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1949 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Visits to Works

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Note: This is a sub-section of 1949 Institution of Mechanical Engineers



Automatic Telephone and Electric Co

This firm is the largest telephone engineering and manufacturing organization in the British Commonwealth. It is a member of a group of companies whose combined capital approaches £30,000,000. It employs approximately 10,000 persons of both sexes, has upwards of 750,000 square feet of manufacturing space, and has an annual turnover in excess of £6,000,000.

The company was formed in 1912 and its main products are Strowger automatic telephone exchange apparatus and line transmission equipment for public service. The principal customers are the large state and privately owned telephone administrations throughout the world and include the British post office, the South African, Australian, and Indian governments, the Anglo-Portuguese Telephone Company, etc. Their requirements are generally provided on the basis of long-term bulk supply agreements. Other products sold extensively at home and abroad to electrical power administrations, municipalities, railways, and the like are electromatic road signals, supervisory remote indication and control equipment for power networks, etc., rythmatic ripple control equipment for street lighting and other electrical load control requirements and mine signalling equipment.

Although established less than forty years ago, the company has pioneered a number of developments including the director system, which enabled automatic telephony to be applied to the complex requirements of London and other metropolitan areas; the 32A selector (British post office type 2,000) which effected immense improvement in the speed and efficiency of Strowger automatic telephony and brought about important economies in operation; the first all-electric totalisator for race courses; the first vehicle-actuated road signals in Europe; and as an aid to the navigational requirements of the R.A.F. during the recent world war, the distant reading compass which rendered possible such bombing raids as those on the Mohne and Eder dams.

These and many other equally outstanding electrical developments of the past thirty-five years have resulted from intensive research carried out in the company's extensive and well equipped laboratories. To keep abreast of scientific research generally and ahead of customers' probable requirements, the company employs a large staff of specialists in many subjects including acoustics, thermionics, electronics, piezo-electric and photo-electric phenomena and transmission theory, apart from metallurgists and chemists whose efforts are directed towards ensuring that all products will perform satisfactorily in service over long periods under all climatic conditions. In conjunction with its well-known associated company, British Insulated Callender's Cables, Ltd., the company also maintains an important radio research unit - British Telecommunications Research, Ltd., at Taplow, Bucks, where a variety of problems are investigated independently for the ultimate benefit of the parent organizations.

Wholly owned subsidiary companies include Elexcel, Ltd., Liverpool, manufacturers of a range of electric domestic appliances; Hivac, Ltd., Harrow, manufacturers of miniature and midget thermionic valves for deaf aids, etc.; Pioneer Manufacturing Company, Ltd., which produces loud-speaking master stations and substations for office and works intercommunication telephone systems; and Communication Systems, Ltd., which has been established with branch and maintenance depots in all parts of Great Britain to market, on simple rental terms, the private automatic telephone exchanges and intercommunication telephone equipment manufactured both by the parent company and its subsidiaries, and also the public address sound equipment manufactured by Radio Gramophone Development Company, Ltd., Bridgnorth, an associate company.

Exploitation of the company's products in the Dominions and several foreign countries is carried out through a number of associated sales companies controlled by the company's export department, London, and elsewhere abroad through a large number of agents and representatives. In addition to the main plant at Strowger Works, the company owns other manufacturing units at Fazakerley and Speke, Liverpool, where the production of important subsidiary products and components is effectively concentrated. Visitors to the main factory at Strowger Works, although invariably impressed by its size, are mainly intrigued by the variety and number of processes carried on and by the skilful dexterity of the operatives in the spacious machine and assembly departments. Modern production control methods obtain throughout the organization and with the exception of a few components, the company relies entirely upon its own resources for the conversion of raw materials through every stage to the finished product.


W. V. Bowater and Sons

This company is one of the major units of the Bowater Organization, whose activities throughout the world are widely known. The organization owns timber limits and pulp mills in Newfoundland, Sweden, and Norway; a large newsprint mill and associated activities in Newfoundland; and in England four paper mills, a clay mine, and conversion units.

The Ellesmere Port mill was built in 1930, and extended to double its capacity four years later; it was originally designed to make newsprint on all four machines, with a capacity of 125,000 tons per annum, but one machine was converted during the 1939-45 war for the manufacture of speciality products and now alternates between newsprint and toilet tissue. The raw materials are wood pulp and a small amount of china clay, which are unloaded from ocean going ships at the private wharf-1,100 feet long and 80 feet wide—on the Manchester Ship Canal. Fireless locomotives bring the wood pulp to overhead Goliath travelling cranes of 80-foot span for stacking. The pulp then passes into the breaker house where it is disintegrated in water to form a fluid mass called "stuff". China clay, previously mixed with water in a reinforced concrete building, is added and after refining the stuff is then pumped to the paper machine through a meter, which automatically controls the quantity passed; the stuff is diluted to a consistency of per cent fibre to 991 per cent water, as it passes through screens to prevent knots of fibres passing on to the paper machines. The four paper machines are 300 feet long and 20 feet wide and are housed in a machine room 96 feet by 450 feet. An endless woven wire cloth 90 feet long receives the stuff from the screens, the upper portion, supported on rollers, acting as a table on which the paper is formed. A considerable quantity of the water is removed, and the paper is brought by the wire to the suction press rolls, after which it passes to drying cylinders which are 5 feet in diameter and supplied with steam at 10 lb. per sq. in. Cotton, or asbestos and cotton, "felts" convey the paper through the double bank of dryers, where hot air is blown on the felts and removed through a hood above the dryers by eight fans having a total capacity of 320,000 cu. ft. of air per min. A surface is imparted to the paper by finishing calenders, consisting of five chilled iron rolls, after which the paper is wound on to steel shells 14 inches in diameter. Special electrical interlock drives maintain the set relationship of the speeds of the various parts of the machine. The paper is reeled up into reels weighing approximately 2 tons and is then, in the case of newsprint, passed to a supercalender consisting of ten rolls running at a maximum speed of imparted to ft. per min., where a further degree of finish is to the sheet. From the supercalender the reels pass to the final stage, slitting and winding on to the cores required by the press rooms. On the winder any breaks in the sheet are joined, to ensure a continuous web being available on each reel. The finished reels are usually about 36 inches in diameter and 66-70 inches long, and are passed from the winder over weighing platforms to the packing room. The two reel stores are each 80 feet wide and 558 feet long, with a capacity for 6,000 tons of paper.

Practically all the power used on the site is produced from five Babcock and Wilcox boilers with a capacity of 60,000 lb. per hour, working at 350 lb. per sq. in. One 6,000 kW. and one 9,000 kW. turbo-alternator of the pass-out type are installed, that generate three-phase alternating current at 3,300 volts and 50 cycles per second frequency, which is used for all motors except those rated lower than 100 h.p., in which case the voltage is transformed to 440 volts; for lighting purposes the current is transformed to 110 volts single-phase. Three boreholes 700 feet deep supply fresh water, which is treated in a large softening plant. Elaborate means of fire prevention are installed, most buildings being fitted with sprinklers and some with drenchers. In the coal yard a coal-handling plant and transporter deals with the 2,000 tons consumed each week.


British Enka Artificial Silk Co

The firm of British Enka, Ltd., was formed in 1926 for the preparation of rayon yarns by the viscose process, in collaboration with the Algemeene Kunstzijde Unie N.V. of Holland, which assisted at the outset in the provision of technical information and various secret processes. The factory is located at Aintree and covers an area of approximately sixty acres, of which twenty-six acres are covered by buildings.

The process consists of converting cellulose, obtained in the form of sheets of wood pulp from Canada and Scandinavia, into continuous threads of rayon yarn by the viscose process discovered by two English chemists, Cross and Bevan, in 1892. The cellulose sheets are first soaked in a solution of caustic soda of mercerising strength (approximately 18 per cent) at room temperature. After soaking a predetermined time, the sheets are pressed free of the excess caustic soda to a controlled press weight.

The alkali-cellulose sheets are then shredded in machines to yield a light fluffy form of sodium cellulose, known as white crumbs, and these white crumbs are stored in boxes, under controlled temperature conditions, for periods varying from three to four days depending upon the subsequent use of the product. After the ripening or ageing period, the white crumbs are treated with carbon bisulphide to yield cellulose xanthate, known as yellow crumbs. These yellow crumbs are soluble in caustic soda and the resulting solution is known as viscose. There is a serious fire and explosion hazard in this operation as carbon bisulphide is highly inflammable, and smoking is, therefore, strictly prohibited in this part of the works.

The solution of cellulose is ripened in large tanks for a period of approximately three days until it is ready for spinning, when the viscose liquid is moved by compressed air pressure from the viscose storage room to the spinning room, after a series of severe filtrations to remove particles of dirt. The solution is then pressed through fine jets, or spinerettes, having holes of approximately mm. in diameter, into a solution of hot dilute sulphuric acid where continuous threads of rayon, or cellulose, are produced. The threads are collected in a centrifugal pot rotating at 6,000 r.p.m., known as the "Topham box", which not only serves to collect the yarn in package form but at the same time twists all the parallel threads produced from one spinerette into a compact thread with a twist of 2+ turns per inch.

During the spinning operation there is some emission of hydrogen sulphide gas and carbon bisulphide vapour, and it is essential to have efficient ventilation systems to remove these products immediately on their formation so as to prevent eye trouble or sickness to the spinning operatives; the gases are passed through scrubbing units to purify them before being liberated into the air. In the spinning department all the air displaced by the ventilation of the spinning machines has to be replaced by air drawn into the room, heated and humidified to a humidity of 85 per cent to promote good spinning conditions.

The rate of corrosion on the spinning machines, owing to the use of caustic soda solutions, strong acid solutions, and the amount of humid acid vapours, is extremely high and necessitates a constant rota of overhaul in the room.

After spinning, the acid cakes are stored in humidity chambers and are given identification marks indicating the different types of yarn. Then follows the process of bleaching by various chemical solutions in order to remove the acid, dissolved salts, dirt, and unwanted metals, etc. After bleaching, the yarn is dried in either stationary or continuous ovens, taking from four to twelve days depending upon the use to which the yarn will be subsequently put. After drying the yarn has a moisture content of approximately 4 per cent and it is necessary to store the yarn in a conditioning room to acquire a uniform moisture content of 11 per cent, which is standard for rayon yarns.

At this stage the yarn is sorted and examined for any faults which might cause trouble in subsequent processes. The cakes of yarn are then packed in cases, or wound into various forms of packages such as cones, cheeses, or bobbins, and despatched to customers. To a great extent the yarn is delivered in Great Britain by the company's own fleet of transport vehicles and the company has sales organizations, either as branch offices or agencies, in the main textile areas of England and Scotland.

The normal textile yarns are made in various thicknesses or diameters (known as deniers) and these are supplied to textile firms of various kinds in the country. The firm has also now developed a very extensive export trade as direct yarn sales, in addition to the large percentage of the product which is shipped as an indirect export in the form of piece goods.

The firm is concerned only in the production of yarn and not in the production of any fabrics, although the yarns which are produced find application in almost every outlet in the textile trade. It also operates its own process of dyeing yarn and has so far produced a range of approximately two hundred shades.

The process is highly technical and is under constant control by chemists and engineers; all the principal technical officers and management officers live either on the works site or within fifteen minutes' journey.

The steam and power for the works is supplied by a very modern power station which is now in course of erection; an interesting application of some of the electric power so generated consists of variable high frequency from 100 to 125 cycles for motor speeds of 6,000 to 7,200 r.p.m. by means of mercury arc rectifiers. The company obtains its own water from four wells which are sunk to depths of about 500 feet, the weekly consumption of water being about 11,000,000 gallons.

The company employs 2,300 people and has up-to-date training and induction schemes with a flourishing sports and social club. There is a pension scheme for the staff and a modified one for all the employees, and a modern works hospital is now in course of completion.

A large percentage of the employees consists of engineering staff engaged on maintenance work as, owing to the process being of a chemical nature, many serious corrosion problems are encountered and, in addition to the usual machine shop, a permanent staff is carried of electricians, leadburners, builders, joiners, painters, heating and ventilating engineers, and chemical plumbers. The process is divided into three groups, (a) chemical, (b) mechanical with male workers, and (c) textile with female workers.

The company is a member of the British Rayon Federation and of the National Employers' Association of Rayon Yarn Producers, and active joint consultative machinery has been in operation for some years between the producers and the trades unions. A very healthy works council is in operation and has been functioning for twenty-one years.



The Prescot factory has grown rapidly and continuously since it was first established in 1891, and it is now the largest of the company's five main works. The factory forms a complete unit, having its own copper and aluminium mills, wire-drawing and cable-making plant, and accessories of every kind, and almost all of its output is manufactured from the raw material. Its activities are not confined to cable-making, though that is its principal output, for it produces copper and aluminium sheets, rods, wires, and sections, has its own iron and brass foundries, and makes an immense variety of cable accessories, electric resistance welding machines, magnetic moulding machines, fittings of every kind for overhead line work, both power and traction, electricity meters and paper pinions.

The works are equipped with railway sidings throughout and extensive use is made of battery trucks for the transport of material between departments. Battery tractors are m use for heavy loads.

The Prescot factory covers more than 176 acres and employs some 9,200 persons and, as already mentioned, its principal output is paper insulated cables and their accessories. In the refinery, the blister copper, as received from the mines of Rhodesia, is charged into furnaces where it is refined and poured into moulds for use in the rolling mills and extruding shops. The bar used in rolling is approximately square in section and pointed at the ends to facilitate entry into the rolls of the mill. These bars, technically known as wire-bars, weigh approximately 250 lb. Larger sizes, known as trolley bars, are used for trolley wires and railway conductors, where long lengths of large diameters are required.

After the bars have been heated to bright red, they are rolled first in a three-high mill to a size suitable for the intermediate rolls, where they are passed twice; the rod then goes on to the finishing rolls, where it has a maximum of nine passes and is reduced to what is technically known as black rod, usually I-inch diameter if intended for wire drawing. The whole operation is performed in one heat and takes about one minute. The rods are coiled on an automatic or semi-automatic winder and stacked on the floor to cool.

There are three rod mills at Prescot. The largest is of the latest continuous type with oil-fired, reheating furnaces. It is complete with hydraulic charging machines, automatic bar-handling devices, repeaters for the rolls, and automatic winding gear. The mills are electrically driven. The black rod is next pickled to remove rolling mill scale, and, after washing, passes to the heavy wire-drawing shop, where it is drawn to size on automatic machines. After leaving the automatics, the wire is annealed. At this stage it is undesirable to spoil its surface or lose any of the copper in annealing, so the process is carried out in furnaces from which air is excluded. The wire passes in and out through a water seal, on a continuous chain carrier, and emerges clean and bright as it entered, entirely free from oxides. Wire to be reduced to smaller sizes passes to another shop where it is drawn down through diamond dies. These are expensive but extremely enduring and retain their accuracy in a high degree, turning out large quantities of wire to gauge before they have to be lapped out again for larger sizes. There is in the wire mill a diamond plant equipped with the most modern machines. Not all the copper which comes from the rod mill is used in cable manufacture. Much of it is drawn to sizes suitable for silk, cotton, or enamel covering, or flattened into strips for armature, field, and transformer windings, or made into overhead conductors for electric railways, trolley wires, telegraph and telephone line wires, and copper fuse wires. The extruding shop is complete with powerful hydraulic presses and reheating furnaces, pickling plant, etc.; the processes of the rod and wire mills are repeated there, with suitable modifications. Cylindrical copper billets, raised to a bright red heat, are extruded through special dies in a variety of shapes in straight lengths or coils as required. They are then pickled and drawn on powerful mechanical draw benches to dead sizes. Some sections, however, are not drawn but extruded to exact size and cut into short lengths—an economical and accurate method of producing articles such as controller fingers. This process has important electrical and mechanical advantages, as compared with production in the foundry. The strength of an aluminium strand, which is produced similarly to copper, can be raised by reinforcing it with a steel core. This is the practice adopted for the electricity Grid schemes, and Prescot has supplied a very large quantity of steel-cored aluminium strand for this purpose. Large quantities of copper wire are sent to the Helsby and Leigh works and elsewhere for use in rubber or bitumen cables, lighting wires, flexible cords, etc. Wire for use in cables with a vulcanized insulation has, of course, to be tinned. The bare wire is mounted on a swift in a tub of slightly acid water to remove any traces of oxide, and thence passes progressively through a cleaning wipe, a bath of flux, and the molten tin. On emerging through a wiper which removes excess tin it is then cooled and taken off on to a reel, being untouched by hand during the process. In the power cables department the first process is that of stranding in which a number of individual wires are laid up to form the desired size of conductor. The copper strand or cable core then passes to the insulating section where successive lappings of paper are applied until the appropriate thickness of insulation is built up. The cores are then laid up with the usual filling and additional lappings of paper overall, if required. Drying and compounding follows, and in this process a skeleton drum containing the cable is placed in a vacuum tank for the removal of all possible moisture, after which the tank is flooded with insulating compound and pressure applied until the paper is thoroughly impregnated. The cable is then passed through a lead press where it receives a sheathing of lead and is wound on to a wooden drum. The many lead presses at Prescot are of various sizes suitable for covering large multicore cables or small house wires. The smaller presses are also used for extruding resin-cored solder, lead strip, lead seals and glazing sections, all regular articles of manufacture. After lead sheathing the cable is ready for testing. The test house is a large building 240 feet long with ample floor space for handling drums, and three tanks into which the drums are lowered for their specified time under water. Both sides of the building are occupied by operators' rooms, test bays, and galleries so that cables can be lifted straight out of the tanks and transferred to the test bays with the greatest convenience. Routine testing covers copper resistance, insulation resistance, capacity, and the standard pressure test. When the testing has been completed, the drum of cable is ready to be lagged up and despatched, unless it has to be armoured, in which case it goes to the adjacent armouring department, a still larger building, equipped with machines for both wire and tape armouring. Here the cable receives its protective coverings of compound jute and steel. A final test is required after armouring, so the cable returns to the test house once more, to be pressure tested again, after which it is ready for despatch. Adjacent to the armouring department is a building laid out as a complete cable factory, where stranded copper enters at one end and the finished lead covered cable leaves at the other. This building is remarkable for its proportions, 520 feet long by 105 feet wide, with three cranes spanning the entire width. In addition to roof lights, both sides of the building are glazed to give the maximum of natural lighting, the windows being the largest of their kind ever made in this country.


Brown, Bibby and Gregory

The Speke factories were designed and built in 1938, and the two main buildings measure 145 feet by 968 feet and 300 feet respectively. They are of unique design in that construction is by a series of concrete frames built as central arches with side wing abutments, making possible vast areas of clear working space. The machine room, without one single pillar, measures 90 feet by 968 feet. Steam, electrical, water, and gas services are carried throughout the factory in service tunnels beneath the floor. The part of the factory containing the printing departments is air conditioned. About seven hundred and fifty people are employed upon the printing and manufacture of labels, cartons, wrappers, and bags.


Cammell, Laird and Co

The company was founded more than a hundred years ago and since that time approximately 1,200 ships have been built. The firm were pioneers in the application of iron to shipbuilding, their first iron vessel having been built in 1829; they were also the pioneers of steel shipbuilding, having built in 1858 the first steel paddle vessel the Ma Robert in which Dr. Livingstone carried out his work on the Zambesi.

In 1838 they built the first screw steamer to cross the Atlantic, which was the Robert F. Stockton. The works cover an area of 114 acres with a river frontage of 3,100 feet. There are ten building berths, ranging up to 1,100 feet in length, which are provided with overhead cranes and the latest devices for handling materials. There are also seven graving docks, the largest of which is 860 feet long, and a fitting out basin of 15 acres water area. The entrance to this basin is 140 feet wide and is closed by a sliding pontoon. There is a fixed crane to lift 100 tons, and a floating crane which will lift 200 tons and can be brought speedily alongside any vessel in the basin where heavy armament, machinery or boilers are to be shipped. The works are equipped for the use of electric power and for compressed air and hydraulic power; a very large installation of low-pressure electric mains is also installed for electric welding in all departments.

The gross tonnage which can be produced annually is over 100,000 tons and the engineering works are capable of producing machinery and boilers equivalent to over 450,000 h.p. At present there are approximately 10,000 employees, who are engaged on ships of all descriptions which constitute a full programme for the next two to three years. The most notable ships built by the company include the 34,000-ton passenger liner Mauretania, the 35,000-ton battleship Prince of Wales, the great 22,000-ton aircraft carrier Ark Royal, and the 35,000-ton battleship Rodney. The Mauretania is the largest mercantile vessel ever built in England and in herself forms a striking tribute to the capabilities of the company. The company's shipbuilding contribution to the 1939-45 war effort was unsurpassed throughout the country. In addition to a large number of small craft, the company built for the Admiralty no fewer than eighty-six ships, including one battleship and two aircraft carriers, and they also carried out major repair work on many others. Many merchant ships were also docked and repaired during the six years of war.


Clarence Dock Power Station

Four years before the first electricity bill of 1882, Liverpool had installed one arc lamp. In 1883 the Liverpool Electric Supply Company, Ltd., was formed, and this resulted in the operation of four small generating stations twelve years later. In the same year, the corporation bought the company and it continued as a municipally owned undertaking until, in 1948, it was taken over by the British Electricity Authority. Clarence Dock Power Station was inaugurated in 1928, when a special committee was formed to make plans for the new power station. Mr. P. J. Robinson, who was at that time the city electrical engineer, developed and put into execution the plan for building the new station on the bed of a dock. The site was practicable in every way: the sandstone rock formed a perfect foundation, the site was near an inexhaustible supply of water, and that half of the dock which was not needed for the buildings of the actual power station was available for coal storage and, furthermore, could be flooded to tide level and thus give a much greater storage capacity for fuel by limiting the risk of spontaneous combustion. In 1929 the work started on this power station, and two years later the first 50,000 kW. turbo-alternator was in commission. A year later, a second and similar set was in operation, and by 1938 two more sets of the same capacity had been added, bringing the total installed capacity to 200,000 kW. A further 50,000 kW. was in operation by the end of 1942. At present, a further set of the same capacity is being installed, and a seventh, of at least the same capacity as each of the others, is planned. Clarence dock is a coal-fired station, having seventeen boilers divided between three boiler houses. In the latest, No. 3, the boilers are fired by pulverized fuel. Although the station is built in a dock, it is not possible to discharge sea-borne coal directly on the site. It is discharged from ships at Bramley Moore Dock, which lies approximately half-a-mile north of the station. Half the coal supplies are sea-borne. All fuel, whether sea-borne or rail-borne, actually arrives at the coal stockyard by rail, where it is handled by direct gravity discharge into silos delivering on to belt conveyors or by crane into the partly flooded stockyard, and thence as required to the conveyors. There are three level-luffing cranes which adequately cope with the routine handling. Pulverizing is carried out in "Babcock and Wilcox, E56" type horizontal grinding mills. Coal consumption during the winter months is 2,700 tons per day. Stoker boilers consume 10 tons of coal per hour and pulverized-fuel boilers consume 16 tons per hour on full load. The station is now operated by the Merseyside and North Wales Division of the British Electricity Authority, the divisional controller being Mr. A. R. Cooper.


Cunard White Star

The story of the development of the North Atlantic "Ferry" during the steamship era is at the same time the story of the Cunard White Star undertaking, for Samuel Cunard was one of the first to grasp the possibilities of steam on the North Atlantic. Cunard, who came from Halifax, Nova Scotia, formulated a plan in 1830 to substitute a regular steamship mail service in place of the more or less obsolete sailing ships which were both irregular and uncertain. Eight years later, after the Great Western had crossed the Atlantic from Bristol to New York in 134 days, the Government invited bids for a speedier and more regular carrier. Cunard immediately sailed for England, and together with Robert Napier, a Clyde shipbuilder, and one of the foremost marine engineers of the day, George Burns of Glasgow, and David McIver of Liverpool, two of the ablest men in the shipping trade, perfected plans which were accepted by the Admiralty. The contract called for a fortnightly service between Liverpool, Halifax, and Boston, with four ships. The first vessel built for the Cunard Line was the Britannia, which sailed out of Liverpool on 4th July 1840. She was a vessel 207 feet long, 34-foot beam, carrying 115 passengers, and 225 tons of cargo.

In the first forty years of the company's existence, noteworthy links in the chain of development were the Persia (1856), the first iron Cunarder; the Scotia (1862), 3,871 tons, the largest steamer in the world at that time; the Servia (1881), 7,392 tons, the first steel Atlantic Cunarder-larger and faster than any other ship then in commission; and the Aurania (1883), the first liner fitted with suites of rooms. Other epoch-making ships followed in rapid succession, among them the Lusitania and the famous first Mauretania of 1907. The next milestone was the Aquitania (45,650 tons). Scarcely had she taken her place in the company's service in 1914 when war was declared.

After the Armistice the company embarked upon an extensive building programme to replace war losses - thirteen vessels amounting to 214,000 tons were ordered - while opportunity was taken to convert all existing ships from coal to oil fuel burning. In May 1934, the Cunard Company merged with the White Star Line, so linking two great companies. The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, or the White Star Line, as it was best known on the Atlantic, was inaugurated by T. H. Ismay in 1869. Throughout its seventy-five years the company contributed much to the progressive design of the North Atlantic liner. Their first ship, the Oceanic of 1871 was the first steamship on the Atlantic with passenger accommodation amidships. One of the largest motor ships in the world was built for the White Star Line in 1930. The Britannic, as she was named, and her sister ship Georgic were the last additions to the White Star fleet at the time of the merger with the Cunard Line in 1934. Meantime the great liner "534" was being constructed for the Cunard Line at John Brown's Yard at Clydebank. Work was begun in December 1930, but construction was suspended for twenty-eight months. Her launching and christening by H.M. Queen Mary came a few months after the merger, on 26th September 1934, when the ship was named Queen Mary. In May 1936, she started on her maiden voyage to New York, an event of world-wide interest. In the summer of 1939 the new Mauretania entered the service, and in September 1939, with the outbreak of war, the fleet was quickly requisitioned for war service. Over 4,400,000 troops were carried, and a total distance of 5,360,000 miles was steamed from September 1939 until the end of 1945.

In addition to these achievements, the company managed, on behalf of the Ministry of War Transport, thirty-nine other ships, of a gross tonnage totalling 347,456 and handled over 11,000,000 tons of cargo. Five new liners have been completed in the company's post-war building programme and a sixth, a cargo liner, is now under construction. Of the five ships now in service, the 34,000-ton Caronia, largest liner built in the world since the war ended, launched by H.R.H. Princess Elizabeth, made her maiden voyage on 4th January 1949. The Caronia, specially designed for cruising as well as for service on the North Atlantic, marks a new milestone in the Cunard history and in that of passenger liners. The Media and Parthia, each of 13,350 tons gross, with accommodation for 250 passengers and capacity for 7,000 tons of cargo incorporate striking modern features: a single mast and well raked stem characterize these sister ships, with their extensive sports decks and air-conditioned public rooms. The other two vessels are cargo liners, named Asia and Arabia, each with capacity for over 9,000 tons of cargo. They have extensive refrigerated space and embody the most modern developments in cargo ship design. Of the remainder of the fleet, the two famous "Queen" liners have resumed normal service on the North Atlantic, and so also has the Mauretania. The Aquitania and Ascania have reopened the company's Canadian passenger service, in which they are to be joined by the Franconia following her reconditioning on the Clyde. The Scythia and Samaria are also engaged on Canadian service and are doing good work carrying displaced persons from the Continent. The Britannic is now back on the Liverpool—Cobh—New York service, after her complete reconditioning after war service. The Britannic. The Britannic is unique in appearance among North Atlantic liners: two squat funnels in association with two lofty well-raked masts contribute to her distinctive profile with its shapely cruiser stern and straight stem. She was built by Harland and Wolff, Belfast, in 1930, to carry 1,550 passengers, but during the war, acting as a troopship, she carried double that number, and eventually she was carrying close on 5,000 troops each voyage. By the end of the war she had carried more than 180,000 service personnel and steamed 367,000 miles. During her reconditioning after war service, many improvements and alterations were made, notably, the installation of an improved system of ventilation, the sprinkler system throughout every deck, and the most modern smoke detector apparatus in the cargo spaces, whilst passenger and crew accommodation was redesigned and rebuilt. Accommodation for first and tourist class passengers is spread over six decks, and practically the whole of the covered promenade deck, nearly 400 feet in length, is given over to public rooms, which include a cocktail lounge, long gallery, main lounge adaptable as a cinema, library, smoking room, and gymnasium. High in the ship on the main deck is the tourist smoking room, whilst on A deck there are two lounges for tourist passengers. Staterooms in both classes set a high standard, ranging from first-class suite rooms to well-fitted tourist rooms, many of them with private showers. Shops and beauty parlours in both classes, a large indoor swimming pool served by a special lift, children's playrooms, and extensive deck spaces for exercise and relaxation, are but some of the Britannic's features. With an overall length of 712 feet and a gross tonnage of 27,666, she has nine decks and four cargo holds forward and four aft of the machinery spaces. A number of 'tween deck spaces are insulated, amounting in all to 85,000 cubic feet. The refrigerating plant is located in the forward end of the auxiliary engine room and consists of two large horizontal twin compressor carbon-dioxide machines each directly coupled to a variable speed electric motor of 75 b.h.p. The main propelling machinery consists of two Harland Burmeister and Wain double-acting, four-stroke, ten-cylinder Diesel engines each capable of developing 10,000 b.h.p. at 100 r.p.m. The cylinders have a diameter of 33 inches and a piston stroke of 63 inches. Crankshafts are each made in two symmetrical five-throw sections bolted together. Separate Diesel engines drive the three-stage air injection compressors. Vapour extractors on Harland and Wolff system are fitted to both main engines as well as to the auxiliaries. Each main engine has its own multi-tubular fresh water cooler with 4,000 square feet of cooling surface. Although the forced-lubrication and piston cooling services of both the main engines are independent, suitable cross connexions are provided. So far as the main engine oil cooling arrangements are concerned each engine has two multi-tubular oil coolers, each with 1,400 square feet of cooling surface. The outfit of pumps includes two motor driven cylindrical fresh water cooling pumps each with a capacity of 350 tons per hour, four sea-water cooling pumps of 450 tons capacity per hour, four cylindrical main forced-lubrication pumps and two main bilge pumps of Drysdale type. The four main engine air injection compressors are each driven by separate Diesel engines developing 850 b.h.p. In addition to supplying injection air to the main engines, compressed air is also supplied for starting and manoeuvring purposes, the air being stored in four large receivers. These engines have fresh water cooling of jackets and covers, and oil cooled pistons. Electric power is utilized throughout the ship on an elaborate scale, current being supplied by four Diesel-driven generators. Each generator has a capacity of 500 kW. at 160 r.p.m., the Diesel engines all having six cylinders 500 mm. in diameter by 750 mm. stroke. The engines are four-stroke, air-injection, trunk piston type. Steam for hotel services is supplied by an auxiliary boiler installation consisting of two single-ended Scotch boilers, designed for a working pressure of 150 lb. per sq. in., burning oil under natural draught.


Distillers Co (Biochemicals)

The identification and naming of penicillin by Fleming in 1929 and its subsequent development by Florey and his co-workers are landmarks in the medical history of our times. Perhaps no less interesting, particularly to those associated with large-scale manufacturing processes, is the development of an entirely new industry, the manufacture of antibiotics, a class of therapeutic substances of which penicillin is an important member. The works and laboratories of The Distillers Company (Biochemicals), Ltd., at Speke, known locally as "the penicillin factory", contain plant and apparatus specially designed to encourage and control the growth of the common mould penicillium which, in the course of its natural processes, forms penicillin. The staff required to deal with this process includes engineers, mechanical and electrical; chemists; bacteriologists; physiologists; mycologists; botanists; pharmacists; in addition to the tradesmen and technicians engaged in maintenance) servicing, and development work.

The factory now covers an area of seventeen acres and comprises twenty-two major blocks of buildings. A modern boiler house contains five boilers capable of steaming at 50,000 lb. per hour and supplying superheated steam. at 150 lb. per sq. in. pressure. Steam is provided for the sterilization of the fermentation plant, including the preparation of many thousands of gallons of sterile broth per week, for the operation of distillation and recovery units in the purification of penicillin; and for general factory heating, hot water supplies, and canteen services. The fermentation block contains all the large-scale fermentation vessels and broth sterilization plant; the technical offices; and an extensive group of laboratories giving facilities not only for plant control, but also for development and research. Eight bacteriological laboratories are assigned to the preparation of cultures, the maintenance of plant sterility, and the assay of penicillin at all stages of manufacture. Seven analytical laboratories control the use of raw materials and reagents. A technical library and reference room is also included in this section.

The recovery block contains the whole of the extraction plant including:— (a) rotary filters for the filtration of fermented broth, and mycelium disposal plant; (b) the continuous broth extraction unit where penicillin is extracted from the broth by organic solvents in stainless steel equipment; (c) distillation units, both batch and continuous, suitable for the recovery and purification of a wide range of solvents; (d) evaporation and concentration plant, including centrifuges and extractors, together with a large variety of stainless steel and glass-lined reaction vessels.

Another block includes filling and drying equipment, including the sterile area; a cold store capable of hoding several hundred thousand million units of penicillin; bottle-washing department; and cloakrooms for employees. A large central compressor households four air compressors capable of delivering over half-a-million cubic feet of free air per hour to the fermentation process; two large refrigeration plants, each comprising several individual units, to provide refrigeration for chilled water services throughout the factory, and for the unique high vacuum units installed in the compressor house. All these machines are fully equipped with automatic controls.

The animal house is completely isolated from the rest of the buildings, and the animals are protected as though in an isolation hospital. This department contains breeding rooms and testing rooms. Sterilized air at controlled temperature and humidity is circulated throughout the building. The selection of test strains of animals is of major importance and all the animals are descendants of twenty-two rabbits and one hundred and twenty mice which were flown from Montreal. These animals are used to test the purity of every batch of penicillin before it is passed for human administration. The drug is given to the animals in exactly the same way as to human beings; if they show any evidence of toxic effect or rise in temperature the whole batch of penicillin is rejected.

A well-equipped physiological laboratory is attached to the animal house and all the tests are carried out by qualified physiologists approved by the Medical Research Council and licensed by the Home Office. In addition to the process buildings described above, the factory is equipped with a large engineering workshop where major repairs may be carried out and plant, designed by the company's development staff, fabricated.

A modern welfare building and gatehouse is situated at the east entrance, with first-aid and rest rooms. In recent months the company has acquired additional commodious premises adjoining the original factory. These premises already house the packing and despatch departments and will eventually be fully employed in coping with the company's expanding activities. These extensions also include a large canteen in which many of the company's staff social functions are held. The deep fermentation process for the manufacture of penicillin at Speke is divided into several stages: submerged fermentation, removal of mycelium and extraction of penicillin from the broth, solvent purification and formation of the salts of penicillin, freezing and high vacuum drying, crystallization, filling, packing, testing, and storage. Fermentation is carried out in a battery of large mild-steel fermenters. Broth for fermentation is prepared from corn steep liquor and added substances, diluted to the correct strength with water and carefully adjusted to optimum acidity.

Corn steep liquor is a by-product of the starch industry, it is rich in soluble organic nutrients and is a powerful stimulant to the growth of the mould. The prepared broth is sterilized by superheated steam under high pressure and, after cooling in a totally enclosed cooler, is charged to the fermenters. The fermenters and all connecting pipes are previously sterilized by steam. Many forms of bacterial infection can completely destroy the power of the mould to produce penicillin or can destroy the penicillin in the liquid broth after it has been formed there by the mould. Scrupulous care must, therefore, be taken to ensure that only a pure culture of the mould comes into contact with the broth up to the time when the penicillin is extracted. The mould in present use is a form of the original mould treated with X-rays to produce a mutant giving a high yield of penicillin. The culture is first grown in a test tube under the most carefully controlled bacteriological conditions, and is allowed to multiply in larger and larger glass containers in special incubators, until it is finally transferred from the laboratory to seed tanks where the plant culture is grown. When the sterilized broth is transferred to the fermenter, the seed culture is also transferred and fermentation commences. Moulds of this type usually grow on the surface of damp decaying organic matter, indicating their need for the presence of air to maintain their metabolism, and, in order to carry out successful fermentation in a deep fermenter filled with thousands of gallons of broth, immense quantities of air must be passed through the liquid. The sterilization of air in such quantities is a major problem, and most elaborate equipment is installed to scrub the air and treat it with suitable reagents before use. The fermentation cycle lasts several days, and during this time the temperature of the broth must be carefully controlled by circulating cooling water in the fermenter jacket. Carbon dioxide is formed as a by-product during fermentation, and must be continuously exhausted from the system to maintain the proper conditions in the vessel. Precise technical control is needed to follow the course of fermentation hour by hour, and to determine when the maximum concentration of penicillin has been reached. At the end of fermentation, the fermenter contains liquid broth, in which is floating a large quantity of spongy mycelium, and dissolved in this large quantity of broth is a comparatively small amount of penicillin. The broth is then pumped to a novel type of rotary filter from which the mycelium is removed as a continuous felt. The rough-filtered broth is pre-treated with a filter aid at controlled conditions of temperature and acidity, after which it is filtered through a filter press to give a clear broth. It is then fed continuously to a high-speed mixing tank where organic solvent and more acid are added.

From this tank the mixed liquids are run to a decanter where the spent broth separates and is discharged. The solution of penicillin in organic solvent is then clarified. The next stage is the conversion of the penicillin to a crude salt by agitation with aqueous alkali. After separation the aqueous salt solution is passed forward for further treatment while the organic solvent is sent to recovery stills for distillation and purification. The crude salt solution passes forward through a series of solvent-solvent extractions, the first of which is performed in a high-speed centrifugal separator. The fraction containing the penicillin is next passed through a series of alkali extractors where the solution of the salt of penicillin is obtained. This solution is subjected to further purification treatment and concentration until the required potency is produced.

It is then ready for passage through a "Seitz" type biological plate-and-frame filter of stainless steel construction which removes any bacteria and pyrogens (fever producing substances) that may be present in the solution. The final filtration is carried out in a sterile area, and the filtrate is received in a sterilized stainless steel container known as the "final bulk container".

At this stage, the solution is ready to be dehydrated before being filled, in powder or crystalline form, into the final sales container. All operations from this point onwards, until the penicillin powder is sealed in vials, are carried out in a sterile area. This sterile area consists of a group of rooms which are totally enclosed, the only entrance being through a surgical dressing room. No person is allowed to enter the sterile area without taking all the precautions normally practised before entering a hospital operating theatre, including washing with antiseptic soap and the donning of sterilized shoes, clothing, hoods, and surgical gloves. The whole of the ceilings and walls are glass-lined, and the floors are finished in impervious terrazzo. The area is fed with sterilized air, exactly controlled with regard to temperature and humidity, and a slight positive pressure is maintained in order that no contaminated air can enter through the lock which admits the operators.

In every room numerous high-powered, ultra-violet lights are arranged in the ceilings so that all the surfaces of rooms and equipment are continuously subjected to ultra-violet sterilization. In solution penicillin is so unstable to heat that dehydration must be accomplished in the freezing state. The solution of penicillin is, therefore, frozen and the ice evaporated directly without going through the liquid phase. This is accomplished by the use of high vacuum diffusion pumps. The drying equipment consists of two batteries of vacuum chambers. After the trays of frozen penicillin solution are placed in the chambers, the system is evacuated down to about three hundred microns within five minutes by means of single-stage mechanical pumps of the oil-sealed rotary type. These "roughing" mechanical vacuum pumps are tied in by a common manifold to all the dryers. After this rough evacuation, the drying chambers are connected to the high-vacuum manifold serving the diffusion pumps. These, designed to reduce the pressure further until dehydration is accomplished, exert a pull of about 10 tons on the dryer doors. Each dryer is equipped with a "McLeod" gauge to measure the extremely low vacua which are obtained. Vapours leaving the high-vacuum manifold go through a pair of cold traps or low-temperature condensers in parallel. These are jacketed steel cylindrical chambers set at an angle, provided with revolving scrapers and refrigerated with ammonia to about —80 to —90 deg. F. Ice that collects on the walls is scraped off and falls into an ice receiver at the same temperature. These cold condensers relieve the strain on the diffusion pumps. Eleven sets of diffusion pumps take care of the two batteries of dryers. The diffusion pumps consist of 4-inch diameter units of a multi-jet design and built of welded steel. Chlorinated hydrocarbons, having a lower vapour pressure than mercury, are used as the pumping fluid, and are condensed on the walls of the pumps and re-used. These diffusion pumps discharge to oil-sealed, rotary high-vacuum pumps which compress the exhausted gas to atmospheric pressure and discharge it, thus enabling the diffusion pumps to take hold. An important feature of the backing-up pumps is the oil purification system that continuously recirculates all sealing oil to remove condensed water and other contamination. Otherwise, these would flash back into the system and raise the fore-pressure to a point where the diffusion pumps could not operate. The penicillin salt is allowed to remain in the vacuum chambers until the moisture has been reduced to the specified content. This is readily accomplished in a few hours, after which the trays of dehydrated penicillin are removed. The penicillin is then passed through ball mills which reduce it to a fine powder. This is then placed in automatic filling machines which fill it in accurately, measured amounts into the final sales container. Sterilized vacuum-dried rubber stoppers are then inserted as quickly as possible in another room of the sterile area. An aluminium cover is machine-seamed over the rubber stopper, and the bottles are then ready for normal handling. The process described produces amorphous penicillin. This material is very hygroscopic and loses its activity on heating to even moderate temperatures. The crystalline form of penicillin has the advantage of being far less hygroscopic and it will withstand heating to boiling point for considerable periods.

At Speke, amorphous penicillin is converted to the crystalline form by precipitation from an organic solvent. Amorphous penicillin is dissolved in the solvent and its solubility reduced by other solvent additions. At a critical point almost colourless crystals of penicillin form in the liquor and are filtered off, washed, and dried. All this work is done in the sterile area under stringent aseptic conditions. The bulk material, either amorphous or crystalline, is sampled and has to undergo stringent laboratory tests for purity, sterility, absence of toxic material, and any other tests before it is filled into its final containers. Most of the material is dispensed into small glass vials by a battery of filling machines. The amounts delivered into these vials range from about 60 milligrammes for the smaller sizes of crystalline penicillin to 600 milligrammes for a 1,000,000-unit dose of amorphous penicillin. For the final testing, sample bottles are withdrawn from every tray, and the remaining bottles are placed in metal strong boxes which are sealed and placed in cold store. The first and most important test is the determination of the quantity of penicillin in each bottle. A further important test is the determination of sterility to ensure that no contaminating bacteria or other microorganisms are present in the material. In addition, two very significant physiological tests must be carried out. To ensure that the purification as carried out is satisfactory, known quantities of the penicillin are injected into rabbits and mice. In the case of the rabbits, a given dose is injected into the marginal vein of the ear, and the rabbit's temperature is carefully recorded over a period of several hours. A rise in temperature of more than 0.6 deg. C. is sufficient to reject the material as unsuitable for human injection. A corresponding dose is injected into the tails of a specified number of mice. All the mice should remain unaffected if the penicillin is free from toxic substances. Penicillin is used exclusively by physicians, veterinarians, and dentists, in hospitals and in general practice. The avenue for the distribution of penicillin is, therefore, through the drug trade - Seven well-known British drug manufacturers, specializing in the manufacture and marketing of products for the use of the medical and allied professions, have been appointed as the distributors of the penicillin manufactured by The Distillers Company (Biochemicals), Ltd. All these firms are engaged in the home and export trade and are thus able to make penicillin available in the world's markets. By this rationalization of distribution The Distillers Company (Biochemicals), Ltd., is able to concentrate its activities on the production of penicillin. The various pharmaceutical forms (lozenges, ointments, suspensions for injection, etc.) in which penicillin is prepared for various uses in medicine are manufactured by the initial distributors using the penicillin manufactured at Speke as an ingredient.


Dunlop Rubber Co

The Speke factory of the Dunlop Rubber Company is situated nine miles southwards from the centre of Liverpool, in close proximity to the Speke Airport, and was built in 1937-38 for the manufacture of aircraft under the government pre-war scheme of shadow factories. From 1938 to 1945 Blenheim and Halifax aircraft were assembled under the direction of Rootes Securities, Ltd., who operated the factory on behalf of the Ministry of Aircraft Production. At the end of 1944, the government departments concerned decided to discontinue the production of Halifax bombers, and the Dunlop Rubber Company was invited to survey the premises with a view to taking over. This they did in relation to the existing demands for its war-time products and the probable post-war expansion of its normal trade. The premises were officially taken over on the 1st August 1945 and so the Speke aircraft factory became the first of the great government factories to be transferred to private enterprise. The site, which is one hundred and one acres in extent, with buildings covering an area of 1,400,000 sq. ft., immediately became the centre of considerable engineering activity, as the plans for the conversion to the manufacture of rubber products on a large scale required the complete conversion of the existing services, while certain services such as steam, high-pressure air, and hydraulic power, were virtually non-existent. Considerable work was also put in hand for the preparation of the installation of rubber manufacturing plant for which orders were being placed in the meantime.

The boiler house, which was erected for hot water space-heating, was converted and an additional boiler installed to give a total of 150,000 lb. of steam. per hour at 200 lb. per sq. in. pressure. Forty-four thousand feet of piping from 6 to 12 inches in diameter had to be installed to distribute the steam to process plant. Hydraulic services have been installed to give 1,500 gallons per minute at 350 lb. per sq. in., 240 gallons per minute at 1,100 lb. per sq. in., and 300 gallons at 2,240 lb. per sq. in. The low-pressure air supply has been increased from an existing 3,750 cu. ft. per min, installation to 6,350 cu. ft. per min. High-pressure air compressors have been installed to give 1,560 cu. ft. per min. at 325 ib. per sq. in.

The electric supply system had to be completely rearranged and increased in capacity from a maximum installed transformer capacity of 8,400 kVA. at 400 volts to a maximum installed capacity of 16,900 kVA., which includes 4,500 kVA. supply at 5,000 volts and 2,000 kW. D.C. at 500 volts with a 250-volt balancer system incorporated. In all, motors totalling 28,000 h.p. have been connected to the system. The water supply to the factory has been augmented to give 75,000 gal. per hr. by the sinking of a bore-well 36 inches in diameter and 400 feet deep. Circulating pumps are provided in the pump house for distributing water to all parts of the factory. For the installation of production plant which weighed over 5,000 tons, approximately 30,000 cubic yards of soil have been removed and 10,000 cubic yards of concrete used for machine foundations, etc. The main building is 1,440 feet long and 600 feet wide and is arranged for straight line production of giant tyres, passenger car tyres, and cycle tyres, with inner tubes for each type. The production of rubber footwear, and golf and tennis balls is also carried on in this building; conveyor and transmission belting is manufactured in a separate building with 80,000 sq. ft. of floor space. A further building is devoted to the manufacture of precision rubber mouldings. This factory provides an excellent example of the conversion of a war-time plant into a modern rubber producing unit employing approximately six thousand five hundred people.


Elder Dempster Lines

The history of the company goes back ninety-six years, to 1852, when Macgregor Laird formed the African Steam Ship Company, which was incorporated by Royal Charter in that year, and had offices in Mincing Lane, London. The fleet consisted of five vessels with sail and steam propulsion, and they ranged from 250 tons to 1,000 tons deadweight. All had some accommodation for first-class passengers, and their names were indicative of Laird's belief in, and hopes for, the trade, namely, Forerunner, Northern Lights, Faith, Hope, and Charity. The Liverpool agents for the company were Messrs. W. and H. Laird, the partners being William Laird and Hamilton Laird, brothers of Macgregor Laird. Among the staff were two young Scots—Alexander Elder and John Dempster. In 1875, Liverpool became the company's permanent home port. Alexander Elder had been appointed superintendent engineer of the African Steam Ship Company, resigning from the company in 1866.

At the end of 1868 some Glasgow businessmen asked John Dempster to act as Liverpool agent for a new shipping company, which they were forming to trade to West Africa. Dempster agreed and invited Alexander Elder to come into partnership with him, and they formed the firm of Elder Dempster and Company to be the Liverpool representatives of the new Glasgow shipping company called the British and African Steam Navigation Company. Three ships Bonny, Roquelle, and Congo, each of about 1,300 gross tons, were built to maintain a monthly service between Glasgow, Liverpool, London, and West Africa. The two companies flourished.

In 1875 a young man - Alfred Lewis Jones (afterwards Sir Alfred Jones) - set up a shipping and insurance broking office and chartering some small sailing vessels he began trading with West Africa and was so successful that the already established companies became alarmed and induced him to become a junior partner.

In 1880 Alexander Elder and John Dempster retired from Elder Dempster and Company, but both continued as directors of the British and African Steam Navigation Company (of which Elder and Company were now managers) until 1900.

In 1884 Jones, now the controlling partner of Elder Dempster and Company, introduced the banana to the British man in the street, and he did everything possible to popularize the fruit and make a market for it.

In 1889 the first ship's refrigerator in the West African trade was installed, and in addition Jones was mainly responsible for the development of the Canary and West Indian banana trades. Alfred Jones turned his attention to other routes and took over the Dominion Line's trade between the Bristol Channel and Canada. Another company also taken over was the Canadian Beaver Line in 1898, then in financial straits.

In 1903 Elder's Canadian fleet was sold to the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. In 1898 he formed the Elder Dempster Shipping Company, Ltd., and opened up a trade between England and the Gulf of Mexico, one of the ships put on this service being the cargo and cattle steamer Monmouth, 7,900 gross tons. By the end of the nineteenth century, Jones had acquired control of the African Steam Ship Company, which Elder Dempster and Company had managed since 1890. In 1900 he purchased the British and African Steam Navigation Company, which Elder Dempster and Company had managed almost since its inception in 1869.

In 1901 he was created Sir Alfred Jones, K.C.M.G., for his services to the Colonial Empire. At the beginning of the present century Elder Dempster and Company were in a very strong financial position and held a virtual monopoly of the West African trade and their other interests were widespread. The policy of building new and better ships was followed and in 1903 the company inaugurated their "express service" to the Gold Coast for the fortune hunters in the gold-mining boom. Sir Alfred Jones died in 1909. When he joined Elder Dempster and Company in 1879, the firm controlled twenty-one ships of which the largest was 2,000 tons; at the time of his death the company was controlling a fleet of one hundred and nine vessels.

On Sir Alfred's death, the Elder Dempster interests were bought by Sir Owen Phillips (afterwards Lord Kylsant) and Lord Pirrie, and the concern was converted into a limited liability company under the title of Elder Dempster and Company, Ltd.

When the 1914-18 war broke out, the fleets controlled by the company comprised one hundred and one steamers, but by the time hostilities ceased only fifty-eight remained afloat. Many of the company's finest and best-known ships were sunk and a great number of the firm's seamen lost their lives.

At the end of the war replacement of lost tonnage was under way, the first post-war mail ship being the twin-screw motorship Aba, 7,937 gross tons, completed in 1918, built for the Glen Line and purchased by Elder Dempster in 1920. The Aba was converted into a hospital ship during the 1939-45 war and although she suffered from enemy action, she came through and was sold in 1947. Elder Dempster and Company was one of the first firms to adopt the motorship, the Aba being the first large passenger motor liner in the world to be placed in commission. Three other twin-screw mail motorships followed in the 'twenties - Adda, Accra, and Apapa - and were lost in the 1939-45 war.

After the slump and various vicissitudes, the firm Elder Dempster Lines, Ltd., was incorporated and registered in August 1932. In 1937 the twin-screw mail motorship Abosso was put into service and was lost in the 1939-45 war with great loss of life.

In 1939, the fleet comprised forty-four steamers and motorships apart from three smaller river motorships and a host of small craft owned by subsidiary companies in West Africa. Twenty-five of these vessels were lost, including the four mail boats, during the war. During its history, Elder Dempster Lines, Ltd., has seen the abolition of the slave trade (which Macgregor Laird worked hard to achieve) and the development of West Africa from the "White Man's Grave" into an area with a large flourishing trade and industry. Since the end of the war, the company has added to the fleet six motor cargo vessels with small passenger accommodation, and two motor passenger liners—Accra and Apapa, also a number of small craft for service on the West Coast of Africa.


English Electric Co

The English Electric Company was formed in 1918 by the amalgamation of several old-established engineering firms which were pioneers in their respective spheres and whose activities were associated with the earliest days of electrical engineering. These firms included Dick Kerr and Company, Preston, with long and varied experience in electric traction work of all kinds, including the earliest tramway and railway electrifications. Before electric traction was introduced, this company specialized in the laying and equipment of tramways. It built steam locomotives for hauling street tramcars and constructed the first section of the endless-cable tramway system in Edinburgh.

In 1887 Dick Kerr and Company built the first electric conduit tramway line in the world, from Gravesend to Northfleet, and in 1902 carried out the first main line railway electrification in this country, between Liverpool and Southport on the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, including the provision of all power-house and substation plant.

Siemens Brothers Dynamo Works, Ltd., Stafford, whose manufactures covered a wide range of general electrical machinery of high repute throughout the world. Willans and Robinson, Ltd., Rugby, whose business originated in the manufacture of high-speed reciprocating steam engines for marine propulsion and later for electric power generation and developed to embrace steam turbines and Diesel engines. The Phoenix Dynamo Manufacturing Company, Bradford, which specialized in the smaller classes of rotating electrical machines, with particular reference to the requirements of the textile industry.

In 1942 the English Electric Company acquired D. Napier and Son, Ltd., famous for its automobile and aeronautical engineering, with its works at Acton and Liverpool. Since the war the English Electric Company have occupied about three-quarters of the Liverpool works as it became available from D. Napier and Son owing to the scaling down of production of aero-engines.

In 1946 the company purchased Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company, Ltd., with its subsidiaries the Marconi International Code Company, Ltd., Marconi Instruments, Ltd., and the Marconi International Marine Communication Company, Ltd. The Marconi works are at Chelmsford and St. Albans.

The manufacturing scope of all these works has been steadily developed to cover a wide field of engineering activities, and the "English Electric" group of companies, employing 35,000 people, can now provide:— Complete large-scale electricity supply systems with generators driven by steam turbines, water turbines, or Diesel engines; the equipment for complete railway electrification schemes including rectifier substations, electric and Diesel-electric locomotives and motor-coach stock; traction motors and control equipment for tramcars and trolley-buses; steam-turbine, Diesel-engine, and gas-turbine equipments for ship propulsion, Diesel-electric and turbo-electric generating sets and motors for ships' auxiliaries; aircraft, gas-turbine aero-engines, aeronautical research and testing plant, and aircraft electrical equipment; all classes of industrial electrical equipment; domestic and allied electrical appliances; radio, radar, and television equipment; high-voltage mercury-arc rectifiers for supplying radio transmitters; electronic apparatus and testing instruments for aiding marine navigation and for medical and industrial applications.

The Nelson research laboratories, at Stafford, with separate sections devoted to high power, high voltage, chemistry, insulation, general physics, vacuum physics, electrical phenomena, radiology, electronics, and metallurgy, serve the whole organization. Further laboratories on a separate site near Stafford specialize in the construction and investigation of machines used in nuclear physics research.

The Marconi company has extensive research laboratories of its own near Chelmsford and the Napier company conducts its own research on gas turbines and other engines in the laboratories at the Acton works. The Liverpool works of over 1,000,000 sq. ft. was built in 1940-41 for the production of the Napier "Sabre" engine which had been developed at the Acton works. At the end of the war, when aero-engine production was scaled down, the English Electric Company expanded its activities on standardized high-production lines of manufacture to occupy about three-quarters of the total area which became available from D. Napier and Son, whilst the Napier company continued to operate the remainder. This visit will have particular interest when it is borne in mind that none of the work now being done at the Liverpool works by either D. Napier and Son or the English Electric Company was carried out in Liverpool before or during the war and that over 6,000 people now are employed at these works.

Napier Works, Liverpool. During the course of the visit to the works the Napier products that will be seen will include the following:— (a) A sectioned "Sabre" engine. The "Sabre" is a twenty-four-cylinder, sleeve-valve, liquid-cooled aero-engine, first produced in 1937. The engine was manufactured in large quantities during the 1939-45 war and took an important and distinguished part in the fighter squadrons of the Royal Air Force, particularly in the defence of London against the V.1 flying bomb. The "Sabre VA" continues to give excellent service in the Royal Air Force. The "Sabre VII" is the latest of the series and possesses performance features hitherto unsurpassed by any piston engine. The total cylinder capacity of 2,238 cu. in. (36 litres) gives a maximum of 3,055 b.h.p.; the engine weight is 2,540 lb. Thus the figures, 0.83 lb. per b.h.p. weight/power ratio, and 84 b.h.p. per litre, are factors in the performance of one of the most advanced piston engines in the world. The maximum power of the engine in combat conditions is obtained at a boost of 174 lb. per sq. in. at 3,850 r.p.m. Water methanol injection is employed for this high duty. The two-speed supercharger gives maximum power altitudes of 3,250 feet and 13,000 feet, and at 30,000 feet the output is 1,400 b.h.p. (b) A sectioned Napier gas-turbine "Naiad" aero-engine. The "Naiad" was the first gas-turbine aero-engine to be designed by the Napier company. The b.h.p. of the engine is 1,500 and, with a jet thrust of 240 lb., gives the e.b.h.p. of 1,590. The frontal area of 4.27 sq. ft. is notably small, and a distinctive feature of the design layout is the use of the ducted propeller spinner. This arrangement gives the straight-through airflow through the engine and reduces the interference of the propeller blades to a minimum. Important features of the design are the twelve-stage axial compressor, the two-stage turbine, and the propeller reduction gear layout. Other particulars of the engine are: maximum diameter, 28 inches; length, 8 ft. 6 in.; weight, 1,095 lb.; and r.p.m., 18,250. (c) Exhaust turbo-supercharger for Diesel engines. The Napier turbo-blower has been introduced in response to a growing demand from Diesel engine manufacturers and users for a greater power from a given engine size. The blower is a turbine-driven, centrifugal air-compressor designed for pressure-charging traction, marine, and stationary Diesel engines. By correct matching to the Diesel engine, a power increase of 50 per cent of the naturally aspirated output, accompanied by an improvement in specific fuel consumption of 3 to 5 per cent, can readily be obtained with a boost pressure of 5 lb. per sq. in., where engine design provides for the higher mean effective pressure resulting from a higher boost pressure. With the addition of an air cooler a power increase of 100 per cent or more can be obtained. For this condition, the existing blower is capable of operation at pressure ratios up to 2 (15 lb. per sq. in.).

English Electric Works, Liverpool. The English Electric Works at Liverpool has been laid out as a group of five self-contained units, consisting of the switchgear, transformer, domestic, small motor, and fuse gear works. At the switchgear works, 400 and 3,300 volt air-break type switchgear for power station auxiliary and industrial use, 11 kV. vertical isolation type switchgear, mining type explosion proof oil immersed switchgear, 3,300 volts, will be seen. Amongst the important switchgear contracts in hand are those for the power stations at Clarence Dock, West Ham, Age Croft, St. Helens, Ipswich, Delhi, Pretoria, and Cape Town; for a new fertilizer factory for the Indian Government; and for use in the production of oils, etc., from ground nuts. Some of the features which were incorporated in the company's switchgear for use on mine-sweepers, and are therefore of proved reliability, are embodied in the post-war equipment. Provision has been made at Liverpool for testing switchgear up to 100,000 volts on pressure test and up to 20,000 amps for overload calibration test, but type testing for short-circuit capacity is carried out at the Nelson Research Laboratories, Stafford.

The transformer works manufacture transformers up to 250 kVA., which are used generally for outdoor distribution purposes all over the world. In providing modern facilities for testing, particular care has been taken with precautions for safety and also for speed of handling. Some of the important contracts in hand cover small transformers for X-ray equipment, distribution transformers for the British Electricity Authority in all areas, and for Australia, South Africa, India, and Iraq. The welding and fabrication of the tanks and details for transformers and for switchgear are carried out in the adjoining fabrication works. The domestic works' present products include refrigerators, cookers, and washing machines. The refrigerator unit fitted to all "English Electric" refrigerators is of the hermetically sealed type, there being no screwed fittings and bolted flanges. All joints are made by seam and arc welding and brazing or, in the case of the motor terminals, by specially designed synthetic rubber glands. The refrigerant used is "Freon-12", and a supply of this and of special refrigerator oil are sealed within the unit. The compressor is of the reciprocating type, directly coupled to a * h.p. split-phase, induction motor and spring suspended. The plant for the manufacture of refrigerators is highly specialized; the processes of pressing and welding the cabinet and the food compartment; pickling, degreasing, bonderizing, and enamelling on continuous conveyors; and dehydrating and testing the sealed unit are of particular interest. The small motor works are laid out for the production of fractional horse-power motors of a standard type. The motors embody die-cast stators, rotors, and end plates, which are all made in the Napier die-casting works. The fuse gear works are a self-contained works entirely devoted to the manufacture of high rupturing capacity cartridge fuses and associated equipment. The English Electric Company were pioneers in the development of high rupturing capacity fuses which are today used on all types of electrical circuits, in power stations, for collieries, and down to the domestic sphere.

The works were transferred from Stafford during the early months of 1947 and have been in full production for nearly two years. Examples of complete equipment from the wide range manufactured will be seen during the tour of the works. English Electric Works, Preston.

In 1938 the Preston works were making rolling stock for electric railways and tramways, vehicles for road passenger transport, and domestic electrical appliances. On the threat of war, they were organized for the production of aircraft, and in the same year the first contract was received from the Air Ministry for the manufacture of "Hampden" bombers. Later contracts were placed for making "Halifax" four-engined bombers and "Vampire" jet-propelled fighters. During the war over 3,000 bombers, mostly "Halifaxes", were built at Preston. In order to provide this output of aircraft, the works area was greatly increased, resulting in a total of nearly 2,000,000 sq. ft., including the final assembly and flight sheds at Samlesbury. The manufacture of essential domestic appliances, such as electric cooking equipment for canteens, also continued during the war.

At the end of the war, Preston works resumed its traction and domestic appliance activities, while continuing to make aircraft on a peace-time basis. The products now include electric and Diesel-electric locomotives for all services; electric and Diesel-electric motor-coach stock; Diesel-electric railcars; traction motors and control equipment for railways, tramways, and trolley-buses; Diesel engines for traction, marine, and industrial use; aircraft; and domestic electrical appliances. The manufacture within the one works of the rolling stock, electrical traction equipment, and Diesel engines, facilitates the co-ordination in design and construction of all the components concerned in the production of complete units for electric and Diesel-electric traction.


Howard Ford and Co

The hosiery industry has long been established in the British Isles, its centres being the Midlands and Scotland. By 1919, the fine-gauge section, devoted to women's stockings, was meeting strong competition from circular knit imports from America and fully-fashioned from the Continent. Howard Ford and Company, Ltd., was founded by the late Mr. Howard Ford in 1922 as hosiery factors, to buy from home and overseas suppliers and distribute direct to retailers from warehouses in Liverpool and London. By 1924 "Bear Brand" was established as a leading make. The Churchill silk duties of 1925 led to the building of the first factory in Woolton in 1926, devoted to the manufacture of "Bear Brand" circular knit stockings. In 1929 the space was doubled and a large plant of 42-gauge fully-fashioned machines was installed. In July 1931 the present main building, consisting of four long floors 400 feet by 60 feet, was built to house an entirely new plant of 45-gauge machines. By this time "Bear Brand" was established as the largest production unit for fine-gauge hose in Britain. The combined output of circular and fully-fashioned hose was approximately 20,000 dozens per week made up of pure silk and rayon styles. The ever-increasing popularity of the fashioned stocking called for still further equipment, and in 1935 the present No. 3 knitting room was added, together with four finishing floors. At this time also, Howard Ford and Company, Ltd., introduced the first 54-gauge stockings.

Before all the new machinery required could be installed war broke out, and stocking production, which was regarded as a luxury, was very severely restricted, only a small portion of the plant remaining in production and only rayon being available.

From 1939 to 1945, all available space was turned over to war production and large quantities of R.A.F. dinghies, Mae West life jackets, and various items of clothing were manufactured. In addition, some of the larger rooms were used for the manufacture and testing of anti-aircraft balloons. At the conclusion of hostilities, the original 42-gauge fully-fashioned plant was replaced by new 51-gauge machines, and the first 54-gauge machines were replaced by new models. To house the new 51-gauge machines, additional width had to be added to what will be No. 4 knitting room. The first five of the English built "Bentley Cotton" 51-gauge machines are already installed and working up to production, and first deliveries of "Reading" machines have been made and these are now being erected. In addition, delivery is expected very shortly of "Leiberknecht" machines. When the 51-gauge fully-fashioned plant is completed, it will be the finest post-war textile unit in the United Kingdom. The post-war machines are considerably more efficient and advanced than the pre-war type of machine as considerable developments have taken place in America; these machines are specially designed to produce nylon, particularly of fine deniers. The new 54-gauge "Wildman Machines" are already in use. This new equipment programme is designed to take care of an ever-growing export trade. The flow of production, methods of finishing, and ancillary processes have been replatmed. Part of the finishing operations are done in the firm's two additional factories at Corwen, North Wales, and the Head Office Building, School Lane, Liverpool.

The firm was the first in the fine-gauge trade to take export seriously, and by June 1946 they had commenced shipping pure silk hose, and they were the first to send British nylons overseas. There is a demand for these nylons in all parts of the world, and the production for many months ahead is booked up. The prospects for 54-gauge and 51-gauge hose are good and will be satisfied as soon as the new equipment is in steady production. The Woolton plant, although one of the largest and newest mills in the country, is, so far as possible, always kept up to date. Electric power for the mill is available either from the main supply or Diesel plant. Steam for the dye house and processing is supplied by Lancashire boilers arranged for fuel-oil or coal, according to the fuel supply position.


Forsters Glass Co

The firm was founded as a private business in the year 1900 by the late Alderman John Forster, O.B.E., J.P., incorporated as a private limited company in 1905, and converted into a public company under its present style in 1919, under the joint managing directorship of Mr. Walter Forster and the late Mr. W. A. Forster. The undertaking has now grown into one of the largest glass bottle manufacturing concerns in the kingdom. During the forty-nine years of the firm's existence, the technique of bottle manufacture has been revolutionized, the old hand-blown or semi-automatic methods of production having been replaced by fully automatic machine production.

In 1900 one small glass tank furnace sufficed for the firm's needs, but today many large tank furnaces are available, each capable of supplying some 60 tons of glass per day, and the manufacturing capacity of the works runs to hundreds of millions of bottles and jars per annum. The production is continuous for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, with output only ceasing for three days at Christmas. To enable this, shift employees work a five-day week, on the "four shift" system. The glass tank furnaces are of the "cross flame" regenerative type, and are fired by producer gas. Each furnace is provided with subsidiary oil firing which can be put into operation during periods when the producer gas flues are being cleaned, thus catering for continuous working at the machines.

Producer gas for the furnaces is supplied from a bank of "Morgan" producers assisted by a number of "Chapman" producers. Steam for the gas producers is supplied by an installation of five boilers of the Lancashire type.

Two types of glass are melted in the tank furnaces, namely, "amber" and "colourless". The raw materials for these (mainly, sand, limestone, and soda ash) are mixed in large "Smith" type mixers, and then transported to the various furnaces by hoppers which are conveyed by an electrically operated overhead runway equipped with four electric travelling cranes. Many tons of "batch" has to be weighed, mixed, and transported each day. The "batch" is fed into the furnaces by automatic filling device of various types or by hand shovelling. A glass tank furnace is in two parts: the larger or "melting end" where the batch mixture is converted into molten glass and a smaller or "refining" end where the molten glass is cooled somewhat and conditioned. The molten glass passes from the refining end, down channels from 6 feet to 14 feet in length, known as "feeders", and is extruded and supplied to the automatic machines to be transformed into bottles or jars. The "feeders" are fired by town gas. The bottle machines are of various types, mainly two-table "O'Neill" machines carrying six or eight moulds, and one-table "Mitchell" machines also carrying six or eight moulds. Each machine is capable of producing from 30,000 to 60,000 bottles or jars per day according to the size of the ware being produced. The hot bottles after production are cooled down slowly and evenly to eradicate strain in specially constructed "lehrs" fired by town gas and provided with slow moving wire mesh conveyor belts. The bottles emerge from the lehrs cold and free from strain and are then sorted, subjected to various tests and packed for delivery. Bottle machines are operated either by electric motor or compressed air, and all blowing is performed by compressed air. A department complete with air compressors of the most modern type copes with this demand. Large engineering shops provide for the production of the multifarious types and sizes of moulds required, and for the repair and reconditioning of bottle machines, whilst all mould castings are made in a small foundry on the premises.



This jam preserving business was started by Wm. P. Hartley in Colne. He moved to Bootle in 1874, and in 1886 the factory at Aintree was built. The business was extended to London in 1900 and during the last war a factory was opened in Hereford. Side by side with the construction of the Aintree works, Sir William Hartley erected a model village for his work people; this was, in many respects, the beginning of the garden village movement which was later developed at Port Sunlight and Bournville. Sir William also was one of the pioneers of profit sharing, and in 1892 he commenced the distribution of an annual bonus to the work people, the practice being continued up to the present day. The firm became a public limited company in 1936, and the high quality of the product and the welfare of the employees have been maintained in the tradition established by the founder. The company's constant aim has been to maintain the confidence of the public by manufacturing the best possible article and selling it at a fair price. The original formulae of the founder still represent jam at its best, but the years have seen progressive improvements in processing methods, machinery, and management technique. The company believes strongly that a first-class quality product is best produced by constant attention to the modernization of plant, by continual efforts to improve organization and technique -and by a happy, keen, and contented staff.

In addition to jams and marmalade, fruit jellies, bottled fruit, candied peel, and canned vegetables are also produced, canned peas being a speciality. The pea canning section was opened by Lord Derby in June 1933. The majority of the peas used are grown under contract in the Ormskirk and outlying districts of Lancashire. The growers make successive sowings so that a regular supply of ripe peas is available throughout the season. The peas are canned within two hours of harvesting. The continuous process commences with the pod, and the peas emerge canned and cooked without having been touched by hand. During the season two hundred and fifty thousand cans a day are handled. The company at present employs approximately two thousand people at its factories, and this is increased to about three thousand during the fruit seasons.


Alfred Holt and Co

The founder of the company was an engineer, trained at the Edge Hill Works of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. In 1852 Alfred Holt purchased the Dumbarton Youth with the intention of proving that a cargo-carrying steamship was a practicable proposition. This ship was a three masted sailing ship, fitted with two direct-acting engines with a total of 44 h.p. On taking her over, a part of the bargain was found to be a quantity of blue paint, which was applied with great effect to the lofty smoke-stack amidships. Such was the accidental beginning of the name "Blue Funnel". The unusual names of later ships, taken from Greek mythology, are difficult to pronounce, and this has no doubt led to the Blue Funnel ships being less well-known individually.

In 1854 Mr. Holt started building the first of a number of ships, but in 1864 all but one were sold to the West Indian and Pacific Steamship Company. In 1865 Alfred Holt, and his brother formed the Ocean Steam Ship Company for the China trade. Alfred Holt used the experience he had gained with the earlier ships to design a ship which he considered would carry sufficient coal to China and back via Mauritius, and yet have space remaining for a profitable cargo. His confidence was fully justified, and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 made possible a further improvement in the cargo space available. The fleet continued to expand in response to the growing Far Eastern trade and strong connexions were built up in China, Malaya, Java and Australia.

In 1902 a limited company was formed but no other change was made in its constitution or methods of management. In 1902 control was acquired of the China Mutual Steam Navigation Company, which brought the combined fleet to fifty-five ships with a gross tonnage of 259,002.

In 1915 the Indra Line was purchased, thereby obtaining an entry into the New York— Far Eastern trade, and in 1917 four ships were added as a result of the purchase of the Knight Line.

In 1935 the Glen Line was acquired but this line has retained its individual characteristics including the red funnels. At the outbreak of the 1939-45 war, the combined fleets consisted of fifty-five steamships and thirty-three motor-ships with a gross registered tonnage of 709,408. Of these, forty-four vessels were lost by enemy action and two vessels were sold to the government.

Since the war, replacements have been made by the purchase of three standard-type ships from the government, six "Victory" ships from the U.S. Government, and eight "Sams", already operating under Holt's management. The post-war building programme consists of twenty-two vessels grouped in three classes:— "Anchises" Class consisting of fourteen single-screw motorvessels of 8,300 gross registered tons, capable of sixteen knots, and carrying twelve passengers. Of these ten have been delivered, and a further two launched. "Peleus" Class consisting of four single-screw turbine, oil fired, of 10,250 gross registered tons, capable of eighteen knots, and carrying twenty-nine passengers. Of these one has been delivered, and a further one launched. "Helenus" Class consisting of four vessels similar to the "Peleus" class but with considerable refrigerated space for the Australian trade. Of these one has been launched. From its inception in 1852 to the present day, the company has been in the forefront of all development in ship construction and ship propulsion. The standard of construction has been independent of that demanded by the classification societies and, in the whole history of the company, no vessel has ever been lost by stress of weather.

Between 1925 and 1948 all new construction consisted of motor-vessels apart from two ships fitted with Scott-Still engines. The "Peleus" and "Helenus" classes, however, are steamers and have the largest horse-power ever developed on a single screw. The Clytoneus, which members of the Institution will have the opportunity of visiting, was built at Dundee by the Caledon Shipbuilding and Engineering Company and was launched on 9th April 1948 by the Lady Provost of Dundee. It was delivered in August 1948 and was the seventh vessel of the "Anchises" class to come into service. She sailed on her maiden voyage on 7th September 1948. The Diesel engines are of the two-stroke, double-acting, coverless type, built by Messrs. John G. Kincaid and Company, Ltd., of Greenock, and develop 6,800 b.h.p. at 116 r.p.m., with a maximum of 7,300 b.h.p. This is the second ship to bear the name Clytoneus; her predecessor, a motor-vessel of 6,600 gross registered tons, was built in 1930 by Scott's Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Ltd., of Greenock, and was burnt out in 1941, after an aerial attack north-west of Ireland when she was homeward bound, unescorted, from the Netherlands East Indies.



The main works and research laboratories of the General Chemicals Division of I.C.I., Ltd., are located on Merseyside, some in Widnes on the north bank of the River Mersey, and others in Runcorn on the south bank. A number of the works in Widnes were built in the early part of the nineteenth century, and in 1890 were merged into the United Alkali Company, Ltd.

On the formation of Imperial Chemical Industries, Ltd., in 1927, the works of the United Alkali Company in Widnes, and the Castner-Kellner Alkali Company in Runcorn, which at that time was a subsidiary company of Messrs. Brunner Mond and Company, Ltd., of Northwich, became the Merseyside works of the General Chemicals Division of I.C.I., Ltd. The works of the Chemical and Metallurgical Corporation, Ltd., on the Runcorn side of the river, were acquired at a later date.

A large variety of chemicals are manufactured in these various works, the majority of which are derived from the three primary products, namely, sulphuric acid, caustic soda, and chlorine. Associated with these works are power stations for the production of the electricity required for electrolytic manufacturing processes, and for general works purposes. Only limited sections of the works can be inspected in detail during the course of a one-day visit, and a selection has been made of those sections likely to prove of the greatest interest to mechanical engineers.

On the Runcorn side of the river a visit will be paid to the carbide plant in the Castner-Kellner works. Carbide, which is manufactured from lime and coke, is required for the production of acetylene for use in the manufacture of chlorinated solvents and other chemicals. The present furnace is supplied with 6,000 kW. of electrical energy obtained from the power station in the Castner-Kellner works. In the same works a large extension to the power station is of considerable interest. Heavy piling for the new boiler house has been carried out in close proximity to the existing operating power station. The extension involves the installation of powdered-fuel fired boilers working at 625 lb. per sq. in., each having a capacity of 200,000 lb. per hr. of steam, and of 22,000 kW. turbo-generators.

A visit will also be paid to the Wigg West works to inspect a modern, sulphur-burning, contact, sulphuric acid plant, which was built during the war period. On the Widnes side of the river a visit to the research laboratories should be of considerable interest, where there is ample evidence of the service given by the engineer and physicist to chemical research. Well-equipped workshops, for all principal crafts, are available for the fabrication of laboratory and semi-technical scale plant and equipment. The metallurgical laboratory is equipped with modern tensile and compression testing machines and also a "Talysurf" surface measuring meter. There is also a 30 kVA. high-frequency induction furnace operating at 500,000 cycles per second. The research department is well served in all branches of modern spectrometry with instruments covering the visible, ultra-violet, infra-red, and X-ray ranges.

The equipment of the physics laboratory includes an electron microscope and mass spectrometer, the second of which was constructed entirely on the premises. Time will also be available for a visit to the West Bank power station, where there is an interesting installation of La Mont boilers, working at 625 lb. per sq. in., and each producing 75,000 lb. per hr. of steam.


W. and R. Jacob and Co

The company was founded in 1851 in Waterford, Ireland, and shortly afterwards moved to the present factory in Dublin. As the English trade expanded towards the end of the last century the need for a second factory in England became apparent, and the present premises at Aintree were opened in 1914. When the Irish Free State was formed in 1921 the organization was split up into two separate companies. The Aintree factory, which originally consisted of one block, was gradually expanded and now comprises three main manufacturing blocks and an office block, comprising 30 acres, and 400,000 square feet of roof. Approximately 1,500 employees are engaged in manufacturing alone; 75 per cent of whom are women. With one or two exceptions the manufacturing and packing processes are all carried out on the ground floor, raw materials entering the factory at one end and finished goods leaving at the other. In addition the company has various stock depots situated over the country, which are supplied with goods direct from the factory by the company's own long-distance motor fleet. Biscuit manufacturing plant has progressed considerably since the hand processing and peat ovens of the last century, and at Aintree the latest continuous cutting machines coupled to band-plant gas ovens can be seen. The factory is still in the course of being re-equipped and interesting comparisons can be made between some of the older plants and the latest ovens.

In addition to baking equipment, there is a considerable range of sandwiching and chocolate machinery to be seen. The factory has its own engineering shop and the majority of its staff are engaged in normal routine maintenance work which includes the maintenance of buildings. The shop is, however, capable of tackling major repair work as well as carrying out innovations and improvements to existing plant. The company manufactures all types of biscuits, both sweet and plain, in addition to cakes, but it is most renowned for its plain lines, particularly the famous cream cracker biscuit which was first introduced by Jacob and Company. At the present time a high percentage of output is reserved for the export market, although the company has, for a number of years, possessed a steady export trade.


Lever Brothers

Port Sunlight factory and village were founded in 1888 by Mr. William Lever (later Lord Leverhulme), and the factory is now the largest soap manufacturing unit in the Unilever organization.

In addition to the Port Sunlight factory, which covers an area of 156 acres, the adjacent Bromborough Port Industrial Estate includes the Bromborough Dock - the largest privately owned dock in the country - the Stork Margarine Works, and Price's, Ltd. - which are two Unilever companies—the hardening plant for treatment of oils, and several third party concerns such as Brotherton's, Fawcett Preston, Commercial Solvents, and more recently arrived companies such as Latham and Company and Cantie Switches. In addition, the estate includes a 16,000 kW. power station operating in parallel with the national grid. Plant is already on order for the establishment of a new oil mill adjacent to the Bromborough Dock and work on the erection will commence shortly.

The main Port Sunlight factory includes in its activities soap-making, oil-milling, cattle food manufacture, glycerine refining, and printing.

Oil Mills. Raw material for the oil mills is received at the Bromborough dock, where extensive handling and storage equipment is installed. This material is taken to the Port Sunlight mills on the company's internal rail system. Two independent plants are installed at the seed crushing mill:— (a) an "Albion", or cage-press, system which is used normally to process palm kernels, and (b) a two-stage system comprising "Krupp" low-pressure expellers followed by "Rose, Downs and Thompson" high-pressure, duplex expellers. The filtered oil is pumped to tanks in the factory or despatched to the Stork Margarine Works (or elsewhere) by tank wagon.

Batches of material such as oil cake, grain, vitamins, etc., are mixed in the compound mill, ground and then either packed as meals or formed into nuts or other shapes. The mechanical handling and storage equipment and the travelling scales are features of interest in this department.

Soap-making. The selection of a suitable blend of fatty materials is important in the production of good quality soap. The fats to be used are mixed, treated if necessary with bleaching earth, and pumped to the pan-rooms with approximately the correct amount of alkaline solution for complete saponification, which is completed by boiling with steam. Processes known as graining, washing, and fitting then follow and the "neat" soap, containing about 63 per cent of fatty matter, is obtained. This is then cooled, cut and stamped in the production of household bar and similar soaps, or used for the manufacture of other soap products.

Soap Flakes. Soap is fed to the chilling rolls of driers, and converted into ribbons which are fed into the warm-air zones of the continuous-band driers. After storage in silos, the soap ribbons are fed to multiple-roll mills, cutters on the last roll of which are arranged so as to produce diamond shape flakes.

Toilet Soap. The soap is dried as described for soap flakes and, after storage, is weighed automatically into mixers where perfume, etc., is added. The mixture is then homogenized and extruded into bars which are cut into billets, cooled, stamped, and packed.

Soap Powder. Soap base and other ingredients are charged into pressure vessels, agitated mechanically and heated to a temperature above atmospheric boiling point. The mixture is forced by compressed air into nozzles where it atomizes at the point of release. The process is essentially spray cooling, the net evaporation being small. The powder falls on to a travelling band and is fed to a pneumatic conveying, grading, and weathering system. Unduly coarse powder is rejected and the remainder is collected in a cyclone and passes to the packing machines.

Scouring Powders. Quartzite obtained from the company's North Wales quarry is calcined in continuous producer-gas fired furnaces, reduced by a jaw-crusher and tube mill, and then screened to remove oversize particles. The resultant material is mixed with soap powder and conveyed to the section where it is packed by a pneumatic system. The manufacture and filling of canisters can be seen in this section.

Liquid Soapless Detergents. This is a recently added department where solutions of the ingredients are mixed, filtered, and run to the bottle packing sections. Semi-automatic vacuum fillers are used, the capping and labelling being done by hand.

Crude Glycerine Recovery. The spent lyes received from the soaperies are purified by a precipitation treatment and then evaporated. This evaporation is in two stages, first to about 40 per cent glycerol in quadruple effect, and then to about 83 per cent in single effect. A double effect plant is available as stand-by.

Glycerine Refining. Crude glycerine is distilled in "Van Ruymbeke" stills under vacuum, and the vapours are fractionally condensed, the bulk of the glycerine being separated as product in the series of air condensers, and practically all the rest in the stripping towers.

Printing. The printing department covers approximately five acres, and it prints the cartons, wrappers, invoices, etc., required for Port Sunlight and other Unilever companies.

Research Laboratories. Research work is carried out at Port Sunlight for the whole of the Unilever organization and employs about one hundred and forty qualified personnel.

Engineering Organization. The engineering side of the firm is an important section and, in view of the wide field to be covered, is organized into mechanical, power, and civil engineering departments.

Port Sunlight Village. The garden village consists of about eight-hundred and sixty houses, all owned by the company. Particular reference may be made to the Lady Lever art gallery which contains a large collection of painting, furniture, and ceramics of all periods, but concentrates on the British schools.


Leyland Motors

Leyland Motors, Ltd., was founded in 1896 and can be looked upon as one of the pioneers of the commercial motor transport industry. The company's earliest activities were connected with the production of steam-propelled lawn mowers, and its introduction to commercial transport was through the medium of steam-propelled vehicles; the manufacture of these was so successful that in 1897 the firm was awarded the first prize in the Crewe trials. The site of the present works is related to the earliest building in which the company was founded. Rapid expansion took place, particularly with the introduction of the internal combustion engine, and by the year 1906 the company was well established in the field of commercial vehicle transport, and it now ranks as the largest commercial vehicle manufacturing concern in this country and probably the second largest in the world in its particular class. Not only has the company concentrated on the production of chassis to meet varied requirements, but it has been for some considerable time responsible for making vehicles complete with bodywork. Further, it has extensive foundries, both ferrous and non-ferrous, within the Leyland group of factories and at Leeds. Both the 1914-18 and the 1939-45 wars saw the whole of the productive activity concentrated on military equipment. In 1914-18 the principal product was the 3-ton military load-carrying vehicle, particularly for the R.A.F., and in 1939-45, owing to the extensive facilities then available, armoured fighting vehicles became of primary importance; components were manufactured for practically every production form of armoured fighting vehicle; complete vehicles were assembled of the "Covenanter", "Churchill", and "Cromwell" types and, finally, the company was responsible for the design and group production requirements of the famous "Comet". Research and development have always been to the fore; since 1930 considerable work has been done on the compression ignition engine, and since 1931 on hydraulic torque converters of the fully automatic type. At all times the company has sponsored a fresh approach to the problem of commercial transport and has developed many special vehicles, particularly for use on projects overseas.

One of the subsidiary works, at Chorley, some five miles from the Leyland headquarters, is devoted entirely to the manufacture of spare parts for the many designs of vehicles delivered in the course of years.

Overseas requirements have resulted in the build-up of a net-work of main depots and agencies in all the principal cities in the Commonwealth. In Canada, where there are extensive premises, a Canadian company has been registered for the handling and part manufacture of its products.

At the present time the company has an issued capital of £2,300,000, and its total assets are approximately £7,500,000; employees total upwards of 9,000 and its properties extend to over 300 acres.

Since the cessation of hostilities, engines with an output approximating to a total of 11 million horse-power have been turned out from the main engine shop.

The size of commercial vehicles manufactured ranges from 7-tons up to 15-tons payload capacity for home use, and there is a modified range, based on these vehicles, for use in overseas territories. On the passenger side, the double-deck bus, 56-seater capacity, with all-metal body, accounts for most of the output, although chassis are produced for carrying single-deck bodies. Active development work has been sponsored in connexion with chassisless vehicles of the stressed-skin type, and these are now about to go into production. Additionally, engines are modified for use as industrial units and marine engines; representative examples of the full range of products will be on exhibition outside the assembly hall during the course of the visit.


Liverpool Observatory

The supply of reliable tidal predictions and the accumulation of knowledge of the tides is a matter of far-reaching importance to all interested in shipping. Elementary methods of prediction in vogue a hundred years ago are not sufficient for modern conditions of navigation, and continuous research in the problems of analysis and prediction is necessary. It was this need which led to the founding of the Tidal Institute at the University of Liverpool in the year 1919, by Mr. Charles Booth and Sir Alfred Booth, with Professor Proudman as Director, and Dr. A. T. Doodson as Secretary (now Director). Since that time the subject has been revolutionized, and the accuracy of predictions has been greatly increased. The value of the work of the Tidal Institute is recognized throughout the world and its methods have been freely adopted. As a research institution it is unique. In other countries tidal work is done by government departments, and research on the subject takes a second place to routine activities. The Tidal Institute is primarily a research institute, but it provides tidal predictions as a means of income, and in those predictions it embodies all that has been discovered. It has very close relations with the Hydrographic Department of the Admiralty, with great benefit to the subject, for in that way practical problems are brought to its notice and its research finds practical outlets. The Institute possesses two tide-predicting machines and it has devoted much time to the study of the design and performance of such machines. These have interesting mechanical features and the problems of design are exceptional. Gear ratios of very great accuracy have to be used and the computation of these has been reduced to a fine art. Throughout its existence it has been brought into consultation by manufacturers and has supervised the design and construction on behalf of foreign governments. Its knowledge and experience are thus unrivalled and as a continuous interest is taken in improving the designs it is not surprising that the services of the Institute are required for every machine purchased by foreign governments. (The only machines not made in this country are two in number, one in the United States, and the other in Germany.) The Institute also designs and constructs apparatus for deep-sea experiments required for fundamental research.

At the present time the Tidal Institute is responsible for most of the tidal predictions for ports in the British Commonwealth; Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the Colonies all send their problems for investigation and are provided with predictions.

In recent years the Institute has also been interested in hydraulic problems, such as those associated with the effects of barrages and harbour improvements on the tides. These problems are of increasing importance. The theory of tides, of course, is regarded as a mystery by most people. Abstruse mathematical problems have been studied in relation to tides in simple basins and oceans, all with a view to understanding the processes by which tides are propagated, and some of the results have been embodied in the Admiralty "Manual of Tides", which may claim to be the most comprehensive treatise on the subject within the limitations of the elementary mathematics utilized. It also deals briefly with the subject of the effects of wind on the sea. The last-named subject is one of increasing importance, and the Institute has been outstanding in research on it. Quite recently a large memoir has been prepared on storm-surges in the Thames estuary, and remarkable success has been obtained in calculating the observed effects from the meteorological data. Many years of work are embodied in that report, but the Institute has continually in view the possibility of issuing daily forecasts of such effects for all the important ports in the country. This would be a great boon to all concerned.


Manesty Machines

The firm of Manesty Machines, Ltd., are makers of tablet compressing machines, mixers, granulators, coating pans, drug mills, rouge compact presses, and automatic water stills.

The business was originated in 1905 by Alderman Edwin Thompson, J.P. (a former Lord Mayor of Liverpool), as a division of Thompson and Capper Wholesale, Ltd., Manufacturing Chemists. At that time there were very few tablet machines in this country, but the business gradually developed and, in 1935, it was found necessary to separate the pharmaceutical machinery side from that of the manufacturing chemists, and a new company, known as Manesty Machines, Ltd., was formed. In 1937 new works were opened at Speke, Liverpool. In 1946 Messrs. John Holroyd and Company, Ltd., machine tool makers and gear specialists, of Milnrow, near Rochdale, obtained a controlling interest in the company; in 1948 Alderman Edwin Thompson disposed of his interests and the company is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Messrs. John Holroyd and Company, Ltd.

Larger premises at Evans Road, Speke, were occupied in January 1949. Most of the tablet machines are now made at Milnrow, but a few models are made at Speke, where punches and dies for all types of tablet machines, and a large range of automatic water stills are also made. The works are not very large - about one acre in extent - but over 50 per cent of the output at present is being exported. Both the tablet machines and automatic water stills have found their way into almost every industry; the tablet machines are used for foundry chemicals, powder metallurgy, self-lubricating bearings, ceramics, plastics, confectionery, catalysts and fertilizers, in addition to medicinal tablets. The automatic water stills are used wherever high quality distilled water is required, and one at least is usually found in most works laboratories; they are included in anodizing plant, for electrolysis, for use with electric batteries, in addition to very extensive use in the pharmaceutical, veterinary, and cosmetic fields. In addition to machining, hardening, and assembly shops the company has an experimental department, under the control of a chemist, where customers' materials are processed and tested on compressing machines. In this department it will be possible for visitors to see the entire process of tablet making, from the mixing of the powders to the final tablet.



The business now carried on by Meccano, Ltd., was originally started in 1901 in a small room equipped with a few hand presses, a lathe or two, and a small gas engine. The present factory, which dates from 1913, consists of spacious well-lighted workshops covering nearly five acres, with every department except one on the ground floor. Nearly three thousand hands are employed in the production of "Meccano" outfits, "Hornby" clockwork and electric trains, "Dinky" toys, and "Dinky" builder outfits. Of special interest is the rail-making plant in the press department, where standard sheets of tinplate are transformed into rails by passing them through rotary guillotines and quadruple action presses, which, in a single operation, produce rails of Vignoles section at the rate of forty to fifty per minute, while a moving belt carried the rails clear of the presses for the purpose of curving, then to assembling and packing. Other interesting units are the Wright high-speed dieing machines, which are used particularly for blanking operations. With a double tool, these machines can produce two hundred thousand 54-inch strips in an eight-and-a-half-hour day, a striking contrast to the output of one thousand two hundred strips from a hand-fed power press working at normal speed. Using a multiple tool, the machine can produce as many as one million washers per day. The making of sprocket chain can be seen in the machine department. The chain-making machines work with a coil of fine steel wire which is rolled straight as it enters the machine. Short lengths of wire are sheared off, shaped into links, and connected up with the preceding links at a speed of one hundred and sixty per minute. Much of the material from the press department is transferred to the barrelling department, where it is "tumbled" in suitable media for the removal of burrs, and partial cleaning. Final cleaning is carried out by modern methods, utilizing vaporized trichlorethylene in specially constructed tanks. The parts are then enamelled by the latest type of paint spraying apparatus. They are spring clipped on to frames drawn by endless chains through two spraying booths, are then transferred to carriers which travel through the drying oven, and finally are delivered at the starting point after being subjected for two hours to a temperature of 180 deg. F. There are also three automatic multi-spindle spraying machines which, after being hand-fed, automatically spins the part within the range of three or four "pistols", where they receive an even and complete coating of colour. An average of about one hundred and twenty thousand pieces are sprayed every day in this department. The die-casting section is noteworthy for the production of Dinky toys and parts for Hornby-Dublo trains, and consists of Madison Kipp, Riwo, E.M.B., and M.55A machines of Diecast Machines, Ltd. The casting speeds vary from two hundred shots per hour on the E.M.B. to six hundred per hour on the M.55A machines.

It is interesting to note the introduction of the roto-finish method of deburring the castings. The parts are loaded into the compartments and tumbled at a speed of twenty-five revolutions per minute for periods up to four hours thus eliminating the necessity for hand trimming.

A feature of the electrical department, where transformers and locomotive motors are wound and assembled, is the equipment provided for the routine testing of transformers for both standard and non-standard supplies. The test gear includes apparatus for flash testing up to 5,000 volts; a performance test panel, where any likely combination of circuit arrangements can be preselected; and a frequency changer for providing a single-phase supply of any voltage up to 250 at any frequency between 25 and 100 cycles per second. A point of interest is the inclusion of radio suppression devices on all electric locomotives.

Practically the whole of the operations in the factory are carried out on line assembly methods, and conveyors are used for every possible purpose. An extensive system of overhead monorail conveyers facilitates "feeding" the various departments and carries away the finished products. Rapid internal transport is attained by the use of electric trucks.


Mersey Docks and Harbour Board

Dredging. The Mersey Docks and Harbour Board control and administer the Dock Estate at Liverpool and Birkenhead, which has a total area of 2,108 acres, exclusive of foreshore. The water area of the enclosed docks is over 650 acres and the lineal quayage slightly over 38 miles. The Board are also responsible for the dredging work in the sea channels in Liverpool Bay, forming the approaches to the River Mersey. Improvement and maintenance work in connexion with these channels is under the control of the engineer's department and is carried out by self-propelled, twin-screw, hopper, sand-pump dredgers. Four vessels are at present engaged on this work, having a total aggregate hopper capacity of 20,500 tons of sand. These vessels work at various sites in the sea channels and also in the River Mersey on Pluckington Bank, adjacent to the Brunswick Dock entrance. The quantity of material dealt with varies, but is in the order of eight to ten million tons per annum. The largest vessel, the Leviathan, has a hopper capacity of 10,000 tons, the other vessels have a hopper capacity of 3,500 tons and both load themselves in about one hour through side suction pipes, from a maximum depth of about 65 feet below the water line. In addition to the sand-pump dredgers, nine self-propelled grab hopper dredgers are employed upon the removal of the silt which accumulates in the enclosed docks system. The latest additions to this fleet comprise two vessels having a hopper capacity of 1,350 tons of silt, each equipped with three grab cranes, whilst a smaller vessel for special work has a hopper capacity of 330 tons of silt and is equipped with one grab crane. These three vessels are of interest in that they are powered by Diesel-electric machinery—the circuit being on the controlled constant current system—which is available for either or both propelling and deck machinery. Four bucket ladder dredgers with their attendant self-propelled steam hopper barges for carrying the spoil are also employed on work at the various dock entrances and for new constructional work. Seven self-propelled floating cranes are available for work of general cargo handling and other work in connexion with the dock estate. These cranes vary in capacity from 200 to 25 tons.

Gladstone Dock. The Gladstone System of Docks comprises (a) A river entrance lock 1,070 feet long and 130 feet wide, divided into two compartments having sills 20 feet below bay datum, which will enable the largest ships to go in and out on every single tide of the year, while ordinary sized ships, having a draught of, say, 28 feet, can enter and leave at any time, except for a very small number of hours each side of low water on spring tides. (b) A connecting lock, 645 feet long and 90 feet wide, divided into two compartments between the adjoining dock systems and the Gladstone docks. This lock was very badly damaged by enemy action during the War and has now been repaired at a cost of about L195,000. (c) A vestibule or turning dock called the Gladstone Dock, having a water area of about twenty-five acres, entered from the river by the entrance lock, and from the adjoining dock systems by the connecting lock, and having single-storey sheds on the north and west quays. (d) A branch dock called the Gladstone Branch Dock No. 1, 400 feet wide, with quays 1,491 feet and 1,217 feet long, opening out of the vestibule dock and having treble storey reinforced concrete sheds on the north and south sides. (e) A branch dock called the Gladstone Branch Dock No. 2, 400 feet wide, with quays 1,264 feet and 1,233 feet long, also opening out of the vestibule dock and having treble storey reinforced concrete sheds on the north and south sides. The sheds and quays of the docks are equipped with electric cranes and other appliances for the rapid handling of goods. (f) A dry dock called the Gladstone Graving Dock, 1,050 ft. 4 in. long with an entrance 120 feet wide. Vessels using the graving dock are supported on keel blocks which extend over the full length of the floor and bilge blocks operated by mechanical means. In order that the graving dock may be rapidly cleared of water, powerful pumping machinery has been installed, consisting of five sets of centrifugal pumps with discharge pipes 54 inches in diameter, each pump being driven direct by a vertical four-cylinder, two-cycle, Diesel oil-engine, running ordinarily at 180 r.p.m., and capable of developing 1,000 h.p., the total power thus being 5,000 h.p. These pumps can empty the whole contents of the dock, about 44 million gallons with the level of 28 feet in the body of the dock, in two and a half hours, or at the rate of 1,300 tons per minute. The graving dock was opened in 1913 and the remainder of the system in 1927. Amongst the vessels regularly using these docks are those of the Canadian Pacific Steamships, Ltd., trading to Canada, United States Lines to U.S.A., and Alfred Holt and Company, from the Far East and to Australia and New Zealand.

Port Radar Station. An aerial of some 15 feet aperture and weighing 3 tons is provided at the top of an 80-foot ferro-concrete tower. This aerial, continuously rotating at 10 r.p.m., provides a narrow beam of 0.7 deg. The aerial has been designed to withstand wind velocities of up to 100 m.p.h. and large changes of temperature without distortion. The turning gear is mounted in a completely closed room at the top of the tower so that routine inspection and maintenance may be carried out without difficulty. A three-centimetre transmitter and receiver unit is mounted in the radar room in the building adjacent to the foot of the tower and the frame-work containing these also contains all the master timing circuits and control gear. In the same room is housed the display console containing six plan-position indicators. One of these displays shows a small general view of the whole of Liverpool Bay and four more show large-scale true plan views of particular sectors of the approach channels, so that a large-scale mosaic is built up. The sixth also shows a large-scale plan display but the region which it covers can be varied at the will of the operator to cover any desired part of the Liverpool Bay. In all cases the large-scale displays are to the same scale to facilitate cross-reference. They are all true plan shape to aid recognition, and each has in front of it a reproduction of the chart by means of which the positions of buoys may be checked, and it also shows a standard grid superimposed on it so that the position of any echo may be read off directly as a grid reference. The display console also contains a set of controls by means of which the whole installation can be switched on and off and operated. Throughout the equipment, high-grade components, run well within their rating, have been employed so as to achieve the highest possible standard of reliability. Considerable thought has also been given to maintenance facilities. Each major unit contains a built-in meter which can be plugged in to any of the sub-units and switched on. This allows the meter to be connected rapidly to a large number of check points within the circuit. If the unit is working correctly, the meter should show a standard indication of 100 per cent; in this way a faulty unit is very rapidly located. A complete set of spare sub-units is carried at the radar station so that, in the event of a failure, the faulty unit can be rapidly withdrawn, a new unit plugged in in its place and the equipment put back into operation immediately; the faulty unit is then serviced at leisure. In the case of the display console, each one of the six displays is mounted in a frame-work which wheels into the console on rail guides and a complete spare display unit is carried at the station, so that this can be wheeled in complete if a replacement is necessary.

The performance characteristics are set forth below:—

  • Wave length . 3 centimetres
  • Peak power . 30 kilowatts
  • Pulse length . 0.25 micro-second
  • Horizontal beam width . 0.7 deg.
  • Vertical beam width . 5 deg.
  • Side lobes in horizontal plane . 24 db down
  • Repetition rate . 1,000 cycles per sec.
  • Large-scale display scale . 2 inches to 1 nautical mile
  • Small-scale display scale . 1 inch to 1 nautical mile
  • Display accuracy . 1 per cent in range by 4 deg. in bearing
  • Range of scan . 20 miles

Liverpool was the first port in the world to utilize radar on a full-scale basis for the purpose of assisting vessels in and out of the port, and a radar of extremely high discrimination is required to provide supervision of its approaches. The length and narrowness of the channel demands a high bearing discrimination, and also a very large display scale, and the ability to handle large volumes of traffic also means that the equipment must be easy to use; if a reliable service is to be provided every precaution must be taken to achieve the maximum freedom from breakdown.

Since radar rays penetrate both dark and fog, the installation is unaffected by conditions of visibility and greatly assists the smooth running of the port, enabling it to remain open under conditions which might otherwise necessitate a shut-down.

For example, in foggy weather in November 1948, among the ships which were given information by radio-telephony from the port radar station was the 13,500-ton Cunard White Star liner Parthia, which, after leaving for New York the previous day, had been fog-bound overnight in the Crosby Channel. In addition, four inward-bound ships, the Northumberland from Brisbane with 7,500 tons of cargo, the Cetus from Archangel, the Southern Island from Skutskar, and the Fort Buffalo from Swansea, proceeded up-river with radar assistance, while the Isle of Man steamers King Orry, outward-bound, and the Mona's Queen, inward from Douglas, were also given guidance.


Milners Safe Co

The firm of Thomas Milner dates back to 1830. In the year 1874, a public company was formed which took over the old factory building at Smithdown Lane, Liverpool, and opened further branches in Manchester and London.

Lord Ritchie of Dundee was the first chairman and, upon becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer, his cousin, Sir James Ritchie, who in 1903 became Lord Mayor of London, succeeded him as chairman. His grandson, Sir James E. T. Ritchie, Bart., is the present chairman.

For nearly three-quarters of a century the activities of the company were confined to the manufacture of steel safes, strong rooms, strong-room doors, and safe deposits; the company has installed security equipment of this kind in banks of national and international renown.

In the early part of the century, the company extended its activities into the field of light steel works and office equipment, and these products, including small cash boxes, vertical filing cabinets, office desks, and double floor steel shelving for works stores, together with steel safes, are being exported to all parts of the world.

In 1937, the Liverpool corporation took over the old works under the housing development scheme, and a completely new factory, the Phoenix works, covering fifteen acres, was built on the Liverpool corporation new trading estate at Speke.

The present factory was completed in 1939, and its activities were immediately turned to day and night production and the testing of many thousands of armoured fighting vehicles. The reconversion to normal production has been undertaken in conjunction with the redesign and development of all the firm's products. The actual factory area is nine acres. The main factory building has seven main shops, four of which are serviced with overhead cranes, the capacity of which ranges from 71 to 25 tons. The annex buildings comprise a well-equipped tool room, a heat treatment and testing department, and a foundry equipped for iron and non-ferrous castings. The welfare of all employees is considered, canteen welfare, sports and social facilities being available for all workers. In 1944, the company bought over and absorbed the old-established firm of Whitfield Safe Company, Birmingham, and thus added a lighter type of fire-resisting safe to its already extensive range of products.


Sutton Manor Colliery

Sutton Manor Colliery is one of the seventy-three collieries of the north-western division of the National Coal Board, which at present produce some 14,000,000 tons of coal per annum. It is situated in a pleasant stretch of country in south-west Lancashire, a few miles south of St. Helens and due east of Liverpool. This area is a developing one as far as the north-western coalfield is concerned and, as the older collieries to the north, in the direction of Wigan, eventually die out, it is the intention of the board to develop the large reserves of coal available in the district south of St. Helens. These reserves are deep and will involve the sinking of some new shafts, one of which is planned for the neighbouring Bold colliery, which is to be entirely reorganized and developed for an ultimate output rising to 6,000 tons per day, employing "horizon mining" methods as practised on the continent, including Koepe winding. This project is being carried out in close collaboration with the British Electricity Authority's proposed new St. Helens power station on an adjacent site for the direct conveyance of fuel from the colliery to the boiler house. The present Sutton Manor Colliery which, pre-vesting date, was closely associated with the Richard Evans group, is a fairly old one and it is hoped to reorganize and develop it on more modern lines although not perhaps on the same scale as the future Bold colliery. This will involve deepening the existing shafts and driving underground tunnels for locomotive haulage. It employs more than 1,300 men underground and on the surface, and produces round about 7,000 tons of coal a week, contributing its full quota to the tonnage raised in the No. 3 (St. Helens) area, which comprises ten collieries. It has a full meals canteen and pithead baths, and there is a colliery institute providing the usual recreational amenities. There are two pits, each with a pair of steam-driven compound horizontal winding engines. On the surface there are two screening plants, one for each of the two main winding shafts, where coal is cleaned and prepared in various sizes at the rate of 350 tons an hour. Slack is sent on a travelling belt to an adjacent washery where the dirt is cleaned from the coal and the fuel is sized into commercial products. The discard from the washery and screening plant is taken away by an aerial ropeway. Steam and electrical power is at present generated at the colliery using low-grade fuel, and an electrical connexion exists with the Area Electricity Board's network. Both electricity and compressed air are used underground, the surface compressor units and also the 600,000 cu. ft. per min. mine ventilating fan being steam driven. An area testing station for colliery winding ropes, and also for compressed-air-driven coal cutter and conveyor turbines is situated on the colliery premises. In order to prove that the seams of coal available in the area south of St. Helens exist at workable depths a programme of deep boring is being undertaken and samples of the underlying strata are brought to the surface for examination and depths recorded. One of these boreholes is situated at Tan House Lane, Burtonwood. This borehole was drilled by the percussive method by a mobile machine to a depth of 823 feet, the diameter being 9.68 inches to 409 feet and 7.87 inches to 823 feet. This percussive method, which gives chippings, was adopted because the stratum was already known to a depth of 1,800 feet. After the percussive drilling, the present rig was built and rotary drilling with a diamond bit was done to a depth to date of 3,230 feet, the diameter being reduced by stages until this is now 4.57 inches giving a 3.5-inch core. The bit cuts out the core, which is held by a spring in a core barrel about 10 feet long. The hole is cased with steel casing as and when required to prevent the sides from collapsing, and after each length of casing has been inserted it becomes necessary to reduce the diameter of the hole. To act as a protection to the walls of the hole below the casing, mud is circulated through the hole via the drilling rods and the core barrel, up the hole back to the surface on the outside of the rods. The mud, which is Bentonite, a proprietary product consisting mostly of "fuller's earth" forms a wall on the uncased sides of the hole.


William Neill and Son

The business was first started on the present site by William Neill in 1872 and for a period of some twenty-five or thirty years it held an important place in the production of iron castings and the manufacture of plant for the chemical and coal industries, which were then rapidly developing in the south-west Lancashire area.

The business passed out of the Neill family and became a private company in 1907, and in 1933 it was reconstructed and taken over by the present management. During the last sixteen years it has been quadrupled in size and it now covers an area of approximately seven acres.

The works are divided into two sections, one for plate fabrication, tank and chemical plant manufacture, and the other for the fabrication of structural steel framed buildings, bridge work, etc. The plate shop comprises two bays, each 580 feet long, and two subsidiary bays 130 feet long, with template shop, stores buildings, canteens, etc. The structural shop comprises two bays, one 310 feet long and the other 190 feet long, with template shop and machine shop.

All the buildings are equipped with overhead electric cranes varying in lifting capacity from 2 tons to 30 tons, there being fourteen in all, and the stock yards are controlled by six electrically operated derrick cranes, with jibs varying from 75 feet to 110 feet long. The shops are equipped with modern machines for the manufacture of storage tanks, chemical plant, and structural work, and two machines of special interest (just installed) may be mentioned: —

(a) The special gas burning equipment for plate edge preparation capable of performing simultaneously nine burning operations; and,

(b) The "Fusarc" automatic electric welding machine capable of welding (at one setting) vessels 34 feet long and varying in diameter from 2 feet to 14 feet.

The company's products cover a very wide range and include general chemical plant comprising electrically welded and riveted vessels of all types, petroleum refining plant including fractionating towers, heat exchangers, condensers, bulk oil-storage tanks up to 150 feet in diameter, coal preparation plant including washer boxes, flotation machines, screens, filters, etc., vegetable oil refining plant such as deodorizers, bleachers, etc., underground battery driven locomotives of 7-ton and 10-ton capacity, chemical lead work, structural steelwork and bridge work.

The 1938 defence programme saw the company in the forefront with its patented design of electrically welded underground petroleum storage tanks. Hundreds of these tanks, each of more than one million gallons capacity, were erected, both in this country and the Middle East.

Prefabricated units of small ships, barges, pontoons for the Mulberry harbour, lift platforms for aircraft carriers, and a host of diverse war materials have taken shape in the assembly shops.

Another product turned out in vast quantities was an ingenious design of bolted petroleum storage tank made from light gauge material; this design of tank was used extensively on the second front, and was so successful that it is still in demand by oil companies for field use abroad.



The firm of Pilkington Brothers, Ltd., was established in 1826 at St. Helens for the manufacture of crown glass; the site was chosen because of the availability of indigenous raw materials, and the proximity to a canal and a coastal port.

After the establishment of the crown glass industry, developments included the cylinder blown and cylinder drawn processes, which finally gave place to the modern flat drawn method, in which a ribbon of flat glass is drawn vertically upward from a bath of molten glass.

Concurrently with these developments, the manufacture of rolled, cathedral and figured rolled, and wired glasses, previously made by the ladle process gave place to the continuous rolled method of manufacture.

This gradual, but constant, development, notable since the beginning of the present century, but particularly so during the last twenty-five years, covers now almost wholly mechanized methods of manufacture.

The industry calls not only for the necessary production plant and administrative staff, but also for many ancillary activities. These include service and maintenance departments and a self-contained timber yard, in addition to a completely equipped research laboratory, and personnel and welfare departments. The internal works transport system uses twenty works locomotives running over fifty miles of single line siding which deal with an incoming traffic alone amounting to nearly 1,000,000 tons per year. The amount of material despatched - almost wholly glass - averages over 320,000 tons a year, in which a modern fleet of over one hundred and thirty road vehicles plays an important part.

Over twenty-five thousand different commodities have to be provided for the production of the glass and the maintenance of the works. These range from materials arriving in train loads to small registered postal packets containing industrial diamonds and platinum-rhodium thermocouple wires. The electricity generated and purchased in a year is equal to that consumed for lighting by the households in a city the size of Nottingham, and the yearly consumption of coal is equal to the total domestic rations of 200,000 households. The amount of timber consumed annually for packing cases is equivalent to 80,000 trees of the size normally felled in Eastern Canada or Sweden.

The comprehensive welfare arrangements of the firm include the recreation club, which covers full winter and summer pastimes and sports on the social and recreational side; a pension and staff superannuation scheme; a holidays with pay scheme; and completely equipped works canteens.

A full-time education officer, who is in close touch with the local education authorities, operates a staff training scheme.

Safety officers, accident prevention committees, and protective clothing assist in keeping down the hazards of the industry. A full-time medical officer has charge of a complete surgical unit which includes an operating theatre, a dispensary, an X-ray outfit, and a twenty-four hour nursing service. A radiography unit was installed in 1941 and a rehabilitation centre includes a gymnasium and physiotherapy room. Further necessary treatment, in the form of light work of a restorative character, is carried out in a well-equipped workshop.

Glass melting tanks are the method adopted for the continuous melting of the raw materials—chiefly sand, soda-ash, limestone, and dolomite. Such tanks can be as large as 120 feet long by 30 feet wide and 5 feet deep, and may contain up to 1,200 tons of molten glass. The raw materials are mixed in the right proportions and fed into one end of the tank; after melting, the resulting molten glass is refined, cooled, and drawn off at the other end.

For modern constructional glasses, drawing and rolling are the chief processes employed—drawing for the production of flat drawn sheet glass, and rolling for the production of rough cast plate, wired, plain, and patterned glasses, such as cathedral and figured rolled glasses.

The processes to be seen cover the manufacture of polished plate glass, which, in the first instance, is rolled in the form of a ribbon, both surfaces of which are subsequently ground and polished. This process will be seen during the visit.

Plate glass was first introduced into this country in 1615, being made by the "blown" process. It was not until 1773, when the British Cast Plate Glass Company came into being at Ravenhead, St. Helens, that plate glass was made in England by the process of rolling. By 1789 mechanical methods began to appear for the grinding and polishing of the surfaces of the glass. In 1901 the firm purchased the Ravenhead Plate Glass Company, where the manufacture of polished plate glass was continued until 1917, when the factory was turned over to the manufacture of other types of glass.

An entirely new polished plate glass works was erected in St. Helens in 1876, and it was there that, in 1902, the first mechanically operated lehr for the annealing of plate glass was developed.

The original method consisted of pouring the contents of a special clay pot on to a cast-iron casting table and then rolling out like pastry. After annealing, the sheets of glass were ground, smoothed, and then polished on circular tables 22 feet in diameter (later displaced by 36-foot tables), the abrasives for grinding and smoothing being sand in water, and for polishing wet rouge under felt-covered pads.

A radical departure from this method consisted of pouring the contents of the clay pot between two rollers from which the molten glass issued in the form of a ribbon; this process is still in operation for the manufacture of polished plate glass of special thicknesses and sizes, the grinding and polishing being carried out by the table method.

These methods continued until early 1923 when a continuous method of grinding and polishing, which superseded the disk method for standard thicknesses and widths of glass, was perfected. These machines were approximately 650 feet long.

The production of polished plate glass was then made direct from the melting tank. The ribbon of rough rolled glass is passed between twin sets of grinding and smoothing heads, both surfaces being machined simultaneously.

Polished plate glass can be made in a variety of thicknesses from 2.6 mm. up to 14 inches thick, the thinner substances being required for special purposes, and for the manufacture of laminated glasses for motor-cars, the thicker substances being used for ships' port holes, etc.

The uses of polished plate glass are not wholly constructional. By means of tinting or surface treatment, such as silvering, embossing, stippling, sandblasting, brilliant cutting, or by a combination of some of these methods, a wide range of decorative effects can be obtained. By additional thermal treatments, glass, plain or decorated, can be "toughened" to acquire the properties of strength and harmless fragmentation, characteristic of safety glass and "armourplate".



Thornton Research Centre. The Thornton Research Centre is a recent addition to the research facilities of the world-wide "Shell" group. An aero-engine laboratory was built in 1940 and, during the war, was operated as the Ministry of Aircraft Production fuel and oil research laboratory. Since those days, there has been a steady expansion both in buildings and in the scope of the work carried out, and there have evolved laboratories of almost 750,000 square feet of floor space, integrated and controlled as one unit and manned by a staff of about nine hundred. The centre has the Stanlow refineries and oil docks on the north-west, with the new "Shell" Chemical Plant and the first units of the large Middle East Crude Refinery on the west.

The research carried out at the centre is largely applicational and covers a wide range of petroleum products. It can be divided into two main groups: the first group comprises the engine testing and mechanical rig work, together with the physical chemistry necessarily associated with applicational research on fuels and lubricants. The second consists of purely chemical research concerned with the development and utilization of new chemicals and by-products from the refinery processes.

Thornton Research Centre is particularly well equipped for the former type of work, having a wide range of modern engine types at its disposal. There are, in fact, about eighty engines installed, ranging from small two-stroke, motor-cycle engines, to large medium-speed, marine Diesels. Numerous rigs, large and small, are also used for studying gear and bearing lubrication, cylinder wear, gas-turbine combustion, fuel spray characteristics, oil and fuel inflammability, the behaviour of fuels and lubricants at extremes of temperature and pressure, as well as the functioning of lubricants in some of the many industrial applications.

It is often remarked that burning coal and oil fuel is wasteful of valuable chemicals. In this connexion, the production of chemicals in the form of detergents, surface coatings, solvents, agricultural chemicals, and plasticizers is a comparatively new, but rapidly expanding, industry. Thornton is actively engaged in synthesizing some of these materials from petroleum—in some cases from those products which would otherwise be burnt as fuel. An extensive pilot plant section is used for the production of experimental quantities on a technical scale.

A number of sections specializing in analysis, photography, X-ray examination, and spectroscopy are used by chemists and engineers alike. There is also a metallurgical section which deals with many "field" problems arising from the use of petroleum; in certain instances, alloys highly resistant to attack have been developed. There is a large central workshop and two smaller ones.

The devising of suitable instrumentation for the many branches of science covered by the research programme is in the hands of an applied physics section. Controlling instruments for pilot plants and for long duration tests, and electronic equipment for studying the combustion process in internal combustion engines, all come within the scope of this section.

Stanlow Refinery. The Stanlow refinery of the "Shell" Refining and Marketing Company, Ltd., is situated adjacent to the Manchester Ship Canal, some four miles from its entrance. Its location provides easy access for ocean-going and coastal tankers, while convenient rail and road facilities are available for distribution of the products of the refinery.

Motor spirit, aviation spirit, kerosene, Diesel and fuel oils, bitumen and lubricating oils are manufactured or blended and distributed direct to customers, or to the depots of Shell-Mex and B.P., Ltd., in bulk or package. Export and coastal deliveries can be made via the Manchester Ship Canal, or by road or rail transhipment from Ellesmere Port, Birkenhead, or Liverpool.

The construction of the refinery and the associated installation for the storage, blending, and distribution of products was commenced in 1923. The original site of fifty acres was extended in 1938 and 1940, and the refinery now covers an area of approximately twelve hundred acres, divided into two main sections.

In the northern section, fronting the ship canal, are plants for the manufacture and refining of bitumen, special benzine distillates, high-grade lubricating oils, aviation benzine, and synthetic detergents. In the southern section a series of plants for the production of petroleum chemicals has recently been completed by "Shell" Chemical Manufacturing Company, Ltd., and the construction of a large modern refinery has been commenced by "Shell" Refining and Marketing Company, Ltd. This latter refinery will process imported crude petroleum, primarily for the manufacture of motor spirits, Diesel oils and fuel oils.

The various feedstocks and products are stored in vertical cylindrical tanks of steel construction and of capacities up to two-and-a-half million gallons. Total storage capacity amounts to nearly two hundred million gallons.

Modern water-tube boilers provide the large quantity of steam required. Oil and gas fuels, electricity, cooling and process water, compressed air, and chemicals are also used in large quantities.

The plants are specially designed, and constructed mainly of steel. Direct-fired tubular heaters and tubular heat exchangers, condensers, and coolers are used together with a wide variety of electrically and steam operated pumps. Temperatures, pressures, flows, etc., are in general controlled by automatic instruments of various kinds.

Large laboratories control the quality of products, and a special department carries out technological investigation and development of operating processes.

Supervision of refinery operations is carried out by plant chemists, and operatives receive special training in process work.

A large engineering force is required for constructional, maintenance, and repair work, and the engineering workshops are well equipped with modern machines. Much of the material handled consists of steel pipe and valves of large diameter.

Service departments include materials stores, and transport. Canteens and medical and welfare services are provided. There are special sections for training staff and operatives. Special precautions are taken against fire risks. The company has its own fire brigade and special fire-fighting equipment is provided in all parts of the refinery.

Approximately 3,700 people, including clerical and laboratory staffs, are employed. Sports grounds are provided by the company and there are facilities for recreational and social activities.

Petroleum products of all kinds play an important part in Britain's recovery programme and the Stanlow refinery is operated to maximum capacity. In this connexion, the reduction of non-operation time by efficient engineering maintenance and well-planned and rapid repair and overhaul of plant is a vital necessity.


John Summers and Sons

The firm of John Summers and Sons, Ltd., was founded in Stalybridge in 1851 for the manufacture of clog irons; the following year a nail making machine was acquired to produce nails for fastening the clog irons to the clogs, and in 1860 puddling furnaces, a steam hammer, and the first sheet rolling mill were installed for the production of the necessary raw materials. A galvanizing plant was installed for making galvanized-steel corrugated roofing sheets, the first galvanized sheet being produced in 1894. In 1895, the site at Shotton was acquired, and one year later the new plant, which comprised six sheet mills driven by a steam engine, with galvanizing and finishing equipment, started work.

The rapid development continued, and at present the Hawarden Bridge steelworks cover two-hundred and fifty acres, with a further seven-hundred and fifty acres available for development. There are nearly six thousand employees at this works alone, and more than 8,000 tons of steel sheets leave the works each week. There are two steelworks, No. 1 having nine 50-ton furnaces, and No. 2, eight 70-ton furnaces. The slabbing mill, installed in 1939 is driven by a three-cylinder simple steam engine, and the hot strip mill, installed in the same year, has eight stands of rolls, each driven by an electric motor of about 3,000 h.p. The cold tandem mill reduces the thickness of the steel still further, after it has left the hot strip mill; its output is supplemented by the reversing mill - the latest to be installed at Hawarden Bridge and capable of rolling strip 72 inches wide - which is driven by a 2,500 h.p. electric motor.

For many years sheets have been manufactured in this country from sheet bars; the bar is cut to the required width of sheet, and rolled out to the ordered length and thickness by passing the sheared steel, piled in thicknesses, through a number of individual hand mills. Before the advent of the strip mill, certain improvements were made at Shotton to reduce the manual labour, and at the same time to increase the output and improve the quality of the product. Finally, a three-high mill (a mill having three rolls instead of the usual two) was installed, which, by its greater precision and more robust construction, improved the quality of the product.

Strip rolling has entirely revolutionized the manufacture of steel sheets, by making it possible to produce in one length of strip the desired finished gauge. To make this possible, the quality and weight of the raw material, and the size and design of the mills have undergone a radical change; instead of a sheet bar, a slab is produced in thicknesses varying from 34 to 6 inches, and in length, from 51- to 15+ feet. The slabs are then heated in continuous furnaces, prior to rolling on the hot strip mill which consists of a series of mills in tandem, each mill containing four rolls. The thinnest gauge obtainable on the average hot strip mill is sixteen gauge, and for finer gauges it is necessary to put the strip through a further, cold-rolling, process. For ease in handling, the strip is coiled after leaving the hot mill, and, before proceeding to the second rolling, it is subjected to a continuous pickling operation so as to remove the oxide coating which is present when the strip leaves the hot mill.

After the cold reduction process, the strip is trimmed and cut to size, and then transferred to the annealing department, where it receives heat treatment to remove the stresses set up by the cold reduction process, and to obtain the correct structure in the steel to meet the various uses demanded by respective customers. The strips are then passed to the final processes, such as cold rolling, levelling, etc., as required. They are then inspected, coated with oil to prevent rust and deterioration, and packed ready for dispatch. The best grades of steel are delivered, as far as possible, by the company's own fleet of lorries to ensure that they are received in good condition.

The uses to which steel sheets can be put have greatly increased during past years. The motor-car industry has been responsible for much of this development, but apart from that particular market, large quantities of sheets are used for the manufacture of a diversity of products ranging from steel toys to steel houses, and including all manner of household equipment. During the 1939-45 war, there was a further expansion in the use of steel sheets: the continuous strip mill contributed two million tons of sheet steel to the war effort, that was utilized in products ranging from "Anderson" shelters to bomb fins.


Van den Berghs

The Stork Margarine Works at Bromborough, the largest margarine-producing unit in the world, was erected in 1918 by Lever Brothers, Ltd., and produced margarine under the name of Planters Foods, Ltd. It occupies a site of about twenty-two acres close to the River Mersey, and is connected by a private railway system with the Port Sunlight works.

In 1930, following the amalgamation of Lever Brothers, Ltd., with the Margarine Union, the "Planters" installation was completely scrapped and replaced by a modern up-to-date margarine plant including a new oil refinery for treating edible oils.

Additional plant and equipment was installed up to the outbreak of war in 1939, to enable production to keep pace with increasing demand, and since the cessation of hostilities a policy of gradual but steady replacement of plant by more modern machines has been followed, particularly in the packing department.

Just over a year ago, an additional plant came into production for the manufacture and packing of domestic cooking fat on the most modern lines.

A development department is actively engaged at Bromborough, and new methods of production and new machines evolved here are being introduced into Unilever margarine factories in all parts of the world.

Power Services. The boiler plant comprises eight, 8 ft. 6 in. diameter by 30 feet Lancashire boilers fitted with Hodgkinson coking stokers and downtake superheaters. The installation includes a 448 feet by 9 feet tube "Green's" economizer, and motor-driven induced-draught fans.

Feed water is softened by the high-temperature soda-ash process, and de-aerated on a "Hick Hargreaves" plant. Approximately 6,000,000 lb. of steam at 150 lb. per sq. in. and 585 deg. F. are generated per week.

As refrigeration plays an important part in the manufacture of margarine, four "Atlas" ammonia compressor units are prominent in the separate building housing the power plant. These each comprise twin-opposed, double-acting, ammonia compressors driven by a horizontal, tandem, compound-condensing steam engine. Steam is passed out at 20 lb. per sq. in. between the high-pressure and low-pressure cylinders for factory water-heating and space-heating purposes. Final exhaust is condensed in jet condenser "Edwards" air pump units with natural draught cooling.

The compressors, two large and two smaller, have an installed refrigerating capacity of 1,200 tons under standard (5-86 deg. F.) conditions.

Two similar ammonia condensers of the atmospheric interlaced coil type are installed, having a total cooling surface of 16,500 sq. ft.

Electricity is purchased from Lever Brothers' central power station and received at 6,600 volts. Normal consumption for all purposes is about 125,000 kW.-hr. per week at 400 volts, 3 phase, 50 cycles, A.C.

The main source of water supply is an artesian well. A 14-inch diameter bore-hole, 376 feet deep, yields about 30,000 gallons per hour of a total hardness of 40 grains per gallon. Water is purchased from the local water board for drinking and direct process.

Oil Refinery. Crude oil is received in 10-ton rail and road tank-wagons, and pumped to storage tanks aggregating 700 tons capacity.

The refinery equipment comprises 30-ton neutralizer bleachers and "Johnson" filter presses of the plate-and-frame type with hydraulic tightening gear. Twenty-two-ton deodorizers are installed, each complete with fat separator and splash-plate type, counter-current, barometric condenser. Vacuum is maintained by air ejector equipment.

Refined oil storage capacity aggregates approximately 900 tons, all tanks being fitted with "Gravimeter" contents gauges.

Dairy. Reconstituted milk is pasteurized on the high-temperature, short-time principle, thermostatically controlled, using a stainless steel paraflow apparatus. The pasteurized milk is inoculated and soured in 650-gallon ripening tanks having pendulum grid heating-cooling coils. As the dairy is situated on the top floor, the treated milk can be run by gravity to the churns to be blended with the refined edible oils.

Margarine Process. The refined oils are blended in 30 cwt.capacity, jacketed, weigh-tanks and pumped to attemperating tanks for gravity flow to ten belt-driven churns. In these an emulsion is churned from the oil and milk phases, and pumped to four direct-expansion, 7.87 feet diameter, ammonia cooling drums each of 44 tons per hour capacity.

The flake margarine, which is formed on the drums and scraped off, is then triple-rolled on three "Multiplex" machines fitted with porphyry rollers. Each machine discharges on to alternate stainless steel clad kneading tables rotating at approximately 1-I r.p.m., with beaters revolving at 60 r.p.m. The product is transported between the various sets of rollers and the kneading tables on odourless white rubber belts, and between machines in aluminium containers of 3 tons capacity which are moved by battery driven electric elevating trucks. The aluminium containers are discharged into hoppers by specially designed electric elevating and tipping hoists, each of 5 tons capacity.

After a resting period, the semi-finished margarine is kneaded under vacuum in direct-driven mixing machines of the "Werner Pfleiderer" type, each having a capacity of about 8 tons per hour. The product is then tipped into small containers and stored in a cool store in readiness for detail packing.

Bulk packing is done in three "Johnson" bulk extruding machines producing 28 lb. or 56 lb. blocks at a rate of about 4 tons per hour each.

Detail Packing. Over 85 per cent of the margarine produced at Bromborough is wrapped in the familiar 1/2 lb. packet, and for this duty thirty-four moulding, weighing, and wrapping machines are installed. Twenty-six of these modern, British-made, "Forgrove" units are capable of producing ninety-two ready wrapped packets per minute.

A machine recently devised at Bromborough packs the wrapped 1/2 lb. pieces into fiberite cases. It is hoped to take a farther step towards the complete mechanization of this department by installing additional machines in accordance with the prototype.

Auxiliary Departments. These include can ice-making plant by Lightfoot Refrigeration Company (capacity 20 cwt. per hour); wagon-washing plant, including special tipper and sterilizing cabinets for both large and small aluminium containers; box-making department for assembling and repairing both wood and fiberite cases; control and research laboratories; special moisture testing and salt-testing laboratories.

Welfare. Modern well-equipped surgeries for males and females are provided, with a fully qualified nurse constantly on duty, while a medical officer is in attendance all day.

Overalls and clogs are provided for all workers, and the overalls are laundered on the premises. Changing rooms with auxiliary drying rooms and shower-baths are available, also a large airy canteen where meals are served at very low prices.

Well laid-out playing fields with a good pavilion are adjacent to the factory, and they cater for both outdoor and indoor recreation.


Vulcan Foundry

The Vulcan Foundry, builders of all types of locomotives, was founded in 1830 by Robert Stephenson in collaboration with Charles Tayleur, a Liverpool engineer. At that time Robert Stephenson was already managing a locomotive works in Newcastle upon Tyne but, finding it difficult to transport locomotives from his Newcastle factory to Lancashire for use on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, he decided to go into partnership with Charles Tayleur with a view to building engines on the spot.

The first locomotive to be built at Vulcan was produced for the North Union Railway and was named "Tayleur"; it was followed shortly afterwards by three more for the Warrington and Newton Railway which was opened in 1931.

In 1847 the Vulcan Foundry acquired the Bank Quay Foundry in Warrington; this resulted in interesting subsidiary activities including the manufacture of components for the Conway Bridge and Menai Straits Tubular Bridge, and the construction of the first iron sea-going vessel.

A long standing connexion with India commenced in 1852 when eight 2-4-0 passenger locomotives were exported for the Great Indian Peninsula Railway; these inaugurated the service on the first public railway in India from Bombay to Thana.

In 1871 the first locomotive to run in Japan was built at Vulcan, and locomotives of every description have been produced for railways all over the world, including engines and tenders weighing as much as 200 tons in working order.

During both world wars, the Vulcan Works were fully engaged on armament work and during the 1939-45 war the main items of production were tanks, torpedoes, gun mechanisms, etc. In 1943, however, production reverted to locomotives and 390 "Austerity" 2-8-0 type engines and tenders were built for the War Department. Since then the "Liberation" locomotive has been designed and built for the continent together with many other locomotives for home and overseas railways.

The works at Newton-le-Willows occupy an area of one hundred and twenty-nine acres, fourteen of which are covered by buildings. All the main shops, with the exception of the iron and non-ferrous foundries, the pattern and woodworking shops, and the Diesel erecting shop, are under one roof.

The boiler shop has a floor area of over 78,000 square feet and is served by sixteen overhead travelling cranes of varying capacities. The locomotive erecting shop covers 29,500 square feet and has two lines of erecting pits which can accommodate eighteen sets of engine frames.

The Diesel section has recently been greatly expanded and a complete new Diesel erecting shop has been constructed since 1946. Both industrial Diesel mechanical shunting locomotives and mechanical parts for the most powerful electric and Diesel electric motive power are produced in this department.

Research activities are centralized in a modern laboratory which contains sections for chemical analysis, mechanical testing, sand testing, radiography, and metallurgy.

The works at Newton-le-Willows employ up to 3,500 operatives and have capacity for the production of four large locomotive engines and tenders per week. In addition the company have, as subsidiaries, the locomotive building firm of Messrs. Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns, Ltd., with works at Darlington and Newcastle upon Tyne.

See Also


Sources of Information