The Foundry by Alan Swinburne

 The new Foundry was put into production in July 1959.replacing the old Crookhall Foundry,and was situated at the south end of the old Plate Mill on a site previously occupied by the Soaking Pits for the old Cogging Mill.

It was built to supply the increasing demand for castings by the expanding  Open Hearth Steel Plant.  The metal ,mostly grey iron,was produced in two 15 tons/hour Cupola furnaces which worked in a similar way to a Blast Furnace,but using Pig Iron instead of Ore in the charge. 

The Heavy Bay manufactured Pallet Plates also known as Bottom Plates ranging from 8 tons to 12 tons.

These were used in the Steel Plant as a foundation for the Ingot Mould to be placed on before teeming.In addition to Pallet Plates and Ingot moulds the foundry cast ladles for use in the Blast Furnaces and Steelplant weighing up to 13 tons.

The Light Bay produced Jobbing castings in weights of 1lb to 5 tons for maintenance of all departments within the Steelworks.It was also a good place to get your replacement fire grid for your home fire made!!!.

The foundry also had a small non-ferrous department where castings of up to 500lbs were made.

The foundry operated on a day shift bases and my main duties were temperature measurement during tapping the furnaces and teeming the castings,checking of incoming materials including sand and non ferrous metals along with general Quality Control of finished products. 

Although I enjoyed all my training,my time at the Foundry was one the best placements I had,so much so that when I was transferred to the Plate Mill against my wishes I applied for and got a job at British Leyland Foundry in Coventry,but due to an industrial dispute at BL the job was put on hold and when I was reoffered the job ,circumstances had changed(something to do with  with a member of the opposite sex !) and I stayed at Consett. ot a bad decision as it turned out!!!.

The Foundry was like a large family,almost separate from the main works,were everybody looked after you,but that didn,t stop pranks being played.

On one occasion I was working a Saturday shift overseeing the production of SG Iron in the non ferrous shop.In the break between casts I disappeared to the local betting shop to watch the Grand National promising to be back in time to add the required addition to the next cast.

Unfortunately I was late back and one of the Furnancemen had done my job for me,but found my protective clothing had disappeared.When I enquired where it was,they pointed upwards,and there was my gear on the hook of the “high flyer “crane. It was a strenuous and precarious climb up the vertical ladder to retrieve them – – LESSON LEARNT!!! 


Also you were given responsibility and confidence to deal with senior managerment at a fairly young age.I was sent to present a cost saving report I had produced to Bill Hume ,a senior manager whose office was on the upstairs in the General Offices,I had hardly been in the offices never mind upstairs and found it a daunting experience,so much so that I tapped on his office door which was inches thick and when no one answered  I  returned very quickly to the Foundry telling my boss he wasn’t in.

A quick phone call confirmed  he was in,and I was sent back and told to knock hard this time.I presented my report,Bill thanked me and assured me my recommendations would be implemented.

On return to the Foundry I was told never to  worry about meeting Senior Managers,just remember they were once young nervous employees in their early career,something I  remembered for  the rest of my career.

Some years later I met Bill Hume socially and he asked me if I was still working at the Foundry,he probably remembered more about short meeting than I had!!!.


Just a couple of lifes lessons I learnt which helped me in the following years both pre and post closure.

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