F. H. Lloyd & Company Limited - The Later Years
 


The company's first computer.

In 1970 an IBM System 360, Model 25 computer was installed at James Bridge Works. The machine, which cost £150,000 helped to rationalise production by monitoring the progress of each order from the initial enquiry to despatch. It also improved production control, and assisted with the provision of management information.

Once it had proved itself, it handled the payroll for most of the group's workforce of 7,000, took over stores control, handled purchases, and provided sales analysis and cost accounting data.

It had a CPU with 24,576 bytes of core storage, three IBM 2311, 7.25 MB hard disc drives, a printer with a keyboard, a line printer, and a card reader. Although very high tech for 1970, it is extremely basic by modern standards.   


Lloyds produced almost an infinite variety of steel castings including the ones above, which were produced in the late 1960s at James Bridge. They were cable glands for the Pierre Laporte parallel-wire suspension bridge at Quebec, the first of its kind in Canada. 174 of them were produced, all with an internal diameter of 24½ inches. The order was valued at £70,000.


A view of the Machine Shop from 1970. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

An important department at James Bridge was the F.H.L. Medical Centre which had extensive facilities to deal with all kinds of injuries sustained in the James Bridge factory. It was also used by some of the local factories, and Wednesbury Technical College, thanks to various agreements.

The centre could cope with a wide range injuries from a piece of grit in the eye, to molten metal burns, welding flash, alkaline burns, lime burns, and acid burns. Every employee had an X-ray on joining the company, and every 12 months had to have a check-up in the medical centre. Weight, height, teeth, and eyesight were checked, and medical records were kept. Inoculations and vaccinations of all kinds were given, particularly to members of staff about to travel abroad on company business.

The centre had its own chiropodist in the form of Joyce Treadwell, and later Miss Kidney. Surgery was carried out on three afternoons each week by Dr. Baker, or Dr. Pollett. There was also a well-equipped physiotherapy room complete with sunray lamps, infra-red lamps, massage equipment, and a variety of home nursing equipment that could be loaned to employees.

Some employees had to wear respirator masks as part of their job. There were four women in the centre who were kept busy cleaning the masks so that a clean supply was always available. There were two masks for each employee, one for wearing, and one for cleaning. Sister Powell was in charge of the centre for around 30 years.


Sister Chin treating a patient in the men's general surgery.

Sister Powell prepares a patient for an X-ray.
Sister Powell applies eye drops to a patient.


Sister Powell with her retirement presents in 1974. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


Casting a 'Supertherm' heat resisting steel alloy tube at Lloyds (Burton) Limited. Part of an order worth £100,000 for a Japanese company.
A new company in the Lloyds group was created on 5th April, 1971 as the result of a merger between two members of the John Bagnall sub-group. It was called Lloyds (Brierley Hill) Limited and came about when The British Tayco Chain Company Limited merged with W. G. Electrical Welding & Engineering Company Limited. Tayco steel chain cable had been made for many years, but production ceased due to lack of demand. The new company would concentrate on the production of 'Blaco' stud steel chain cable, and open link chain, suitable for marine moorings, heavy industrial slings, and railway couplings.


An advert from 1974.


The 500 ton hydraulic press installed at Brierley Hill to produce engine-starter rings for commercial vehicles.
A new plant was installed at Brierley Hill to produce commercial vehicle starter rings.

Around 22,000 rings could be produced per week. 15 percent of them were fully machined, gear cut, and induction hardened.

In 1973 orders included a number of turbine castings for the CEGBs 500MW Ince power station at Ellesmere port. The order for £118,000 of castings included a pair of intermediate pressure outer casings and three pairs of lower pressure casings.

In 1972 the Directors decided to restructure the company to bring about more effective coordination of marketing programmes, production techniques, research technology, and to improve inter-company communications. In order to achieve this the companies were grouped into three divisions; engineering, foundry, and steel. The restructuring was announced in December 1972 by Mr. M. C. Lloyd.


Mr. Michael Charles Lloyd, 1909 to 1973. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

Michael Charles Lloyd – A Tribute. From the 'Steel Casting' February, 1973.

Michael Charles Lloyd was a man whose objective was to serve his community, his business and his industry to the best of his abilities. That he served well will be immediately acknowledged by all who knew him. Such acknowledgement perhaps provides an epitaph which he would have considered fitting.

He succeeded his brother Frank as Chairman of F. H. Lloyd Holdings Limited in 1971. From the date of his appointment he was concerned to reinforce the executive management of the Group and to provide for succession of management against the time, in 1975 when he was due to retire. He relinquished the position of Group Managing Director and set up a Group Executive Committee to undertake the functions of corporate planning, policy initiative and co-ordination of company activities.

Under Mr. Lloyd's Chairmanship, this Committee has made substantial progress in streamlining and re-organising the F. H. Lloyd Group, particularly in re-structuring its 21 operating companies into three main Divisions: Foundry, Steel and Engineering. This restructuring marks a watershed in the development of the Group, and Michael Lloyd's role in bringing it about was central.

His contribution to industry in general and to the steel foundry industry in particular, was considerable. Over the years he held various offices with the Steel Castings Research and Trade Association, was a member of the Council of the Production Engineering Research Association and a member of the Council of the Confederation of British Industry. Appointments of this kind were important to Michael Lloyd only in terms of the contribution he could make: he was never a man to accept a position for the status such acceptance might provide. Where he felt he knew his subject well enough to enter into public debate he did so with a vigour and clarity of expression that made his a voice to be listened to.

His work in this area was recognised in 1960 when he became a Member of the Order of the British Empire, specifically for work on the Midlands Industrial Advisory Committee to the Chairman of NEDDY. At his home in Hilton House, Bridgnorth, Shropshire, he lived a quiet family life with his wife Priscilla Mary, son Dan and daughter Penelope. His other daughter, Charlotte lives in South Africa.

The grounds of Hilton House contain one of the two most important (after his family) of his non-business interests, the Hilton Valley Railway, famous among miniature railway enthusiasts both in this country and abroad. This railway gave, as it continues to give pleasure to thousands of visitors, many of whom were driven by Mr. Lloyd. He was the drive behind the success of the railway and the proceeds of that success were invariably donated to local charities. The railway, however. was a hobby: the part he played as a member of the congregation at Worfield Parish Church was the bedrock of his life. He was organist at the Church for many years, and a good one. It can truly be said that he was a pillar of the church and his community.

Mr. Lloyd was born in Wolverhampton on August 6th 1909. He was educated at Lambrook Preparatory School, at Charterhouse School and at Birmingham University. His life was long and full; his death was tragic and premature.


Members of the first first aid course. Left to right: Lynne Marsh, Buying Dept; Dr. Lester, and Jack Casey, Pattern Shop. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

First Aid Course

After discussions in the Management/Joint Works Committee a first aid course was arranged by the company for employees wishing to qualify for a first aid certificate. Thirty employees started the course on Wednesday, 21st February, 1973, and 23 completed the course and took the examination in April, which they all passed, and received a certificate from the St. John Ambulance Association.

The course consisted of eight, two-hour lectures with two one hour revision sessions. Dr. J. P. Lester gave six lectures on the theory of first aid which included the principles and practice of first aid structure and the functions of the body, resuscitation, shock, injury to bones, poisoning and the nervous system.

There were eight practical sessions given by two of the employees, George Sterry of the Inspection Department and Jack Casey of the pattern shop. George is divisional superintendent of the Coseley and Bilston Brigade and Jack Casey is a qualified instructor. The practical instruction consisted of the method of bandaging various injuries from a fractured spine to minor bleeding, resuscitation, control of bleeding, transporting injured persons, and general welfare of the patient.

The names of first-aiders were posted in each department so that they could be called on in emergencies.


George Sterry, centre, instructing Ken Liddington, left, from the Drawing Office, on resuscitation, with Harry Bowdler looking on. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.
Mr. D. L. Carrier who became Chairman of F. H. Lloyd Holdings Limited after the death of Mr. M. C. Lloyd.

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


A plan of the Wednesbury site in November 1972.

In 1971 a trial order worth £18,000 was placed by Brown Boveri for two turbine castings weighing ten tons each.

The photo on the right shows the turbine pattern being inspected for Brown Boveri.

Inspecting a turbine gear housing produced at Lloyds for 43,000 ton bulk ocean-going carriers that were built in Australia.

The unit would house an epicyclic gear train that carried power from a gas turbine to the propeller.


Tapping a ten ton furnace. Courtesy of Wendy Marston.

Mr. Francis Nelson Lloyd, 1907 to 1974.

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

A tribute to Mr. F .N. Lloyd

Mr. Francis Nelson Lloyd, former Group Chairman and Managing Director, died at his home in Tettenhall, Wolverhampton, after a period of uncertain health, on 27th June, 1974, at the age of 66. He retired at the end of 1971, and so only had a short retirement.

Mr. F. N. Lloyd was born on 13th August, 1907 and educated at Charterhouse, and Trinity College, Oxford. He was a grandson of Francis Henry Lloyd, the founder of the company, which he joined in 1929, becoming a director in September 1931 and Managing Director in November 1941 on the death of Mr. F. J. Hemming. In June 1949 he became Chairman and held that office until he resigned on account of ill-health in September 1970.

At the outbreak of the Second World War he joined the R.A.O.C. but was soon recalled, as his presence at the factory was considered essential to the vital part which FHL played in the country's war effort. Towards the end of the war the company provided the management and technical knowhow to operate the new Ministry Steel Foundry at Burton-on-Trent. Shortly afterwards F. H. Lloyd acquired that Foundry and formed it into Lloyds (Burton) Limited, the firm’s first subsidiary company and the beginning of the F. H. Lloyd Group.

In addition to his involvement with the Lloyd Group, Mr. Lloyd was a director of N. Hingley & Sons from June 1953 and became chairman of that Group in January 1959. He was instrumental in the merging of the Lloyd and Hingley Groups in July 1966. He was a director of Lloyds Bank from 1956 and also served on its Birmingham Committee. He was also a member of the Management Board of the West Midlands Engineering Employers' Association from 1941 until 1971 being President in 1964 and 1965.

Throughout his career Mr. Lloyd was a leading member of the Steel Founding Industry and its representative associations. He became associated with the General Steel Casting Association in the late 1930s when he served on its Council and was a member of the Townsend Committee. He became a member of the Council of the British Steel Founders' Association on the formation of that body, and held office virtually without interruption until the B.S.F.A. was wound up in 1967 becoming chairman of the Steel Castings Association on its formation in that year. Mr. Lloyd was the first chairman of the British Steel Castings Research Association in 1953 and was largely responsible for effecting the merger of B.S.C.R.A. with S.C.A. in 1968 when S.C.R.A.T.A. was formed, and again he became its first chairman.

He was awarded the CBE in 1970 for his services to exports. More recently, in 1973, he was honoured by the foundry industry when he was awarded the E. J. Fox medal by the Institute of British Foundrymen.

 
In 1975 the Severn Trent River Authority decided to carry out work on the nearby River Tame which had long been known for flooding, particularly at the Railway Tavern pub which was sometimes three feet deep in water. The river was used by F. H. Lloyd as a source of water for the cooling and process plant. The work involved straightening the river and deepening the river bed. The company decided to to carry out some work on the river while the alterations were taking place. A large diameter pipe was installed from the river to the work's pumping plant to ensure an adequate supply of water. When the work was completed, the river was expected to flood only once every fifty years. The photographs show the river before and after the work had been completed.

Teeming a multi-ladle job in the Heavy Foundry, the largest foundry bay in the country. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

One of the latest type of squeeze-jolt moulding machines at work in the foundry. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.
The FHL switchboard ladies, Dot Davies and Ruby Johnson.

Dot joined the firm in 1959, and Ruby joined in 1972.

In 1974 they moved into a new a new switchboard room containing some of the latest equipment. Every year they handled about 200,000 incoming and outgoing calls.

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


F. H. Lloyd undertook an unusual and interesting casting job in 1975 for R.A.E. Farnborough. It involved the production and machining of two large castings for a low speed wind tunnel. The two castings, one 22 ft. long, the other 10 ft. long, formed a massive arc upon which the model aircraft could be mounted within the tunnel.
The exploration for North Sea oil involved the building of large oil rigs, each with 27 wellhead assemblies, all needing large valve castings. Each assembly was 17 ft. high and had three heads, all of which had to be cast and machined.

In 1975 F. H. Lloyd received an order for castings for 54 wellhead assemblies for use in the Forties Field, consisting of nearly 180 tons of castings.

 


F. H. Lloyds received many orders from the North Sea Oil companies including the breach locks that locked together the 70 ft. sections to form the oil platform legs. The photograph above shows the final inspection of a breach block connector and chaser head by the Chief Inspector of McEvoy Oilfield Equipment Limited. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


A large valve body casting after being 'knocked-out' from the mould. Courtesy of Wendy Marston.


Valve castings for the oil industry being machined. Courtesy of Wendy Marston.

One of the North Sea oil field valve arrangements being assembled.

Courtesy of Wendy Marston.


Some of the castings for excavators that were produced at James Bridge for Ruston-Bucyrus Limited, one of Lloyd's largest customers. Courtesy of Wendy Marston.


Hard at work on a multi-ladle casting job in the foundry. Courtesy of Wendy Marston.


A giant mould for a Dinorwic Casting.

F. H. Lloyd supplied many huge castings for electricity power stations throughout the world, and made it possible to build some of the largest power generation units.

One project that relied heavily on Lloyd's castings was the building of Dinorwic Power Station in North Wales.


The top half of a GEC 50MW gas turbine main casing. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


A patternmaker at work on the corebox for a stayring for Dinorwic Power Station.


One of the eight massive pivot bearing castings that were produced by Lloyds for the Thames Barrier, each weighing nearly 54 tons, with a diameter of 16 feet. The company produced many castings for the project including the steel barriers which alone amounted to castings of over 1,000 tons.


The construction of the Thames Barrier gets underway. Courtesy of Wendy Marston.


This 71,400 ton rubber die press built by John Shaw & Sons (Salford) Limited, included three large castings for the main press head and three cylinder base castings, all of which were produced by F. H. Lloyd. In total the castings weighed 61½ tons.
A gigantic gear wheel cast by Lloyds for a cement plant ball mill in Brazil. It had a diameter of 18 feet and a depth of 2 ft. 6 inches. It weighed 32 tons.
Producing the mould for one of a series of castings made for Canadian power stations. In the mid 1970s, Lloyds received orders for over 890 tons of such castings from Canada.

Similar castings were made for power stations in New Zealand, South Africa, and India.


The largest cast steel ring made at James Bridge, left the factory in 1975 to make its way to Stockton-on-Tees. It was over 18 feet in diameter, weighed over 20 tons, and was carried on a special tilting trailer, designed for the purpose. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.
Lloyds were a major supplier of steel castings to the large armaments industry, including over one thousand castings for Chieftain tank turrets. Another, and very different product produced by the Lloyd Group was cast steel chain for giant draglines using a specially developed system of patternmaking, which resulted in interlocking moulds. The steel could be poured virtually simultaneously for each link so that the whole length of chain is cast from the same ladle of molten steel. Lloyds were one of only a handful of manufacturers in the world, capable of producing chain of such a high quality.

Preparing a mould for a tyre for a cement kiln, for Head Wrightson Limited, Stockton-on-Tees. Four tyres were produced and fully machined, along with one bevel, three straight sides. Each tyre casting weighed over 96 tons.
Part of the Drax 'B' power station built by C. A. Parsons Limited, Newcastle-on-Tyne.

F. H. Lloyd produced the low pressure castings for thee such turbines, six for each machine. The total weight of six castings was 214 tons.

In 1976 Mr. D. C. Lloyd became Sales Manager at F. H. Lloyd & Company Limited. His responsibilities included developing the ever important export market.

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


The team in the Sales Office. Left to right: Terry Gaden, Keith Lort. and Dan Lloyd. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

In 1977 a reorganisation scheme began at James Bridge to create larger production areas, improve the overall efficiency of the plant, and provide better working conditions. Improvements were made to the Sand Preparation Plants, and a new sand slinger rollover circuit was introduced in the Heavy Foundry.

A new melting plant with a £250,000 electric furnace was installed, and the Pattern Shop was moved to Keay's old building in Station Street. In order to ease the movement of patterns from the new stores to the main foundry area, the old railway line which ran under the Walsall Road was converted into a private roadway. The old Pattern Shop became an additional fettling area providing an additional 24,000 sq. ft. to the existing facility. Similarly the Scrap Stores was moved from the Heavy Foundry Bay to increase the working area.


The new melting plant. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The company's stand at the Offshore International Exhibition. Lloyds hoped to increase the number of ever-important orders for castings from the offshore oil industry. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.

The new Managing Director of F. H. Lloyd & Company Limited, appointed in 1977 was Allan Harris who had joined the company as an apprentice in 1953. From 'The Steel Casting', courtesy of Wendy Marston.


The pattern shop.

F. H. Lloyd & Company had the largest steel foundry
business in Europe, but it fell into a severe decline in the 1980s, which resulted in the closure of the Wednesbury foundry in 1982.

The Parker Foundry Limited at Derby survived until 1987 leaving Lloyds (Burton) Limited as the sole survivor.

 

Shortly before the closure of The Parker Foundry Limited, F. H. Lloyd was acquired by Triplex plc to form Triplex Lloyd plc.

Although Lloyds (Burton) Limited was trading profitably, it became irrelevant to Triplex Lloyd which had other plans for the future. It was sold in 1989 to William Cook plc. At the time it was the second largest producer of steel castings in the country.


Using the hydroblast system to clean steel castings.

F. H. Lloyd Holdings Limited became part of United Engineering Steels Limited, and the James Bridge site became F. H. Lloyd Engineering Steels Limited, producing a range of cast and rolled billets for other companies in the group. In the 1989 Annual Report, the Directors of United Engineering Steels Limited announced the closure of the James Bridge site and the relocation of its activities to the company's plants in South Yorkshire.

This must have come a terrible shock to the loyal James Bridge workforce, who had worked hard and achieved so much for the company. This was a sad loss for the steel industry, particularly in the West Midlands.


A final view of the James Bridge factory, seen from across the motorway. Courtesy of Wendy Marston.


 

 

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