• 1902

    Baldwins Limited, Neath, acquire several South Wales businesses including Blackwall Galvanized Iron Co.

  • 1904

    Galvanized sheet production by John Summers and Sons doubles to 83,000 tonnes a year.

  • 1905

    Wolverhampton Corrugated Iron Co. re-locates to a new factory at Ellesmere Port.

  • 1909

    John Summers and Sons is now the largest manufacturer of galvanized steel in the country. Annual production is 160,000 tons, there are 3,000 employees and the weekly wage bill is £6,000.

  • 1910

    18 galvanizing pots are now in operation at Hawarden Bridge.

  • 1911

    UK exports of galvanized sheet exceed 600,000 tons.

    National association formed

    A Galvanized Iron Association is formed with Henry Hall (Harry) Summers, a director of John Summers and Sons Limited, Hawarden Bridge Steelworks, Flintshire, as chairman.

  • 1913

    A sheet galvanizing line is installed at Richard Thomas and Company’s Ebbw Vale Works near Tredegar in South Wales.

  • 1914-18

    To meet the wartime demand for black and galvanized sheets, the annual ingot steel make at Hawarden Bridge is increased to 233,000 tons. Thousands of galvanized steel sheets are produced for the trenches on the Western front, for Nissen huts in the UK and for shell making.

  • 1916

    John Summers and Sons acquire Wolverhampton Corrugated Iron Company, Ellesmere Port, and a further twenty sheet rolling mills.

  • 1920

    John Lysaght Limited is taken over by Guest Keen and Nettlefolds (GKN). The acquisition includes Orb Works, Newport, claimed to be “the largest and best equipped in the UK for the manufacture of black and galvanized sheets.”

    John Summers and Sons exports 90 per cent of its output, nearly all galvanized, mainly to India, Africa and South America.

  • 1918-1939

    In the immediate post-war years, John Summers and Sons is a highly successful concern. The workforce at Hawarden Bridge rises to 5,800 and the firm is the second largest producer of steel sheets in the country.

    The period between the two world wars sees considerable change both in the techniques of steelmaking and steel rolling and in world demand. Many countries begin to make their own sheets and there is a gradual decline in UK exports of black and galvanized sheets.

    In America, there are signs that steel is likely to be used more and more, not only for motor car bodies but for domestic appliances and furniture. There is recognition in the UK that, for steel to replace the likes of wood, aluminium and cast iron in the automotive and consumer goods manufacturing processes, there has to be improvements in surface finish and in malleability (deep drawing) to allow the steel to be shaped without detriment.

  • 1928

    UK production of galvanised sheets reaches 889,000 tons.

    With the overseas market for black and galvanized sheets continuing to fall, Summers engage steel sheet production experts from the American Rolling Mills Company (ARMCO) to assist in the installation and operation of new finishing equipment at Hawarden Bridge Works. Improvements in all stages of manufacture, notably the chemical make-up and steel making process and in rolling and finishing, lead to improvements to the deep drawing properties of steel sheets for fabrication. However, the hot rolling processes of the time have limitations and Summers’ directors realise that to produce sheets sufficiently thin, flat throughout their surface, and with maximum manipulative qualities, a cold rolling process is needed.

    Throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s technical managers and directors from Hawarden Bridge Works cross the Atlantic to study developments in hot and cold rolling processes. The association with ARMCO continues until 1935 by which time it is accepted that there is no satisfactory half-way method between the traditional hand rolling technique and the modern continuous strip mill.

  • 1929

    GKN transfers galvanizing operations from the former Lysaght site at Bristol to Orb Works.

  • 1934

    T.C.(Teddy)Tapp and Heath, of British Coated Sheets Limited, London, patent a process for electrocoating steel sheet involving a series of plating baths each containing soluble zinc anodes through which sheets are passed horizontally. Successful trials are undertaken with other metal coatings namely tin, nickel and copper.

  • 1935

    Wolverhampton Corrugated Iron Co. is manufacturing Robertson Protected Metal profiled steel panels for the building industry. The galvanised steel substrate is coated with asphalt, asbestos felt and sealant.

  • 1936

    Richard Thomas & Co install the UK’s first continuous hot strip rolling mill at Ebbw Vale Works. A hot dip galvanizing pot is located after the exit section.

    The line specialises in the production of heavy gauge sheets for galvanizing with zinc coatings up to 600 grammes per square metre compared with the normal 275 gsm. The material is mainly for engineering applications.

    ….and at Hawarden Bridge

    Thirteen galvanizing pots are in operation at Hawarden Bridge Works. The process involves hot rolled steel sheets being delivered by roller tables to two batteries of the Craven-type pickling baths, each having a throughput of 1,500 tons a week. After passing through a wash tank, the pickled sheet is delivered to an inclined table for automatic feeding into the galvanising pot.

    Each pot has a roller train for the discharge of the zinc coated sheet Nos. 1 and 2 pots have a patented multi-roller corrugating machine at the end of the pot train.

  • 1937

    The first continuous coil-to-coil hot dip galvanizing line using a process developed by Polish engineer, T.K. Sendzimir is installed at Hawarden Bridge Works. The process combines the advantages of continuous pre-treatment and annealing with the use of a zinc bath containing aluminium to improve coating adhesion. Control of the thickness of the zinc coating continues to be achieved by a wiping roll arrangement after the zinc bath. No further treatment is needed of the evenly coated zinc coated sheet, which is marketed under the brand name of Galvatite® for uses for everyday articles such as buckets, dustbins and wheelbarrows as well as building cladding. Previously such articles had been made from uncoated steel dipped in zinc after forming, a slow and expensive method of manufacture.

  • 1938

    Dorman Long, Middlesborough, is producing flat and corrugated galvanized roofing sheets.

  • 1939

    Britain’s second continuous hot strip rolling mill, a three-stand 56 in. cold reduction mill and other finishing units are commissioned at Hawarden Bridge Works.

    The introduction of continuous hot rolling brings an increase in the output of high grade sheets with improved surface finish, consistent quality from sheet to sheet, a quick changeover of production from one type of sheet to another and a 25 per cent, saving in scrap.