« Spaced Out | Main | Help From The Lunch Buddy »

The Reyrolle Story: 41 – One Of The Finest Research Laboratories

The trading tide begins to turn against the huge Tyneside engineering firm Reyrolle.

To purchase a copy of The Reyrolle Story, Robert Owen’s history of the firm, please visit 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

On the technical side 1970 was marked by the official opening of Reyrolle's new ultra high voltage laboratory. Capable of testing equipment to extremely high voltages the laboratory was appropriately named after Henry Clothier and opened by the Rt' Hon. Tony Benn M.P. - the then Minister of Technology. Later, at a Press Conference, he described the new laboratory as "One of the finest research laboratories to be found anywhere. Reyrolle is going to be a centre of pilgrimage as people come from all over the world to see it!" He was right - technical experts flocked to see the new test facility during the coming months.

Another major development was the commissioning of the UK's fist 300KV Gas Insulated Substation at C.E.G.B's Neepsend Power Station. Although Reyrolle was responsible for the overall design of the switchgear, the sad aspect was that the equipment was not of Reyrolle's manufacture. Decades earlier, and for a variety of reasons, the Company's Extra High Voltage development programme followed the traditional high air pressure route. Other competitors successfully experimented using sulphur hexafluoride gas. The resultant gas revolution in switchgear design left Reyrolle technically about ten years behind its major competitors.

About the same time, Reyrolle-Parsons sent two of its senior engineers on a long overseas mission. Frank Krause (Parsons) and Sam Fay (Reyrolle) travelled 35,000 miles and visited 20 important customers while carrying out an evaluation of the Company's marketing and potential manufacturing organisations. They reported back that "the competition is hard but the markets are definitely there." This was confirmed a few years later when new factories were opened in Hong Kong and Singapore.

So ended a troublesome few years for Reyrolle. After fifty years of steady growth, many workers wondered what caused the "tide to turn" against the Company. Some thought it was complacency because of its size; others argued it was changing market conditions over which the Company had little control. Whatever the cause, what everyone wanted to know was "Were the troubled years over?" The following years would answer that question.


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