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Celebrating 70 Years

1947 - 2017

70 years of Billington

                                                                       Photo of Arnold Billington and the team circa 1975

2017 marks the 70th anniversary of Billington Structures Ltd. As such, we take a brief look at the past 70 years with highlights from the business and other news & key events that may have impacted the industry. 

Previous and current Managing Directors, Steve Fareham and Mark Smith, respectively, give their statements regarding Billington Structures turning 70 this year. 

A Statement from Steve Fareham 

A Statement from Mark Smith

1947 - 1957

Event:

  • British coal mines nationalised
  • 75 Rockerfeller Plaza completed
  • NHS & NATO are established
  • Elizabeth II becomes Queen of England

History/ Movements in steel production:
The Bessemer process is introduced (1855) – first inexpensive method for mass production

Billington Highlights:
The Company, now known as Billington Structures Ltd, was established in 1947 by Arnold Billington (b.1913, d.1989), a welder previously employed at the Wombwell Foundry. The site on Barnsley Road, Wombwell, was previously occupied by Aldham Glass Works and operated as a jobbing shop.

1958 - 1967

Event:

  • Martin Luther King gives his famous “I have a dream” speech
  • The Beatles first single is released
  • The first episode of Dr Who is aired
  • Ford produces the first Ford Mustang

History/ Movements in steel production:
The open-hearth furnace is introduced (1865) – economical process at the time


Billington Highlights:
Arnold Billington’s brother, Rex, soon joined the company which had begun to grow steadily, with new factories built in both the 1950’s and 60’s. In its formative years, the Company, then known as Billington Bros. (Wombwell) Ltd, relied heavily on the fabrication of steelwork for the local coal mining industry.

1968 - 1977

Event:

  • Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first men to arrive on the moon
  • First jumbo jet makes its debut commercial flight from New York to London
  • Microsoft & the Apple Computer Company are created
  • The CN Tower, in Toronto, is completed (tallest freestanding structure at the time) – used 544.2 tonnes of structural steel

History/ Movements in steel production:
Tungsten steel is created by Robert Mushet – alloyed to form tough metals that are stable at high temperatures (1868)

Billington Highlights:
In the summer of 1968, David Rothwell Morris (b.1938) joined the company as its first Chartered Structural Engineer. Under his guidance (and possibly in response to the diminishing number of working collieries) the company attempted to gain independence from the mining industry and began pursuing work in the building and construction industry. Morris employed his first apprentice, Steve Fareham, who now acts as Non-executive Director for Billington Holdings Plc.

The company became specialists in Cold Stores and eventually diversified into the overseas market, winning its first project in 1977 for an egg store in Arbil, Iraq. This was followed by a series of other projects in Iraq.

1978 - 1987

Event:

  • Sony releases the Walkman
  • The wreck of the Titanic is discovered
  • Band Aid records its first charity single
  • The Chernobyl nuclear reactor explodes

History/ Movements in steel production:
The first steel suspension bridge (Brooklyn Bridge) and first sky scrapper (Home Insurance Building in Chicago) are opened (1880s)

Billington Highlights:
In the early 1980s, Billington Steel expanded its senior staff, recruiting a new Finance Director and Production Director, and Steve Fareham was promoted to Technical Director. The Company also re-joined the British Constructional Steelwork Association (“BCSA”).

1988 - 1997

Event:

  • The Berlin Wall is torn down at the end of the Cold War
  • Nelson Mandela is released from Prison becoming President of South Africa years later
  • The European Union is created
  • The first sheep ‘Dolly’ is successfully cloned

History/ Movements in steel production:
Electric Arc Furnace was designed by Paul Heroult’s – pass an electric current through charged material resulting in exothermic oxidation and high temperatures (1907)


Billington Highlights:
Steelwork production peaked at 1.4 million tonnes in 1988/9 just before the ‘mini-recession’ of the early 1990s. 

1998 - 2007

Event:

  • Google is founded
  • The Eden Project in Cornwall is opened
  • Concorde makes it last commercial flight
  • Pluto is declassified as a planet in the solar system

History/ Movements in steel production:
Invention of stainless steel by Harry Brearley (1912)

Billington Highlights:
The Company experienced a steady and sustained growth which allowed for various extensions at the Wombwell site in Barnsley, both to the offices and factory.
In 2000, Steve Fareham was appointed the President of the BCSA, the industry’s trade association, and served three terms.
Billington has always been early adopters of technology and the steady growth of the sector throughout the late 90’s and early noughties allowed new CNC equipment to be purchased from both Peddinghaus and Ficep.

Awards:
Specialist Contractor Award – Building Magazine 2003
Water Pavilion, Magna - International Strucad Award 2001

2008 - 2017

Event:

  • London Olympics
  • Longest solar eclipse of the third millennium
  • Water molecules are found on the moon
  • Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, the tallest building in the world is completed – 39,000 tonnes of steel rebar used (enough to stretch over a quarter of the way around the world)

History/ Movements in steel production:
Oxygen furnace process developed (1960s) – revolutionised the speed and quality of steel produced
The World Steel Association was founded as the International Iron and Steel Institute in Brussels (1967)

Billington Highlights:
The 2008 recession was deeper and more unremitting than previous financial impacts on the industry. Industry output more than halved to less than 700,000 tonnes in just one year and, this time, recovery was slow.
In 2011, Billington was the first Steelwork Contractor to ‘CE Mark’ a primary steelwork frame in the UK, and was proud to erect the very first CE marked steel structure in the UK, demonstrating compliance with the new and more stringent European standards.
2015 saw the acquisition of Sherling Steel (now Shafton Steel) which operates as a trading division of Billington Structures.
Billington now operates five modern CNC saw/drill lines and has a combined fabrication capacity of up to 1,000 tonnes per week, working on projects ranging from simple building frames to complex structures in excess of 6,000 tonnes.
With a team of over 25 Chartered Structural Engineers, Designers and CAD Draughtsmen, just under half of Billington’s turnover is from Design and Build projects. The technical team use specialist 3D steel fabrication modelling and detailing software.

Awards:
Derby Multi-Sports Arena – Structural Steel Design Award Winner 2015
Project Beagle – UK Tekla Awards 2017
6 Bevis Marks Roof Garden – Commendation in the Structural Steel Design Awards 2016 (Tubecon)
Sheffield Diamond Building – IStructE Yorkshire Engineering Awards 2017
The Hurlingham Club Racquet Centre, London – Commendation in the 2017 SSDA
A400M MRO Facility, RAF Brize Norton – Merit in the 2017 SSDA

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