains and that can be seen to the east of Haverton Hill Road but this particular silo could well be 5 Silo which stood on Nitrates Avenue close to the fire station?
Details courtesy of David Thompson.
ICI Billingham in the early 1930’s as the factory was being expanded at a huge pace. I originally thought that this was Oil Works in the south west corner of the site and very close to the area bounded by New Road and Mill Lane,
the tank farm was in that area although what looks to be the twin towers of Newport Bridge in the distance now makes me less certain?
The columns were built by Ruston of Lincoln, a long established heavy engineering company whose factory stood for over 100 years before being demolished earlier this year and the site cleared for new housing. The gable wall carrying the company name became something of a local feature but a local campaign to keep and preserve it failed and it too was demolished.
The name of Kellogg Coy on the column refers to the American engineering and construction company who were still associated with ICI in the 1970’s and built their pioneering and then world leading ammonia production plants.
Details courtesy of David Thompson. Photo credits to the ICI Archives and Kevin Turner.
A planing and moulding machine and on the right an automatic loader at F. Hills & Sons Ltd.
This is the Mark II radio telescope under construction by Head Wrightson in 1963. When completed it was transported to its home at the Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire. Jodrell Bank (www.jodrellbank.net) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2017 the Mark II was designated as a Grade I listed building, the highest grading awarded to buildings of “exceptional interest”.
The Mark II is part of the MERLIN array of radio telescopes. (That’s Multi-Element Radio Linked Interferometer Network in case it comes up as a pub quiz question and you want to impress your team mates). The array consists of up to seven radio telescopes observing phenomena such as galaxies, quasars and interstellar gas clouds. We knew Head Wrightson’s work went around the world, but we can see it also reached far out into the universe…
If you worked on the telescope or knew people who did please let us know!
Photographs taken in ICI prior to demolition c1991.
Photographs courtesy of David Dawson.
Gordon Harnby was the company metallurgist for Power Gas, who at that time were the leaders in constructing steam reformers for the manufacture of town gas. The actual process had been developed by ICI Billingham. Their big innovation was that the process could use naphtha (cheap petrol). It was the technology that saved the British Gas Industry, greatly reducing the cost of gas. Furthermore, because the gas was supplied at high pressure, it could be piped over a wide area. Much of Teesside was supplied from a steam reforming plant at Hartlepool. The letter heading shows that by 1967 the company had been absorbed by Davy United.
However, the reformed gas boilers on these plants suffered from a serious corrosion problem, and Power Gas was cooperating with the R&D people in British Gas at London Research Station to find a solution. I eventually took over this job and met Gordon on a couple of occasions. Once at Bowesfield Lane. The letter from Gordon is to my predecessor, Peter Neufeld, and is full of good advice about the materials we should use in constructing a “side stream test rig” for testing more resistant boiler tubes.
The other picture reveals the cause of the corrosion. You are looking at the tube plate of a fire-tube type boiler. White potassium carbonate, carried over from the reformer, has deposited on the entrance of the tubes. When the boiler is operating, the deposit formed a sticky sludge which was highly corrosive, resulting in burst boiler tubes.
Images and details courtesy of Fred Starr.
The Michaelson Road Bridge in Barrow-in-Furness was built in two stages to replace the old Lift and Roll bridge by Head Wrightson c1960s. Due to submarines being built in the same area, the bridge was constructed in a vertical position and once complete it was maneuvered into its horizontal position.
Photograph and details courtesy of Tony Campbell.
A model view of BTP Tioxide.
Photograph and details courtesy of Malcom Corner.
A photograph showing the entrance to Norton Cleansing Depot, Norton High Street c1970.
Construction of the foundations and retaining walls of the fitting out basin at Haverton Hill Shipyards on the 22 July 1919.
A view of the Spare Mans Hut. Taken at Cargo Fleet Works in September 1986.
Photograph and details courtesy of Robert Greenwell.
A ‘Memories of ICI’ event was held in the High Grange Community Centre in Billingham on Sunday 14 October 2018 which was organised by Billingham North Ward councillors Chris Barlow and Lauriane Povey and supported by the Billingham Legacy Foundation . Together they had managed to loan some of the Teesside Archives collection relating to the three local ICI sites at Billingham, North Tees and Wilton and had on display bound copies of the various ICI in-house newspapers and magazines such as the ‘Billingham Post’ as well as a vast collection of photographs, training manuals and technical drawings. There were also several loaned items from retired company workers including both long service medals and watches.
Because of the success of this first event another one is taking place at the same venue on Sunday 10 March, 10am to 4pm with free tea, coffee and cake too – a must for any former ICI employee or anyone interested in local history. Highly recommended!
For more details contact Cllr Chris Barlow; email@example.com
Photographs and details courtesy of David Thompson.