John Summers Steel Works

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Location: Hawarden Bridge, Century Way, Sealand, Flintshire, Wales, United Kingdommap
Surnames/tags: Skehan Taylor Wales
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John Summers Steel Works

The founder,John Summers, was born in Bolton, Lancashire in 1822. While working as a clogger, he visited the Great Exhibition in 1851, where he bought a nail making machine, and commenced making nails with which to fasten the iron strips on to the soles of clogs. [1]

Beginning in Stalybridge-The Globe Iron Works

In 1852, Summers moved into Sandy Bank Iron Forge at Stalybridge, where he successfully concentrated on the production of clog irons and nails. He then purchased land at Bayley Fields near the forge, and built a new ironworks, known as the Globe Iron Works, with 12 puddling furnaces and rolling mills, and had a rail connection with its own locomotive.[2]

The Move to Shotton, Flintshire, Wales- Hawarden Bridge Steelworks

John Summers died on 10 April 1876, at the age of 54. Three of his sons, James, John and Alfred, carried on the business, and they were joined by another brother, Henry Hall Summers in 1869. Space for expansion at the Globe Works having been exhausted, the firm opened the Hawarden Bridge Steelworks at Shotton in 1896.[3]

John Summers & Sons LTD

In 1898 the firm became a Private Limited Company and in 1908, on completion of new offices, which are in Sealand , the headquarters were transferred to Deeside. Steel had initially been imported to Shotton from the USA, to be rolled into sheet. However, in 1902 they began to make their own steel at Shotton, starting with nine 50-ton open hearth furnaces in No. 1 Steelworks. By 1909 the company was the largest manufacturer of galvanized steel in the country, and probably the largest manufacturer of steel nail strips and sheets. However, it was not until 1917 that all the steel was produced in-house, with the opening of No.2 Steelworks and bar mill. In 1919 the Wolverhampton Corrugated Iron Company at Ellesmere Port was taken over. John Summers & Sons also bought the Castle Fire Brick company in Buckley and the next year took over the Shelton Iron, Steel & Coal Co, Stoke-on-Trent. This company was Shotton's supplier of pig iron, a very scarce item at the time and this acquisition meant that the company had become very largely self-contained and self-sufficient. James and Frank Summers were in charge, John and Harry remaining at Stalybridge. However, Harry visited Shotton regularly, and became dissatisfied, considering that James and Frank and the senior managers were not devoting sufficient time to the business. By 1908 Shotton had outgrown the Stalybridge works, and the headquarters was moved there. Harry was put in charge, and removed the under-performing managers. He became chairman in 1913, following the death of James.

Steel had initially been imported to Shotton from the USA, to be rolled into sheet. However, in 1902 they began to make their own steel at Shotton, starting with nine 50-ton open hearth furnaces in No. 1 Steelworks nine 50 ton furnaces. However, it was not until 1917 that all the steel was produced in-house, with the opening of No.2 Steelworks and bar mill.

In 1917 Summers acquired the Wolverhampton Corrugated Iron Co at nearby Ellesmere Port. In 1920 they bought the Shelton Iron and Steel Co and its collieries. The rolling mills at Globe Iron Works were closed down in 1929. The Great Depression also brought massive job losses at Shotton.

Major investment was undertaken in the mid 1930s, with the introduction of the first Sendzimir mill in Britain. Britain's first continuous hot-dipped galvanizing line opened in 1937. Also in 1937, it was decided to install a continuous strip mill, and Summers consulted Lorenz Iversen, President of the Mesta Machine Co of Pittsburgh. Additional capital was obtained by taking in the United Steel Company and the Bank of England as partners. Over 7000 tons of machinery was imported from the USA in 1939. The first slab was rolled on 9 November 1939.[4]

Production of WWII Anderson Shelters

Anderson shelters were designed to accommodate up to six people. The main principle of protection was based on curved and straight galvanized corrugated steel panels. Six curved panels were bolted together at the top, so forming the main body of the shelter, three straight sheets on either side, and two more straight panels were fixed to each end, one containing the door—a total of fourteen panels. The shelters were 6 feet (1.8 m) high, 4.5 feet (1.4 m) wide, and 6.5 feet (2.0 m) long. They were either buried 4 ft (1.2 m) deep in the soil and then covered with a minimum of 15 inches (38 cm) of soil above the roof or in some cases installed inside people's houses and covered with sandbags.

Anderson shelters were issued free to all householders who earned less than £5 a week (equivalent to £320 in 2020, when adjusted for inflation). Those with a higher income were charged £7 (£440 in 2020) for their shelter. One and a half million shelters of this type were distributed between February 1939 and the outbreak of war. During the war a further 2.1 million were erected.[17] Large numbers were manufactured at John Summers & Sons ironworks at Shotton on Deeside with production peaking at 50,000 units per week. [5]

1950's to Present

John Summers & Sons Ltd was nationalized in 1951, becoming part of the Iron and Steel Corporation of Great Britain. It was then denationalized shortly afterwards, and renationalized in 1967, when the company was absorbed into British Steel. British Steel became Corus in 1999 and this company was taken over by Tata Steel in 2007. The development of this steelworks on the banks of the River Dee changed an area that was once mainly marshland, with Shotton - just across the Dee - previously little more than a hamlet. Shotton Steelworks led to the development of whole communities to house the influx of workers, estimated up to 13,000 at the height of the industry with Shotton and Connah's Quay Jetty hubs of activity serving the steelworks. [6]

The Workers

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Housing the Workers

With the opening of the steelworks in 1910, a new housing estate was built at Garden City and finished in 1915. Another small estate was built at Sealand Manor known as the Welsh Land Settlement in 1937. Redundant coal miners and their families from the Rhondda took the courageous decision to move 150 miles north during the depression of the 1930's from coal mining to working on the land at Sealand Manor. Additional Council housing was built at Sealand Manor in the 1960s. Additional council houses was built in Garden City in 1954 and in the 1960s. With additional private housing built in the 1970s.[7]

Video of the Plant in 1953:

One of the first Royal duties carried out by Prince Philip, was on April 29,1953 when he officially opened the first phase of major plant developments at Hawarden Bridge Steelworks. This video was taken during a tour of the Steel Works by the Duke of Edinburgh. There are many employees included in this video, as all the employees were invited to observe the tour. There are views of some of the women in office staff standing on the gangways along the wall. Please! If you think your loved ones worked here in 1953 and/or you spot them in the video, let me know if you would like to add them to Wikitree! I will be happy to help you!

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posted by Stuart Awbrey
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posted by Stuart Awbrey
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