« Remember? | Main | A Closed Case »

The Reyrolle Story: 48 - A Major Decision

The end now seems to be in sight for the giant Tyneside manufacturing firm, Reyrolle.

Robert Owen continues his history of a once-proud industrial concern.

To purchase a copy of Robert's excellent book 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

In September 1985 the Gazette headline read; " Gloom at Reyrolle" as 77 workers were declared redundant. The Company would not comment on its future but Joe Kidd - the Works Convener - voiced his fears. "We have seen the numbers on this site go down from 5,000 to about 2,000 during the last few years" remarked the angry trade union leader.

"The fear we have now is that you can only go do down so far, then comes a point where you say is the place going to survive? We have been asking management but we get no replies. NEI are reporting profits but job losses like these should not go in line with profit" - he continued.

Don Dixon, the local MP, also expressed his concern, and Hebburn Councillor Jennie Shearan said;" You think about what has happened in the shipyards and then you get this, it is disastrous - not only for Reyrolle but for the whole community."

Fortunately, the worst did not happen, but in 1986 half the technical staff in the laboratories lost their jobs. This stimulated some sharp criticism of the white collar union TASS by the redundant technicians. A headline in the local paper read; "Union to blame for job losses - men claim". Derek Holtham who had worked in the laboratories for 33 years said of TASS; "They are really apathetic. They have complete lack of interest, the only interest they show is when we are on the dole and then moan about it."

The paper reported that the former TASS Convener Bill Griffiths could not comment because he was no longer recognised by his Union.

By the winter of 1986, with over three million unemployed and inflation higher than ever, NEI Reyrolle were running out of orders. The Board of Directors made a major decision that, if by March 1987 there was no improvement, the Power side of the business would be closed. Also they let it be known that the major research facilities, including the 1954 Test Station and the Clothier Laboratory were on a list of further possible closures.

In an attempt to seek greater efficiency NEI Reyrolle Installation Unit, formerly attached to Power Switchgear, became a separate trading unit directly responsible to NEI Reyrolle Ltd.

The 1980s were undoubtedly the lowest in the long history of the former Reyrolle Company. Nationally, with the growing service economy replacing the old manufacturing and extractive industries, it remained to be seen if the management had done enough to save Alphonse Reyrolle's one time business from complete oblivion.


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