A brief history of Head Wrightson, 1840-1987
Information sourced from "Life at Head's: Memories of Working at Head Wrightson", edited by Margaret Williamson.
Teesdale Iron Works founded on a five acre site in South Stockton, later incorporated as the Borough of Thornaby.
Charles Arthur Head and Thomas Wrightson buy the works, each investing £8000
It becomes a public limited company with assets valued at £310,000
The company buys Stockton Forge and the Egglescliffe Foundry
Electric arc furnaces installed at Thornaby enabling the manufacture of steel castings up to 35 tons.
Due to the economic slump following the Wall Street Crash Sir Guy Wrightson mortgages the family seat, Neasham Hall, to ensure the company’s survival. Re-armament of the late 1930s sees the company once again making a profit.
Thornaby site damaged by a German bombing raid.
1940s and 1950s
The creation of a Research Division plus a concentration on high quality apprentice training grows the company’s reputation for high quality production.
The company buys the Friarage at Yarm. It becomes the company headquarters in 1966
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan visits the Thornaby site emphasizing the company’s role in the modernization programme for the UK.
Extensive work on nuclear reactors, including the company becoming a shareholder in British Nuclear Associates Ltd.
Three day week, miners strike and the 1973 and 1979 oil crises make conditions for UK industry extremely difficult. Competition from emerging industrial counties using cheaper labour and lack of public investment in big projects compound the problems.
Company merges with Sheffield based engineering competitor Davy.
Middlesbrough works closes.
Egglescliffe Foundry closes.
Davy McKee closes what was left of Head Wrightson.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher takes a “walk in the wilderness” on the derelict Head Wrightson site. “We have got to get people working together.” She said, “The North was built by the enterprise of its people.”