A power station boiler auxiliary motor
control board with individual isolation for each panel.
|The company was founded by Harry Rayner and Jeanne
Liwski in October 1936. They obtained a licence which allowed
them to manufacture switchgear that was designed by La
Telemecanique Electrique, a French company. Harry and Jeanne
obtained premises in Moorfield Road and started with just 6
The high quality switchgear sold well and the company soon opened a new machine shop. The Moorfield
Road works had a number of departments including the Test Dept.,
Sub-Assembly Dept., Sheet Steel Dept., Development Dept.,
Inspection Dept., Stores and the Company Office.
| The switchgear was built to a high standard and
the workforce was proud of the company's products, which
included contactors and automatic electric control gear up to
1,000H.P. This was used to control such things as A.C. motors up
to 5,000 volts, electric furnaces, machine tools and rolling
mills. The number of employees grew rapidly and by 1957 had
reached 600. Many people enjoyed working in the happy family
atmosphere so much that they stayed there for the rest of their
The Main Assembly Bay where control boards
and starting panels are being assembled.
|Sales were good and in order to increase
production more space was required, so in 1959 the company
decided to build a new factory at Leominster in Herefordshire.
Some departments moved to the new works and others such as the
Test Department stayed in Wolverhampton. By this time there was
a large spares market for the company's products, both for
repairs and modifications to existing installations.
In the late 1960s the company produced the Tactorstat logic
controlled, electronic, automatic control gear. This was
extremely reliable, had a long life and operated at high speeds,
because it had no moving parts due to its solid state design.
The system could also operate in locations where the equipment
would be subjected to atmospheric pollution or dust.
The photograph shows a standard 'direct
on' contactor for use in A.C. motor starters.
|| The company's other control gear could operate up
to 6,600 volts A.C. and 650 volts D.C. It was used in iron and
steel works, power stations, rolling mills, mechanised
foundries, sewage works, chemical plants, gas works and cement
In 1969 Contactor Switchgear was taken over by M.T.E. and
the company stopped making its own parts. M.T.E. parts were used
instead. The Leominster factory was closed and 120 people made
redundant. By this time Harry Rayner had died and Jeanne Liwski
was nearing retirement.
The photograph shows the control panel
at Goldthorn Hill Repumping Station that was built by Contactor
An advert from 1948.
||Sales started to fall and in 1974 M.T.E. was taken
over by R.H.P. who made ball bearings. R.H.P. planned to close
the Wolverhampton factory and sell the buildings. Luckily one of
Contactor Switchgear's old customers, Lawrence Scott and
Electromotors stepped in and purchased the company, which saved
The photograph shows part of the
control panels which were built by Contactor Switchgear for use
with a high production grabbing crane at Stewart and Lloyds in
|In 1980 Lawrence Scott and Electromotors became
part of Mining Supplies, who already had a switchgear division.
There were further redundancies and by 1984 the workforce had
fallen to 120. Sales fell and in October 1985 the company
started a three day working week. This continued until the
following February when sales started to pick-up again.
Part of the works at the end of Moorfield
Road. On the right is part of Turners factory.
Courtesy of Jim Boulton.
The end came in July 1986 when Mining Supplies was taken over and it
was announced that Contactor Switchgear would close, on October 31st. It
was a sad end to a company that produced such high quality products.
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