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British Industrial History

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Whitehead Iron and Steel Co

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Chesterman folding steel rule marked with name of Whitehead Iron and Steel Co.
Chesterman folding steel rule marked with name of Whitehead Iron and Steel Co.
Dec 1921.

of Tredegar and Courtybella, Newport, Mons. Producers of various rolled steel products, pioneer in the UK of continuous rolling of steel[1].

1903 L. D. Whitehead purchased at scrap value an old mill at Tredegar; early work was re-rolling axles into iron bars[2].

1906 Purchased lease of portion of Tredegar Works and formed the Whitehead Iron and Steel Co.

1906 Imported one of the few continuous rolling mills from Morgan Construction Company of USA in the face of scepticism in the sector which made financing difficult, which started operation in 1907 but there were teething problems which took years to resolve[3].

c.1907 Public company formed[4] formed to acquire the business of L. D. Whitehead and Co, re-rollers of steel[5].

1909 Had run out of money to develop the mill[6].

1910 Continuous rolling mill finally operating successfully[7].

1914 Whitehead Iron and Steel Co considering moving from Tredegar to Newport, where the company had purchased land[8]

1920 New mill installed at Newport[9].

1925 New electro-galvanising process developed and marketed[10].

1925 Customers were slow to accept the advantage of using coils of steel instead of 10 to 20 foot sections; partly as means of increasing usage of Whitehead's mill, installed the first 16 Robertson cold rolling mills. Acquired wire mills of J. C. Hill and Co of Cwmbran; at some point the name was changed to Whitehead, Hill and Co[11].

1930 Second mill announced to be built at Newport[12].

1931 Closure of the older mill at Tredegar.

1933 Established brickworks.

1933 Agreement with Richard Thomas and Co to supply billets from Redbourn works at Scunthorpe to the Newport rolling mills; Mr L D Whitehead to join the Richard Thomas and Co board[13]. Issue of new shares to pay for completing the no.1 semi-continuous mill at Newport and transfer of the semi-continous (finishing) mill from Tredegar to the Redbourn works which will be operated by a company jointly owned with Richard Thomas and Co[14] named Whitehead Thomas Bar and Strip Co[15].

1934 New mill at Newport and the transferred mill at Redbourn brought into operation; redeemed oustanding debentures in Whitehead, Hill and Co; electro-galvanising process was a great success - the company was the only manufacturer[16].

1939 Acquired controlling interest in the engineering and foundry business of W. A. Baker and Co of Westgate Works, Newport; ordered new cold rolling mill[17].

1940 Whitehead Iron and Steel Co acquired half of the shares in Godins Ltd[18].

1946 Plan to add an extra strip mill. Carried out major expansion and refurbishment of W. A. Baker and Co to provide a modern engineering department for Whitehead Iron and Steel Co, replacing the Courtybella engineering works at Newport, as well as to supply iron and brass castings at competitive prices to external customers[19].

1948 Acquired the outstanding shares in Godins Ltd, makers of aluminium sections for prefabricated housing[20].

1951 Nationalised under the Iron and Steel Act; became part of the Iron and Steel Corporation of Great Britain[21]

1955 Iron and Steel Holding and Realisation Agency offered for sale the whole of the share holding in Whitehead Iron and Steel Co[22]; received eager response with all shares sold very quickly unlike some previous offerings.

1957 After several years of closer working with Black-Clawsen of USA, W. A. Baker and Co was acquired by Black-Clawsen International[23].

1962 The British Cabinet decided that Stewarts and Lloyds' attempt to acquire Whitehead Iron and Steel Co (in order to improve integration in the British steel industry) should be prevented and that Richard Thomas and Baldwins should be encouraged to make a competitive offer; recorded as having works in "West Wales and North Lincolnshire"(sic)[24]

1963 Richard Thomas and Baldwins duly made a counter-offer, saying it wanted to protect its market as Whiteheads, an independent reroller, was one of the major customers for slab produced by its new plant at Redbourn[25]. This was seen as a form of re-nationalisation, hence counter to government policy, since Baldwins were the only steel company still owned by the government[26]. Nevertheless Baldwins bid was eventually successful.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 31 July 1940
  2. The Times, 10 August 1949
  3. The Times, 10 August 1949
  4. The Times, 24 August 1948
  5. The Times, 7 February 1955
  6. The Times, 10 August 1949
  7. The Times, 10 August 1949
  8. The Times, 4 February 1914
  9. The Times, 10 January 1930
  10. The Times, 24 August 1948
  11. The Times, 22 May 1935
  12. The Times, 10 January 1930
  13. The Times, 30 March 1933
  14. The Times, 4 October 1933
  15. The Times, 22 May 1935
  16. The Times, 19 June 1935
  17. The Times, 12 June 1939
  18. The Times, 24 May 1955
  19. The Times, 24 August 1946
  20. The Times, 24 August 1948
  21. Hansard 19 February 1951
  22. The Times, 7 February 1955
  23. The Times, 16 May 1957
  24. Cabinet minutes:
  25. The Times, 29 January 1963
  26. The Times, 30 January 1963