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nickweb 11-08-2010 23:20

John Summers & Sons, Deeside, Aug 2010
John Summers & Sons Offices, Deeside, North Wales

Quite a bit of interesting history about this place.

John Summers & Sons Ltd was a major United Kingdom iron and steel producer, latterly based at Shotton, Flintshire. The company was absorbed into British Steel in 1967; British Steel became Corus in 1999 and this company was taken over by Tata Steel in 2007.

The founder, John Summers, was born in Bolton, Lancashire in 1822. While working as a clogger, he visited the Great Exhibition in 1851, where he bought a nail making machine, and commenced making nails with which to fasten the iron strips on to the soles of clogs. In 1852, Summers moved into Sandy Bank Iron Forge at Stalybridge, where he successfully concentrated on the production of clog irons and nails. He then purchased land near the forge, and built a new ironworks, known as the Globe Works.

John Summers died on 10 April 1876, at the age of 54. Three of his sons, James, John and Alfred, carried on the business, and they were joined by another brother, Henry Hall Summers in 1869. Space for expansion at the Globe Works having been exhausted, the firm opened the Hawarden Bridge Steelworks at Shotton in 1896.

In 1898 the firm became a Private Limited Company and in 1908, on completion of new offices, the headquarters were transferred to Shotton. By 1909 the company was the largest manufacturer of galvanized steel in the country, and probably the largest manufacturer of steel nail strips and sheets.

In 1919 the Wolverhampton Corrugated Iron Company at Ellesmere Port was taken over. John Summers & Sons also bought the Castle Fire Brick company in Buckley and the next year took over the Shelton Iron, Steel and Coal Company of Stoke-on-Trent. This company was Shotton's supplier of pig iron, a very scarce item at the time and this acquisition meant that the company had become very largely self-contained and self-sufficient.

John Summers & Sons Ltd was nationalised in 1951, becoming part of the Iron and Steel Corporation of Great Britain, was denationalised shortly afterwards, and renationalised in 1967.

The John Summers & Sons plant also had its own shipping wharf, complete with a fleet of ships.

The fleet was known locally as the "Beetle Fleet" and in 1918 it consisted of 19 ships. The first two ships purchased were "Buffalo" and "Rio Formosa," both steamers, in 1897.

In 1935 one of the Summers' ships, "Maurita," was sold to a firm in Lancaster but, coincidentally, during the war, she sank only a few miles away from her former home. She hit a mine in the Dee estuary with the loss of all hands.

Many of the Summers' fleet were commandeered by the Government during World War 2 for use as petrol carriers. The airforce took one for use as a bouy-boat and the navy took two. "Stalybridge" and "Hawarden Bridge" were fitted out with guns at Liverpool in readiness for the Normandy landings.

"Hawarden Bridge" had an interesting history. It was the first ship to enter Dunkirk Harbour after the liberation of the town. After returning to duties on the River Dee, she was sold to a Barbados company in 1967. Eleven years later she was found abandoned and adrift - her crew lost and engine flooded - a victim of the "Bermuda Triangle." She was towed to Miami, the fate of her crew remains a mystery to this day.

The Hawarden Bridge ship:

This place has been broken into a load of times, and has recently been sealed (not very well, but well enough) shut, as such no internals, apart from the ones through windows.

Along with the main offices, the complex has a number of workshops and labs.

Some through-the-window shots:

Saw security onsite too:

Rooster 11-08-2010 23:29

Nice work:thumbs

Gone 11-08-2010 23:58

Superb! I'd love a look at this :)

the copy cat 12-08-2010 00:36

a nice read that and a nice building wouldnt mind a look at this place

54Strat 12-08-2010 10:16

Nice one, I checked out those offices a while back but couldn't find any obvious way in. I commute on the train past this, so I'll keep an eye out.

Earth Worm Jim 12-08-2010 10:44

Tidy! :thumbs

tristanjay 12-08-2010 13:45

Very nice, I like the look of this.

Earth Worm Jim 12-08-2010 14:00

I forgot to say. Had a chat with the security once when I was taking night photos of the bridge, nice chap.

Reddood 12-08-2010 14:23

wonder where that drain leads to

Edus1 12-08-2010 14:36

Nice work :)

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