Welsh Labs, Part 1


It’s been surprisingly difficult to find any information on Welsh Labs on the internet. When I joined Tinplate R&D the place was busy and bustling, and remained that way even when some of the labs people went to work on plant as the PEGS team, which happened more or less at the same time as the lesser building was being pulled down. Over time it became more and more the hub for people doing the EngDoc scheme and the people supervising them and their projects.

Tinplate R&D originally had some offices in the lesser building, but once that building had disappeared, those people (including myself) took up residence in the A-wing, which was at the front of the main building. We had our chemistry team and our mechanical testing equipment in E-wing, and the all our can making and testing facilities in the PACS Centre, the latter being one of the two buildings still in existence and occupied (the other one was Strip UK’s Engineering facility where they had amongst other things some giant presses for the automotive industry). That was the situation when I left Tinplate R&D for Ebbw Vale.

Then came the merger with Hoogovens, and the first thing that happened was that a new structure was adopted which first of all meant that Tinplate R&D now became part of the overall Corus R&D effort instead of being a satellite to British Steel Tinplate, and secondly it meant there was no longer a position for me and my secondment in Ebbw Vale became an actual appointment (see The Temporary Permanent).

I somehow lost track of what happened in Welsh Labs, since my placements in Ebbw Vale and later Ebbw Vale did not leave any opportunity to see firsthand what was going on. All I know is that once I had returned to Port Talbot, the Welsh Labs site had been passed on to the Welsh Development Agency, although we still rented some space for a small number of people who were based there. The corner of the Engineering building, where some of the offices were, became the visitor centre for Strip Products UK until the newer visitor centre was built near the relief dual carriage way.

Space in both the Engineering building and the main building was being rented out to other businesses (for a while the Welding Institute was making use of the Engineering building, and Tony Franks had his own rebar consulting and testing facility there, supported by a few other people who he had rescued from the wreckage of Allied Steel & Wire’s collapse). At times, we still had use of the conference room in the main building, where I gave my one and only talk to the local branch of the British Computing Society on “Data you can trust”.

But in the end the curtains came down when the dual carriage relief road (Harbour Way) was being built. All that’s left now is the PACS Centre, the Engineering building, and what used to a storage space attached to the main building.

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