Power Gas Letter from Company Metallurgist

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.

Michaelson Road Bridge built by Head Wrightson

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.

Stockton and Darlington Railway ‘Preston Park’

The Friends of the Stockton & Darlington Railway are holding their last walk on Wednesday 3 July meeting outside the main entrance to Preston Park Museum at 6pm.

The walk will take you along the original 1825 track-bed which runs through Preston Park and will be lead by Robin Daniels of Tees Archaeology.

Again all are welcome to come along and to finish we will steam along to the Locomotion in nearby Station Road for drinks and nibbles.

Former Hardwick School Teacher receives an MBE

I met Mrs Edith Timm (nee Francis) on board RMS St Helena sailing from Cape Town to St Helena. Edith was returning from London having received her MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for 2012. She taught in Stockton for some years in the 1960s at Hardwick School.  Later she was Principal of the Prince Andrew School on her native St Helena.  Maybe some former pupils remember her…

Photographs and details courtesy of Paul Dee.

Synthonia 3rd Cricket Team

A photograph of the Synthonia  3rd Division North Yorkshire and South Durham League, during World War II. Mr Alexander was the wicket keeper. Apparently when a bomb dropped on the Synthonia cricket club square, the groundsman would not allow mechanical diggers onto the pitch, but wheeled all the debris away in wheelbarrows to protect the pitch, ‘it was a beautiful, beautiful pitch, no county could compare with it!’.

Stockton and Darlington Railway ‘Yarm Branch’

The Friends of the Stockton & Darlington Railway are holding their second survey walk and social meeting on Wednesday 26 June, meeting at Allens West Junction at 6pm and as ever, all are welcome to come along. We will be walking along Durham Lane to The Cleveland Bay, the worlds first railway pub and it’s original name gives a clue and it will be revealed on the night !

We will be passing the original station keepers house next to Allens West and also the S&DR agents house with it’s distinctive D13 plaque still in place.

Light refreshments will be available and a model of the 1825 Yarm Depot will also be on display.