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The Reyrolle Story: Twenty-Seven - 'Reyrolle Circuit'

Robert Owen, continuing his history of the huge Tyneside engineering firm Reyrolles, tells of the winning of a contract to supply equipment to one of Britain's biggest power stations.

The 1960s saw an increased involvement from the Government in industry and commerce. One part of its legislation, the 1964 Industrial Training Act, caused a maj or training revolution within the Company. Many large companies, in common with Reyrolle, were criticised by the Engineering Training Board (ETB) for training 'company fitters' as opposed to 'engineering fitters'. (One wonders about what Alphonse Reyrolle would have thought about someone telling him how he should train his workers).

The result was, that in order to get a training grant, after paying their hefty training levy, Reyrolle would have to change their programmes to suit ETB specifications. The Company did more than that by investing in a new quarter of a million pounds Training Centre, designing new programmes for apprentices, clerical and commercial trainees and appointing new instructors. It is also noticeable that the first course for training Foremen also followed in 1966. Sadly, within ten years, trading conditions required a severe re-appraisal of training activities. Drastic reductions were made in recruitment and the expensive Training Centre was closed and eventually sold.

Perhaps more successful was the Apprentice Award Scheme introduced in 1963 in liaison with Hebburn Technical College. An Annual Awards Ceremony was established as a high profile event with a Director presenting prizes. During the mid 1960s, Alan Richardson won "Apprentice of the Year" award twice. The first Industrial Tour, sponsored by the Company for apprentices, took place during the works holiday in 1965. Twenty four apprentices accompanied by Training Officers John Gray and Gordon Urwin visited Holland and Germany. The group called on many places of educational, industrial and cultural interest and was deemed a success by all who attended.

1964 also saw the introduction of a quarterly Company newspaper called 'Reyrolle Circuit'. In its second edition it proudly announced that after 3 years of research and development, the Company had tested its first 400KV circuit breakers. With C.E.G.B. waiting to expand its generating and transmission equipment via its new 400KV network, prospects looked good. This was confirmed two years later when Reyrolle won a major contract to supply 400KV switchgear and associated equipment for the new DRAX Power Station near Selby.


To read earlier chapters of Robert's history please visit

To purchase a copy of his book click on http://www.amazon.co.uk/Reyrolle-Story-History-Co-Ltd/dp/1905295073/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1245678876&sr=1-1


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