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When ICI came to Penkridge

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: March 02, 2014

By Terry Gilder

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WHAT went on in the large hangar-like building on the edge of a newly established industrial estate in Penkridge remains something of a mystery to many locals.

Some of the warehousing covered areas as large as nine acres and outside were parked lorries with forklift trucks loading stacks of boxes into them.

Inside, were 22 staff members and 30 shop floor workers in buildings which were fully operational 24 hours a day - and all working to a computerised timetable.

Outside, a sign on the Boscomoor Lane simply read ICI Fibres Limited, a part of the world-famous ICI industries which, like all other ICI divisions, responded to a world demand.

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Back in the 1950s and 1960s, the demand was for fabrics which were durable, non-creasing and washable - and some of their names became familiar. Bri-nylon, Terylene, Crimplene, Nufil, Terylene and Spinstron.

The demand was still evident in around 1967, when the village of Penkridge was chosen by ICI Fibres - as it was then known - and a massive depot to distribute these materials was completed.

Manager William Harrison explained that sites within a five-mile radius of Penkridge were considered but the two motorway accesses and the suitability of the Lyne Hill Industrial Estate was said to be ideal for ICI purposes.

Inside the warehouses, a visitor would see row upon row of neatly stacked cardboard boxes with forklift trucks, all rushing around and taking them to waiting trailers of articulated vehicles.

It was perhaps one of the first computerised warehouses in the Midlands with depot bosses knowing at a glance the location of every fibre needed by its customers.

The ICI site covered 360,000 square feet and its special features included non-dust floors, bays with 100 feet spans.

In 1967, the depot could boast immediate delivery, said each transportation manager William Pitt.

Sadly, within a few years the Penkridge depot was no longer needed, demand had plummeted and even the head office at Pontypool was downgraded. The era of man-made fibres had almost come to an end.

As for Lyne Hill Industrial Estate, it has diminished in size in recent years and applications for homes have been submitted

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