6.  The works under Stewarts and Lloyds, 1920 - 1966

We can interrupt our source here to say something further about this important change in ownership.  Stewarts and Lloyds were a very old company, an amalgamation of a company set up by Samuel and Edward R. Lloyd in Birmingham in 1859; and a company set up by Andrew Stewart in Glasgow in 1861.  By 1920 it had wide interests in iron and steel but mainly concentrated on tube making.  In the early 20th century the company adopted a policy of securing its position by acquiring companies which would enable them to control all of their supplies, manufacture and distribution. 

So Alfred Hickman Ltd was a very suitable acquisition, and with it they got the Hickman owned company Ernest N. Wright  Ltd. of Monmore Green and Millfields.  By the time of the takeover in 1920 Wrights were mainly constructing furnaces for the production of iron and steel and this they continued to do, over an even wide range of furnaces, after the takeover.

A long service certificate.

Fettling an open hearth at Bilston.

(What Stewarts and Lloyds did not acquire was Hickman's Tarmac business which was an independent company.

It is not clear but they probably did not get the basic slag fertilizer business either).

To return to our anonymous source:

"A Morgan Skelp Mill was installed in 1921 for the production of strip for tube making.  A little later the 26‑inch billet and bar mill was modernised to a 28‑inch mill, electrically driven and capable of producing slabs in addition to the billets and bars required for tube making. A feature of this mill was the very good shape of rounds produced which, coupled with the steelmaking techniques employed, enabled bars to be used for tube making in the black‑conditions.  This was the only works that was able to do this on a regular production basis. Whilst this was rightly a matter of great pride to the mill teams, it was, of course, expensive in terms of manpower, but nevertheless justified itself for many years.

"Instrumentation on the Open Hearth Furnace was applied initially in the late 1930s, roof temperatures and chequer temperatures being the first points tackled. With increasing experimentation and sophistication coupled with experience shared with one or two other works, “the clocks” as the furnace men called them, became not only accepted but indispensable.

An early 20th century view of the works.

A view of the works probably in the first half of the 20th century.

The canal remained an important feature of the works which also had an internal railway system.

 "From the employees’ point of view, reference must be made among other things, to the provision of a licensed canteen, along with slipper baths and a swimming bath in 1910.  These were the outward and visible signs of concern for the employees welfare that had existed for many years and included a provident fund and other methods suitable to the age which, the more enlightened employers adopted in those days.

Disputes and strikes did occur, of course, but provision was made for the wives and children of employees on strike to have a plate of soup if they cared to come for it. Many of them did! 

Between the wars under the new ownership, this spirit of inter­dependence was fostered and culminated in 1939 in the opening of the Social Centre, built by the Company towards the furnishings of which the men made a substantial contribution out of their own funds."

Another early 20th century view of the works.

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