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British Industrial History

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December 1945
December 1945
March 1946.
Sept. 1946.
September 1947
August 1948.
January 1949.
March 1949.
May 1949.
June 1949.
September 1949.
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December 1951.
January 1952.
June 1953.
1953. 275kV Air-Blast Circuit Breaker at West Melton.
June 1955.
Feb 1957.
March 1957.
March 1957.
1966. new plant for the manufacture and testing of high-voltage power cables - Erith, Kent.

of Kent, Erith, Cheshire, Huyton Quarry, Leigh, Melling, Prescot, Lancashire.

British Insulated Callender's Cables (BICC) was a 20th century British cable manufacturer and construction company which originated in two 19th century pioneer electric cable companies - Callenders of Erith, formed in 1882, which later became Callenders Cable and Construction Co, and British Insulated Wire Co, formed in 1890. Now renamed after its former subsidiary Balfour Beatty.

1870 Company founded (according to DnB)

1900 Public company.

1945 British Insulated Callender's Cables was a public company formed by the merger of two long established cable firms, Callender's Cable and Construction Co and British Insulated Cables. Subsidiaries could could trace their roots back to submarine cable manufacturing on the Thames in the 1850s. Sir Alexander Roger was the first Chairman, followed by his financial manager, William McFadzean.

Constituent companies of British Insulated Callender's Cables played significant roles in construction of the British National Grid in the 1930s. Callender's for example constructed the 132kV crossing of the Thames at Dagenham with overhead cables spanning 3060 feet (932m) between two 487ft (148m) towers, and allowing 250ft (76m) clearance for shipping. Companies including Glovers at Trafford Park and Callender's at Erith contributed to manufacturing the Pluto pipeline system. Other companies merged or taken over included Anchor Cable Co of Leigh, and Balfour, Beatty and Co, Civil Engineers [1].

1945 Public company

1949 All construction work was transferred to a new company, British Insulated Callender's Construction Co[2]

1954 Formation of British Insulated Callender's (Submarine Cables) Ltd with W. T. Glover and Co, to specialise in the design and manufacture of submarine power cables[3]

1959 Among the many early cable companies absorbed into British Insulated Callender's Cables was the Greenwich firm Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Co (Telcon), a company which had been formed to lay the first cable across the Atlantic in 1864. In so doing British Insulated Callender's Cables acquired 50% of Submarine Cables Ltd. From that date much of the submarine cable work was undertaken by Submarine Cables Ltd whilst other departments, such as power cables, were absorbed by BICC. Another section which was transferred to Submarine Cables was that which manufactured and installed cable laying equipment on cable ships.

The south side of Glover's Trafford Parks works was integrated into the newly formed Wiring and General Cables Division of British Insulated Callender's Cables.

1960 Subsidiaries Metropolitan Electric Cable and Construction Co and St. Helens Cable and Rubber Co would cease production in order to concentrate manufacture on other sites[4]

By 1960 Telegraph Condenser Co was a subsidiary; the rapid increase in demand for electronic components for radios had benefitted Telegraph Condenser whilst there had been less increase in demand for BICC's heavier types of capacitors[5]

1961 Manufacture and contracting in transmission and distribution of electric energy for power and communication purposes. Manufacturers of power and telephone cables, winding wires, wire mill, capacitors, mineral insulated cables, "Panelac" heating and accessories. 15,000 employees.

1961 Employed 15,000 persons. Main works at Erith, Helsby, Huyton Quarry, Leigh, Melling and Prescot.

1964 Acquired Printers Plates[6]

1966 BICC sold its 50% share of Submarine Cables Ltd to AEI.

1968 Queen's Award to Industry for Export Achievement

1968 Supplied busbar installations for the Winfrith Power Station

1969 Acquired Power Securities Corporation; BICC Construction was to be integrated across the new enlarged group with operating policy vested in Balfour, Beatty and Co[7]

1971 Acquisition of cross-shareholding in General Cable Corporation[8]

1975 The company was renamed BICC Ltd. The operating divisions were

  • BICC Cables Ltd (BICC Cables)
  • BICC Industrial Products Ltd
  • BICC International Ltd
  • Balfour, Beatty and Co Ltd (which became Balfour Beatty Ltd)

By the 1970s the firm had works at Erith, Prescot, Kirkby, Leyton, Helsby, Leigh, Melling, Wrexham, Blackley and Belfast, making electric power cables, telecommunications cables and metals. BICC's (originally Callender's) research and engineering laboratories at a former power station site in White City, London was close to Ormiston House, William Ormiston Callender's house of the 1870s.

1981 Announced it was planning to build a fibre optics manufacturing plant to create 150 jobs at Shotton in North Wales.[9]

1999 the ailing BICC sold its optical cables business to Corning and power cables businesses to General Cable Corporation, which subsequently sold on parts to Pirelli.

Closure of part the Erith works by Pirelli was announced in 2002, with production of oil-filled cable transferred to their Eastleigh works in Hampshire.

Pirelli subsequently sold off their cable operations, now known as Prysmian.

BICC also owned construction company Balfour Beatty; following sale of the cable operations, the remaining company was renamed as Balfour Beatty in 2000.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. BICC - Introduction from Archives Department, National Museums Liverpool
  2. The Times, Jul 01, 1949
  3. The Times, Aug 30, 1954
  4. The Times, May 23, 1960
  5. The Times, May 23, 1960
  6. The Times, Jan 30, 1964
  7. The Times Mar 20, 1969
  8. The Times Jan 15, 1971
  9. The Engineer 1981/05/21