« The Proof In Black And White | Main | Do You Read The Obits? »

The Reyrolle Story: Introduction And Prologue

Robert Owen presents an introduction to his history of one of Britain's major engineering firms A Reyrolle & Co Ltd.

At one time this giant Tyneside firm employed 12,000 poeple. Robert trained as an apprentice at Reyrolles.

A Reyrolle & Co. Ltd of Hebburn-on-Tyne designed and manufactured switchgear for the electricity supply industry during the 20th century. At the height of its activity it employed nearly 12,000 workers and exported its products to over 70 countries.

This book attempts to briefly describe its history based on the people who worked there, rather than the technical aspects of its many products. It is born out of two previous publications.

One is the author's autobiography "Two Rooms and a View - Memories of a South Shields Lad", which was published in 2005. This included three chapters on the writer's mixed experiences while working at Reyrolle from 1950-60.

The other is Alan Wright's "Arcs, Sparks and Engineers - A Centenary History of A. Reyrolle & Co. Ltd". Being a failed engineer, my technical knowledge was not sufficient to appreciate this excellent publication. Therefore, when somebody suggested a non-technical history, I was a willing scribe. My greatest problem was what to leave out from 106 years of history. I hope the resultant text brings back pleasant memories to many people who worked for Tyneside's largest employer during the 20th century.


The Reyrolle Company of today still owes an immeasurable debt to those early pioneers and their dedicated band of colleagues - to Alphonse Reyrolle the French expatriate entrepreneur, with his fanatical insistence on high quality workmanship; and to Henry Clothier, the innovator in whose approach to product design, safety to the operator always came first, second and third in his list of priorities.
David Lightle - Reyrolle Technical Director speaking at a Conference on "The Pioneering Work of the Tyneside Electricity Industry" in 1994.


Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.