F. H. Lloyd & Company Limited - The 1940s and Early 1950s
During the Second World War, castings were made for tanks, and for bomb casings. By the end of the war James Bridge Steel Works could produce over 26,000 tons of castings a year in 60 different grades of steel.

The apprentice training scheme

In 1943 the company directors approved the introduction of an apprentice training scheme, which began in January 1944. Initially only certain parts of the factory were involved in the scheme, but within a few months all the departments were involved. A carefully planned schedule of work was planned for each apprentice, specifying the different operations to be learnt, and the time that would be spent on each. This ensured that the scheme would ultimately produce skilled moulders, core makers, pattern makers, fettlers, electricians, mechanics and fitters. It was hoped that some of the successful apprentices would eventually become foremen, or senior management.

Talks were held with local schools, and the Ministry of Labour in the hope of attracting what was described as the 'better type of boy'.


Pupils in the Foundry School at work. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

An important feature of the scheme was the method of wage payment to the apprentices. All under eighteens were paid on a special time rate basis. Every four weeks, marks based on timekeeping, general behaviour, progress at work, etc. were awarded to all apprentices. The pay rate depended upon the marks awarded. If anyone persistently failed to achieve the required standard of proficiency, their contract of employment was terminated.

The scheme was divided into two main classes, Craft Apprentices, and Engineering Student Apprentices. Craft Apprentices were trained to become craftsmen in one of the following departments: the Foundry, the Pattern Shop, the Fettling and Finishing Departments, the Maintenance Engineering Department, or the Machine Shops. It was intended that all boys embarking on a craft apprenticeship course would enter the school on joining the company and spend from 6 to 18 months there, before passing to other sections of the factory.


An advert from 1949. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

Engineering Student Apprentices came from technical and secondary schools, usually at 16 years of age, and had to possess at least a School Leaving Certificate. They were trained to become draughtsmen, chemists, time study or planning engineers. To this end a special schedule of training was drawn up covering a wide range of subjects.

Apprentices were encouraged to attend evening classes. All fees and expenses were paid by the company and prizes were presented to successful students at the end of the year.

Records relating to all apprentices were maintained in the Personnel Department, and on completion of the course, all apprentices having achieved marks of 65 percent or higher received a certificate. Those who achieved marks of 85 percent or higher, were classed as being in the honour grade.

In 1946 the company acquired a competitor, Parker Foundry Limited of Derby and doubled production there. Plans were made for the modernisation of the Darlaston works, and for equipping the foundry at Burton for the production of railway castings.


The site of the extension to the Foundry Training School. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The Foundry Training School in 1957. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


At the apprentice prize distribution in 1959, Brian Franks receives the Sportsman of the Year Cup from Mr. M. C. Lloyd. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

At the apprentice prize distribution in 1959, Roy Degville receives the Rosebowl Trophy from Mr. M. C. Lloyd, on behalf of the foundry apprentices. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

First year foundry apprentices and their instructor Jim Platt examine castings produced at the Foundry School in 1961. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

The first of a series of experimental heats is cast at the Foundry School in 1961. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

Young foundry apprentices listen attentively to instructor Geof Burns in 1964 as he describes some of the problems associated with moulding. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


First year foundry apprentices working in the Foundry Training School. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


First year 'off the job' engineering apprentices engaged in sheet metal work and horizontal milling. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


First year machinist and fitting apprentices at work on bench fitting and lathe practice in the Engineering Training School. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


A third year machinist apprentice working on advanced turning practice in the Lathe Section of the Machine Shop. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

Mr. M. C. Lloyd presenting his son Mr. D. C. Lloyd with his apprenticeship certificate on 22nd November, 1967. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

Mr. M. C. Lloyd presenting Mr. G. Mills (Machine Shop) with his apprenticeship certificate on 22nd November, 1967. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

Apprentices receiving their awards in 1973. Left to right: Mick Williams, Peter Jenkins, Robert Lee, Stephen Greaves, Paul Sheppard, Derek Loundes, Dave Nicholls, John Spragg, and Edward Humphries. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

The tiny amounts of carbon in steel have a profound effect on its properties, so much so that it must be controlled to the nearest .02 percent.

In the early days of steel making a furnace man would withdraw a small molten sample from a turbulent bath of white-hot steel, and pour it into a flat mould. After cooling, it would be broken in two with a seven-pound hammer and the bright silver-grey fracture would be examined in the blazing light from the furnace door.

Skilled workers could forecast the carbon content of several tons of molten steel from the closely knit grain of the broken sample.

The method was unreliable, and so in the late 1940s it was just used to obtain a preliminary estimate of carbon content.

The furnace men at F. H. Lloyds now relied on the accurate reading from a carbometer, which provided a rapid method of measuring carbon content, free from the vagaries of human error. Even so, a sample had to be taken from the furnace and used to cast a perfectly sound test piece.

 
Thomas Hale, reading a fracture. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.   V. Blythe casting a carbometer sample. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The Heavy Dressing Department. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The new Wellman crane installed in the the Heavy Dressing Department in 1949. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


A close-up view of the new crane. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


An advert from 1949.

Tapping an electric arc furnace.

From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

An advert from 1950.

From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


Charging an electric furnace with steel scrap. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

An advert from 1950.

From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

An advert from 1950.

From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

 

Removing the oxidising slag in the course of a basic electric heat.

From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

An advert from 1950.

From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

 

Mr. Victor William Bone who was a Director of the company until 1949, and Chairman from 1941 until 1949.

He died on 12th October, 1951 and was buried at Lincoln.

From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

Radio Outside Broadcast

On 9th September, 1952 a BBC radio outside broadcast team came to the James Bridge site to record part of a programme about the manufacturing of Centurion tanks. At the time the turrets were cast at the factory, in one piece, in armour steel. The programme included a section about the heat treatment process, and the quenching necessary to produce a turret from steel with the required strength and toughness.

An interview took place in the Heavy Heat Treatment Department beside the water quenching tank, during which the well known radio presenter Mr. "Jim" Pestridge talked to Mr. F. N. Lloyd, Horace Taylor, supervisor of the Heavy Foundry, and Arthur Reynolds, supervisor of Heavy Heat Treatment Department.


The interview in the Heavy Heat Treatment Department as a turret is quenched. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


Members of the BBC team adjust their equipment. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


Work gets underway on the new bowling green alongside Park Lane in the spring of 1952. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The new bowling green, just after completion. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The new Craven planing machine that was installed in the Machine Shop in 1952. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The new factory road, built in 1952. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


Another view of the new road. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The new electricity sub station built in 1952 that supplied electricity to the whole of the site. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


Some of the electrical equipment in the new sub station. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The Lang lathe that was installed in the Machine Shop in 1952. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


A new 3½ ton electric melting furnace installed in 1952. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The transformer for the new 3½ ton electric melting furnace. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The Amplidyne control gear that controlled the electrodes in the new new 3½ ton electric melting furnace. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The new 96 feet by 70 feet pattern storage barn built in 1952. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The building housing two mould stoves, erected in 1952. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

By 1952 when the company's last open hearth furnace was scrapped, Lloyds had 6 electric arc furnaces with a capacity ranging from 2½ to 12 tons.

The foundry could turn out very large castings, and machine them to individual customer's requirements in an up-to-date machine shop.

Around this time large machines such as tyre presses were produced in the factory.


Mr. A. B. Lloyd (on the left) presents a silver tankard to Robert Thynne.

During the financial year ending on the 31st March, 1952, Lloyds produced more than 23,000 tons of black or un-machined castings, consisting of over 650,000 single castings. Large numbers of machined castings, patterns, and ingots were also were produced.

Some of the largest castings produced were steam chests for the electricity generating industry. They weighed up to 60 tons. Two cranes would be linked together with a lifting beam to take them out of the casting pit. When freshly cast with the pouring heads still attached, they weighed around 70 tons.


An advert from 1952.


 
The advert on the left is worded as follows:
 

The output for steel castings at Lloyds for this year is expected to reach 26,000 tons, an increase of one hundred percent over 1948. Does this large output mean that craftsmanship is being forgotten? On the contrary, it is because of the traditional dexterity of Lloyds craftsmen that this great increase is possible.

Modern machines - and no other steel foundry in Europe is better equipped with them than Lloyds - are certainly speeding the many foundry processes, but it is the craftsmen of Lloyds with their time-honoured knowledge and skill, who wed hand-made perfection to machine-made efficiency.

Patternmakers, moulders, core makers, metal pourers, fettlers, and machinists, craftsmen all, many with 40 years' experience; these are the men whose skill makes steel castings of optimum accuracy, finest finish and exactly to specification.

From the spring 1953 edition of 'The Steel Casting':

The year 1952 showed a marked increase in the number of fires which occurred in the works compared with the previous two years:
1950 - 15, 1951 - 22, 1952 - 26

Fire fighting materials used in the extinction of some of these fires included carbon tetrachloride foam, carbon dioxide, hose branches etc.

After each fire a full survey and inspection was carried out to find the cause whenever possible, so that improvement could be made to eliminate any further outbreaks.

I found that seven fires out of the total number during 1952 should never have happened if precautions had been taken by workmen concerned.

May I advise everyone, whether at home or work, not to take any risks that will start or cause an outbreak of fire.

Fire extinguishers are checked at regular intervals by the Fire Dept., but there are still one or two cases where extinguishers are being used and left empty.

Please inform the fire station or your foreman.

During the past year members of the Brigade carried out drills and maintenance work as well as attending water exercises, lectures and competitions, which had been arranged by the Darlaston and Wednesbury Works Fire Brigades Group.

Special duties covered by the Works Brigade included the gala and sports day and children's Christmas parties.

The F.H.L. Brigade will take part alongside other works brigades in the district during the coming year and some of the items planned are:

Jan. 18th films and quiz
Feb. 8th lecture; "pumps and water"
Mar. 22nd large scale exercise.

Chief Officer J. S. REA, F. H. LIoyd & Co. Ltd. Fire Brigade.

 


An advert from 1953. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


Three members of the four man team competing in the hydrant drill at the sports ground on Sunday 20th September, 1959. Left to right: G. Wilkinson, E. Danks, and W. Langley. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

The F. H. Lloyd Fire Brigade in action during the 21st Annual Fire Brigade Competition that was held at the work's sports ground on Sunday, 8th October, 1972. The event was won by the Rubery Owen team. The four-man F. H. Lloyd team shown in the photograph are left to right: Trevor Baker, Alan Bytheway, Basil Reed, and John Lloyd.


The Machine Shop Heavy Bay during erection in 1954. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The Heavy Bay nearing completion. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

An advert from 1953.

From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The Loudon planing machine that was installed in the Machine Shop in 1954. It was manufactured by the Scottish Machine Tool Company, and had a maximum capacity of 5ft. by 5ft. by 14 ft. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The 182ft. extension to the New Dressing Shop nears completion in 1954. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The completed extension to the New Dressing Shop with its new 5 ton overhead crane. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The new building for the Tumblast Wheelabrator in 1954. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The Tumblast Wheelabrator, the largest in the country. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


Building work starts in 1954 on the extensions to the Core Shop, and the Light Fettling Department. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

Another view of the building work on the extensions to the Core Shop, and the Light Fettling Department. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


Building the extension to the first three bays of the Light Foundry in 1954. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The finished extension to the first three bays of the Light Foundry. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The new road built in 1954 for the factory extensions. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


Another view of the new road. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

 
The 16ft. by 8ft. Mond gas-fired drying stove, installed in 1954. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.  

Another view of the Mond gas-fired drying stove with the double-tier bogey. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


Preparing the ground for the new road/rail weighbridge and the extension to the railway, as seen in 1954. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

The model 70 Speed Muller sand milling plant installed in 1954. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

The number 6 horizontal boring machine manufactured by George Richards Limited that was installed in the Machine Shop in 1954. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

The number 3 horizontal boring machine manufactured by George Richards Limited that was installed in the Machine Shop in 1954. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

An advert from the mid 1950s. Courtesy of Christine and John Ashmore.


Mr. M. C, Lloyd, M.B.E., A.I.Loco.E.

In January 1954 Mr. Michael Charles Lloyd was invited to join the business as Works Director, by his elder brother Francis Nelson Lloyd, Chief Executive. At the time, the factory produced around 30,000 tons of castings a year, with about 2,700 staff.

Casting in the foundry. From a 1954 works photo.

Courtesy of Wendy Marston.


   
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late 1950s