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KYNOCH WORKS
WITTON, BIRMINGHAM

from  George Kynoch & Co.  to  IMI plc
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A History of the Company
Part 1 - from 1862 until 1960

1834 Birth in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire of George Kynoch.

ca 1856 Kynoch joins Pursall and Phillips of Whittall Street in central Birmingham, manufacturers of percussion caps.

1859 Catastrophic explosion at the company on September 27th, killing 19 of its 70 employees including children, gravely injuring many others, devastating the factory and damaging the surrounding area.

1861 Mr Pursall applies for and is granted permission to build a powder magazine and percussion cap manufactory on a 4 acre site at Witton, a country hamlet in a safer location.

1862 George Kynoch is formally recognised as proprietor. An old shed is trundled on rollers to Witton from the city factory, linked to a new and bigger one (right) and operations start with a staff of one man and 12 girls. This is at a time when significant developments are being made in ammunition technology and especially the development of the Boxer cartridge which comprises a case made of thin coils of brass held together with paper and a brass cap chamber.

1867 Growth has been huge for Kynoch & Co. at the Lion Works, as it is now called. (The factory in this year below).

1870s George Kynoch makes several significant advances in cartridge development which are protected by patent.

1870 Whilst the safety record in percussion cap manufacturing, run by the redoubtable Mrs. McNab, is excellent, that of cartridge manufacture is not. The fourth explosion at the factory in two years is reported, this one on November 17th killing eight and injuring twenty, including children. On December 9th an even more appalling accident occurs in the neighbouring cartridge factory of Ludlow & Co - possibly a Kynoch licensee - when 17 people are killed instantly and 34 more will die later from their injuries; a national outcry ensues.

1872 George Kynoch purchases a further 19 acres of land.

1877 A rolling mill is leased in Water Street, Birmingham.

1882 By this time, after just twenty years, George Kynoch owns the second largest ammunition factory in Great Britain on a site of 24 acres, a brass rolling mill elsewhere in Birmingham, a patent lamp business, and a printing office. Daily cartridge capacity is now 400,000 and there are 800 employees.  He is about to buy a gun factory and he has even bigger plans for the Lion Works factory and also for political and public service - requiring more money and more personal time.

1884 A memorandum of agreement between George Kynoch Esq. and G. Kynoch & Co. is drawn up by which George's interests are effectively bought out. A Board of Directors is appointed and George Kynoch will be Managing Director.

1886 The new structure is not proving a success. The Company is in serious decline. George Kynoch is elected Conservative Member of Parliament for Aston.

1887 Relations between George Kynoch and the Board are at breaking point. Within the factory quality standards have dropped with a corresponding effect on costs and the health of the business as a whole.

1888 The disputes between George Kynoch and the Board come to a head and he is forced to resign. Arthur Chamberlain joins the Board and is appointed Chairman. He will serve for the next 25 years.

1888/9 Two unsuccessful Kynoch enterprises are disposed of, the lamp factory and the gun business. The metal rolling plant in Water Street, owned by George Kynoch, is bought by the Company and an option to purchase is obtained on a larger mill in Lodge Road (left). These moves give the Company security of metal supply and control over quality. Work is started on a new .303 plant, a Q.F. (quick-firing shell) factory and a fuse-making department. Determined measures are taken to improve quality control. 85 acres of extra land at Witton and Streetly are obtained in order to provide improved magazines and adequate proof ranges. Attempts to change the factory name from Lion Works - too closely associated with George Kynoch - to Witton Ammunition Works are however unsuccessful.

1891
George Kynoch dies in self-imposed exile in South Africa.
Meticulous attention to quality within the factory is bringing its own reward in the form of additional Government contracts. The Company is complimented by H.M. Chief Inspector of Explosives on its safety arrangements. In addition to its military ammunition work the Company is producing half a million sporting cartridges a week. Annie Oakley, on tour with Buffalo Bill, pays tribute to them.
The Water Street mill is closed and production concentrated at the developing Lodge Road factory; a cupro-nickel casting shop is built at Witton; and a part-time consulting metallurgist is appointed.
A serious dispute halts production and all 3000 employees join the strike which has started over the alleged malpractice of a foreman in using apprentices to do the work of skilled toolmakers. Despite this the Company is generally recognised as one which pays well and treats its employees in an enlightened manner.

1893-1896
Kynochs enter the field of high explosive production by purchasing a Yorkshire company, Shortridge & Wright. A new factory is built (1895) on a 170 acre site at Arklow on the east coast of Ireland to produce cordite. Very quickly gelignite, dynamite and Kynite will be introduced to the range. And such is the success of this venture that a second factory is soon planned, this time on a 750 acre site in Essex, christened "Kynochtown". Glycerine will also be produced at the Lion Works, together with soap and candles (7- 8 tons of them per week) made from the by-products of glycerine manufacture.

A Siemens-Martin steel melting plant is installed at Witton to supply Birmingham manufacturers with a variety of steel castings and to permit the manufacture of shells of various types including armour-piercing. A new Bullet Shop is created. Witton's first rolling mill is laid down together with a casting shop. Its purpose is to satisfy Lion Works's need for the brass required for ammunition production, leaving the Lodge Road factory to concentrate on trade with third parties. The Company is rolling 100 tons of brass a week. There are also plans for setting up plant to make bicycle components. The Machine Shop is shown right.

1897 The shareholders are warned that the Company will need to raise further capital to finance this rapid rate of development. They willingly comply and a new company is formed, Kynoch Ltd. with a nominal capital of 500,000 and with Chamberlain still its chairman.

1897-1898 A period of further rapid development. At Witton the new bicycle plant is producing 200 sets of components (hubs, pedals and brackets) each week. Large additions are made to the ammunition plants. Lion Works is for the first time equipped to cast and roll all of its cartridge brass. Production of candles reaches 60 tons a week. A Kynoch machine gun is introduced.

The Company's fleet, comprising the Anglesey and the Kynoch ship explosives from the Arklow factory to England. The Essex factory, Kynochtown, has grown to large proportions and incorporates a Company village: a new company, Kynoch Estates Co. Ltd., is formed to administer it.

1899
The Arklow plant is brought to a standstill because Anglesey is marooned behind a wall of silt. This prompts the purchase of a dredger.

Shortage of work leads to temporary shut-downs at Witton of the Cycle Department and brass casting workshop, followed by general short-time working except for the steel, shell, soap and glycerine departments. Outside powder suppliers object to the increasing use by Kynoch of its own smokeless powders in cartridge production on the grounds of unfair competition. Kynoch's response is brutal: henceforth it will only accept orders from its own customers which specify use of Kynoch powder.

The Kynoch Journal is inaugurated - a serious technical journal produced by the Kynoch Press which has at the same time been printing "the scores of millions of sporting cartridges sold".
The outbreak of war in the Transvaal transforms the Company's position and leads to heavy demand for most of its products.

1901-1902 Kynoch acquires various new businesses and premises: the Eyre Street factory of Hadley & Shorthouse, producing nails and brass and copper tubes and wire; a large factory at Stirchley to produce armour-piercing and shrapnel shells; Forward Engineering Company which adds gas engines (left) to the existing engineering portfolio of machine guns and roller bearings; a paper mill in Ireland; and perhaps most significant of all Accles Limited of Holford Works, a run-down ammunition company on an adjoining 33 acre site.

1904 A new office block is opened at Witton (right).

1906 A second Irish paper mill is purchased. Negotiations start on the purchase of a South African explosives factory. A project is launched to establish "a pleasure resort" on Canvey Island complete with pier and promenade.
New plant to make soap is installed at Witton and at Eyre Street to make tintacks. The metric system is introduced into the nine Company factories, not wholly successful as the Chairman is 70 years ahead of his time. A more successful initiative is the establishment of the Research Laboratories (right) comprising two large rooms and two small ones launched with confident expectation of success: "....it is certain that the Kynoch Metallurgical Laboratory, with its motto of 'Thoroughness', has a brilliant future".

1907-1910
The trading results for the 1906 financial year show a big deterioration and those for 1907 reveal an 80% fall in profits from their normal level. No dividend is declared. A debenture stock issue is under-subscribed and the Company is forced into drastic cost cutting measures, including the dismissal of staff. This decline in the Company's affairs is due to the rise in material costs and a reduction in Government orders, due partly to the "cordite scandal" whereby a rejection by the Government of a large consignment of cordite leads the Company to take legal action against its customer. Relationships are soured. The Government refuses to do business with the Arklow plant, now disposed of and renamed Irish Manufacturers Ltd. in an attempt to blur the link with Kynoch, and the new company quickly fails. Cost cutting continues up until 1910: there are protracted shutdowns at Witton and elsewhere. The Endurance Works at Stirchley is sold off and the Company's convalescent home at Llandudno is disposed of.
Despite its large size the new explosives plant in South Africa, built to provide all the Transvaal goldmining groups, cannot cope with the demand and needs extension.

1912 Things are looking better. The turnaround is across all departments. There is a short-lived revival in interest in motorcycle manufacture.

1913 Arthur Chamberlain dies after 25 years of service. He is succeeded by his son, Arthur Chamberlain Junior. The new chairman quickly disposes of the two paper mills and decides to give more attention to metal production. The casting and rolling shops have had long periods of idleness and have in fact not operated since the beginning of 1913. Nevertheless they are restarted and additional rolling plant is installed.

1914-1918 Within weeks of the outbreak of war the Company contracts to make an additional 3 million cartridges a week and progressively increase the weekly output to 7.5 million. As time goes on huge contracts follow for shell cases, detonators, cordite, acetone and other products . At the peak of the war effort 18,000 people are working at Witton. Their typical weekly output will be:
- 25 million rounds of rifle ammunition
- 700,000 rounds of revolver ammunition
- 5 million cartridge clips
- 110,000 cartridge cases for field guns.



 

 

 

 

  



Many of these 18,000 are women, known locally as "Kynoch's Angels".

Pay is good for all. Protection is given by the Company to employees serving in the forces.

H.M. King George V visits Witton on July 23rd 1915.

By the war's end 3.5 billion small arms cartridges will have been produced and there will be a weekly cordite output of 200 tons, a ten-fold increase over the previous level. The Company has to look forward to a post-war period when demand for these products will fall drastically and national capacity will far exceed the business available. The future is one of unavoidable rationalisation, an "explosives merger".

In November 1918 a new company is born, initially named Explosive Trades Ltd. but quickly changed to Nobel Industries. This is a merger of Britain's explosives interests centred on the biggest manufacturer, Nobel Explosives. Kynoch Ltd. is a part of this and finds itself sharing an uncomfortable bed with its former competitors in the fields of explosives (Nobel and Curtis & Harvey), ammunition (Eley) and metal processing (locally, Kings Norton Metal Co. which possesses facilities for brass and copper strip rolling and rod extrusion as well as interests in coin minting and ammunition; and Birmingham Metals and Munitions Co. manufacturing rolled copper and brass and solid-drawn brass cartridge cases). These two companies and Kynoch Ltd. represent "the Birmingham end" of Nobel's interests and are managed by "The Birmingham Committee" chaired by Arthur Chamberlain and his deputy Sir Harry McGowan.

1919-1920
Rationalisation is drastic and painful. Kynochtown and Kynoch-Arklow disappear. The facilities for rolling at Lodge Road and Eyre Street are sold off. Birmingham Metals and Munitions is put into liquidation, with Kynoch taking over part of its Adderly Road site. Extra investment is put into the Witton and Kings Norton mills. Facilities are installed to produce zinc strip as are five electric furnaces for melting brass - a significant pioneering step. Two chain machines are installed and five staff transferred from other duties to start making an interesting novelty invented in the U.S.A., the zip fastener. There is also investment in creating reliable outlets for existing products especially in the promising aircraft and motor sectors: holdings are acquired in John Marston Ltd., Wolverhampton (motorcycles, radiators and radiator tubes), Amac Ltd. of Aston (motorcycle carburettors) and Excelsior Motor Radiator Co. Ltd. of Leeds (aircraft radiators). With the disappearance of its huge explosives and military ammunition business as well as its carefully cultivated image of an influential and distinctive concern, Kynoch Ltd. has changed almost beyond recognition.

1920-1923 Many new products are tried: motor lamps, oil heaters, lanterns, padlocks, mincers, textile bobbins and cycle pumps from compressed paper, two-speed gears, petrol pumps, and home safes, none of which will be successful. Glycerine production is transferred elsewhere in the Nobel Industries organisation and the cycle, soap, candle, gas engine and engineering departments are at a standstill due to the general depression. But the company perseveres despite apathy and suspicion with one new product, the zip fastener.

1922 Staff salaries are cut by 10%.

1923 Arthur Chamberlain resigns as chairman of the local Board and is replaced by Sir Harry McGowan who is also Chairman of Nobel Industries. The South African explosives interests are transferred elsewhere in the Nobel Industries organisation and the Witton activities of soap, candles, cycles and general engineering products are abandoned. The site's activities now comprise effectively "the ammunition side" and "the metals side". Three departments at Kings Norton, especially involving strip, are re-opened to meet increasing demand.

1924 Three more electric melting furnaces are ordered.

1925 Investment is made "to fit up the old Machine Shop at Witton to undertake metallic work for sporting cartridges and metal sundries". Copper consumption soon reaches 400 tons per month. Despite Eley being the senior partner in the area of sporting ammunition within Nobel Industries, Kynoch Ltd. succeed in persuading the Nobel Board to concentrate all production on the Witton site. The transfer of plant and personnel from Eley's Waltham Abbey factory, and the transformation of production facilities at Witton, will be a long and gradual process. The Eley name is preserved by renaming all Nobel sporting ammunition "Eley-Kynoch".

1926 A new company is formed: Lightning Fasteners Ltd., to handle the zip fastener business. Significant investment is made in sporting ammunition facilities and in the mills, especially for rod extrusion. Lightning Fasteners now has a French factory and is considering a German. Amac is merging with two other motor accessory firms to form Amalgamated Carburettors Ltd. (Amal).
In May the General Strike brings all industry to a standstill for nine days.
In December there is a bombshell: the announcement of a merger of Nobel Industries Ltd., Brunner Mond & Co. Ltd., The United Alkali Co. Ltd. and British Dyestuffs Corporation Ltd. The new, and huge, company will be called Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd.

1927 Before the full impact of this merger hits Kynoch Ltd. a far-reaching review is made by Management of metal activities. Plans are laid for a 250,000 reconstruction scheme: yet more money is invested in electric smelting, a new factory for Lightning Fasteners is created on the Witton site (above) and output of extruded rod reaches 3500 tons.

1928 The ICI Board decides that priority is to be given to the development of the metal side of Kynoch's business. Lion Works becomes the headquarters of the Metal Group of Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd. Two further companies join the Metal Group with Kynochs and King's Norton: Elliott's Metal Co. Ltd. of Selly Oak (rolled brass and copper, copper wire and tubes); and British Copper Manufacturers of Swansea (copper refining and processing, wrought metal products, also zinc refining and processing and fertiliser and chemicals production, all at their premises at Landore).

1929 The name of Kynoch Ltd. disappears and is replaced by ICI Metals Ltd. And the Lion Works becomes Kynoch Works. Allen Everitt & Sons of Smethwick (non-ferrous tubes, especially copper-nickel condenser tubes produced in a state-of-the-art factory) also joins the Metals Group. For the second year in succession the Company wins the Senior TT race on the Isle of Man with a little help from Marston's Charlie Dodson and his works "Sunbeam" motorcycle. A Sunbeam is also second and Marston wins the team prize for the third year in succession.

1930-1932 Rationalisation is again inevitable, especially in the face of a deepening slump. King's Norton Metal Co. is put into voluntary liquidation. The business of extrusions, coins and metal sundries, and many personnel with it, are transferred to Witton whilst the Metal Group continues to rent rolling capacity there. All is not gloom despite the grim times and particular success is found in the areas of .22 rimfire ammunition, zinc battery tubes and zip fasteners. The new Witton Strip Mill (right) is completed and opened, for its time a truly revolutionary enterprise. Many new schemes resulting from ICI's enlightened employment policies are put into place.

1933 A worldwide survey on ammunition prospects lead to the opening of a factory in Australia and the establishment of a game research centre in Hampshire. The recently acquired company of Crown Copper Mills (a.k.a. Roberts) of Garston, a rolling mill established in 1880, is closed down.

1934 The Strip Mill is producing 500 tons a month and annual Rod Mill capacity has soared to 14,000 tons. Broughton Copper Co. of Salford whose activities include a wide range of tube production, is purchased. Witton research creates three new copper alloys: Everdur, Kuprodur and Kumanal, perhaps the first examples of the "new metals" which will emerge from the site in the following years.

1935 Witton's own tube mill is commissioned.

1936 After much deliberation a decision is made to establish a pilot scale aluminium plant at King's Norton with a capacity of half a ton per week. A concerted sales drive on the aircraft companies is made. Another Broughton company, John Bibby and Co. of Garston, a rolling mill established in 1865, is closed and production transferred to South Wales.

1936-1939
Throughout this period the lot of employees steadily improves. "Privilege" Saturday morning leave is granted to staff and foremen. Also "marriage is now no bar to employment of women on the works payroll". A 1500-seater Oscott canteen and a dental clinic are opened. Marston's "Sunbeam" motor cycle business is sold (1937). The Board adopts a policy (1937) of containing external sales of several products "so as to clear the way for the Government's defence requirements". The Witton Q.F. (quick firing) shell shop is completely reconstructed. A "shadow factory" is erected on the Landore site for the production of large calibre Q.F. shells. Casting capacity is increased for extruded rod. The filling of flame tracer bullets is mechanised. One shop is extended to absorb the manufacture of steel cores for armour-piercing bullets. Buildings at Holford are re-equipped to make detonators. There is a complete modernisation and reorganisation of metallic ammunition production (1938). The building is sanctioned of a full scale aluminium production unit in the Holford area. Many other measures are taken throughout the Witton site to extend production and make it more efficient and effective. Production support facilities are substantially improved also, with renovated offices, a modernisation of the Power House and the building of a two-storey research block. New factories are built for John Marston and for ammunition production in Eire and South Africa, and new premises are found for Excelsior. Confidential discussions occur between the Company and the Government about future agency factories. In many respects the associated companies within ICI's Metal Group, and especially Kynoch Works, are by 1939 ready for war which finally overtakes them and the country as a whole on 3rd September 1939.
A few weeks later, on October 26th, King George VI visits Witton

1939-1945
Thousands of extra personnel are absorbed, and by 1943 20,000 people are working at Witton. Many perform duties additional to their normal work, such as firewatching, Home Guard, manning of first aid post or ambulance depot and membership of the rescue team or the Red Cross detachment. Young and old serve, women and men. For years, they devote one or two whole nights a week, entirely voluntarily and without pay, over and above their daytime duties. The level of effort, especially after Dunkirk in June 1940, is exhausting. From its eleven factories in 1939, the Company will by 1943 be running 27 factories on 20 separate sites employing 50,000 people. This increase occurs because of the Company's need for extra capacity and also its responsibility for managing Government agency factories with their 15,000 people.

The Company is asked to design, build and operate a new aluminium plant at Waunarlwydd in South Wales. By 1940 it has a new radiator tube factory operational at King's Norton. By 1941 the Ministry of Supply is building two new ammunition factories at Hayes in Middlesex and Summerfield, near Kidderminster; Metal Group will operate both of these. Negotiations are going on to find additional production capacity at John Waddington in Leeds and in several Kidderminster carpet firms. In 1942 the Metal Group assumes responsibility for another radiator tube factory at Burton. Steatite and Porcelain Products of Stourport (ceramic products) is acquired in 1941.
Numerous, often massive extensions are made to existing facilities including no less than three extensions for John Marston which in 1943 is merged with Excelsior to become Marston Excelsior Ltd. Amal is moved into new premises due to fire in December 1943.

The range of different ammunition types produced at Witton is vast, from small arms ammunition to large Q.F. cases, from detonators to anti-tank devices. Throughout the group 67 different types of cartridge are produced. The war work extends of course to all the metal activities and Witton's copper and brass output peaks at 3000 tons per week. Demand for aluminium is insatiable. Outside Witton, Marston, Excelsior and several other factories are wholly devoted to aircraft components. Marston's development of non-metallic, self-sealing aircraft fuel tanks is especially significant. Much of all this work is secret.

Even more secret is the Metal Group's involvement in the "Tube Alloys Project", Britain's atomic energy effort, especially in connection with development of methods of separating the isotope U235 from uranium and of new uranium fabrication techniques.

Luftwaffe bombing raids on Kynoch Works occur since it is of course a large and prime target. Between 1940 and 1943, 47 high explosive bombs fall on the site and more than four thousand incendiaries. Surprisingly, these result in only two fatalities. A memory of at least one attack will survive: the night of 18/19th November 1940 when the Rod Mill is damaged and the test house and the mill office are wrecked. There are anti-aircraft defences in the neighbourhood which guard the factory, including a battery in Perry Barr Park.

By late 1944 ammunition production is running down, the Hayes factory is scheduled to close, the carpet manufacturers will shortly get their factories back and the countrywide payroll falls to 33,000. Working hours have already reduced to more acceptable levels from the earlier peaks, the previous intensity of working and the lack of leisure time having given Management from 1942 onwards increasing concern over the risk to health and sanity. Redundancy and resettlement schemes are in hand. In August 1945 a flag flies over Kynoch Works in tribute to the hundreds of employees still in the Services, the sixty-four who will never return, the seventeen civilians nationally honoured for their services to industry and the 15,000 employees still working on the site.

Shortly afterwards the Metal Group is given a new title: ICI Metals Division. The company named ICI Metals Ltd. ceases to exist.

MORE WW2 KYNOCH WORKS INFORMATION
     Kynoch Works Home Guard - a 1942 report
     Kynoch Works Home Guard - a 1944 image
     Kynoch Works - air raids

1946-1947
The slowing down of demand since 1944 has made the process of adjustment less difficult. Sporting ammunition is rehabilitated. The metal interests will benefit from huge demand as postwar reconstruction gathers pace. Wrought aluminium is needed for prefabricated housing and the Company takes over the Waunarlwydd facility from the Government. Marston starts to produce aluminium furniture and sinks, at the same time developing its welding and brazing skills for this material. The demand for tubes, for housing and marine and power generation condensers soon outstrips the capacity of Witton, Smethwick and Salford. Several expedients are used to meet the demand across the product range: the Ministry's King's Norton factory is used for zinc strip manufacture and later as an overflow for plumbing fittings and radiator tubes; in another unit there brass wire is produced; the Swansea Q.F. factory becomes a Lightning Fasteners offshoot. More permanent plans are laid: the conversion of the Holford aluminium plant to copper sheet and strip production; a major capacity increase in the Rod Mill; and a large scheme to modernise the Witton Strip Mill.

A general shortage of labour is partly offset by the need to absorb, via a careful resettlement programme, employees returning from the Services: in one six month period 1000 people are re-introduced. The Division's payroll levels out at about 17,000.
Welcome innovations are made in employees' conditions of employment. After a year's trial a five day working week is introduced and production shows a slight increase.
The Division's first training school for indentured apprentices is opened. A near-hurricane damages several factory buildings. The Broughton tube works is flooded. The harsh winter of 1946/1947 brings an accelerating fuel crisis which makes life a misery and eventually halts production.

1948 A minimum of two weeks paid holiday is introduced for all employees. Only now does the postwar boom show signs of waning. Major reconstruction plans are laid. Tube making capacity needs to be extended and rationalised. Work begins on the largest and best-equipped tube mill in the country at Kirkby near Liverpool.

1948-1949 Amal moves into a new factory in Holdford Road. Another 47 acres is purchased at Waunarlwydd. ICI's new Creep Test Research Centre is built at Witton. The Board votes a modest sum for research into titanium and its alloys.

The 1950s
This is a decade of progress, innovation and rationalisation, against a background of fluctuating market conditions. Production starts in the new tube mill at Kirkby: the Witton mill closes and Broughton will soon follow. Smethwick concentrates on brass tubes. Extensions to Witton's strip, sheet and rod mills are completed. The Kynoch Press is modernised. Lightning Fasteners opens a new factory at Waunarlwydd. The Company is engaged on secret development work on rocket motor design at Summerfield. At Witton a new multi-storey office block is built, "Beeching's Folly". A new instrument workshop is created. The Power House and Telephone Exchange are refurbished and the main office entrance area, apparently untouched since 1904, is dramatically modernised.

The decade sees the birth of the first of the "new metals", the first new structural metal in Britain for half a century (1955). After much research work at Witton and elsewhere within ICI, the technology of melting titanium is established: a melting plant is built at Witton and fabrication techniques are developed at Kynoch Works and Marston Excelsior, opening up opportunities in the nuclear engineering, chemical plant and other industries. Three years later it is joined by a second new metal, zirconium. Hafnium, niobium, vanadium and, most demanding of all, beryllium which requires a wholly new factory will all follow.

The need for rationalisation in the tube industry becomes apparent and Metals Division joins forces with a former competitor, Yorkshire Copper Works, and forms Yorkshire Imperial Metals Ltd. (1958) which absorbs the businesses at Kirkby, Smethwick, Carolina Port (Dundee) and Landore. Similarly in the aluminium field the Division cooperates with the Aluminium Company of America to form Imperial Aluminium Company Ltd. - Impalco - which will operate as a separate commercial venture (1959). Following the visit to Witton in 1915 by King George V and that of her husband King George VI during the Second World War, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother tours the site in May 1957.

Meanwhile the Company's markets are fluctuating wildly. By 1952 the seller's market has gone, foreign competition is increasing and business is slack. But by 1954 conditions "were never more satisfactory" although this will not last; in 1958 the conditions are "strenuous, uncomfortable and often discouraging".

The 1960s
A decade of increasing independence during which a strategy of vertical integration and horizontal diversification in the product range is adopted.

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v2.1 - 10th April 2008