NZ4621 : ICI Oil Works, Billingham, circulator house

taken 30 years ago, near to Norton, Stockton-on-Tees, Great Britain

ICI Oil Works, Billingham, circulator house
ICI Oil Works, Billingham, circulator house
ICI built a coal to petrol plant at Billingham (known as the Oil Works)in 1935 and this was of great use during WWII. In the post war era it was adapted to produce more mundane chemicals such as detergents and plasticisers. It was decommissioned in the early 1990s and demolished.

This building originally contained a row of ten Belliss & Morcom compound steam engines (left) direct coupled to Belliss and Morcom gas circulators (right). These were good for up to 685 bhp each. They circulated either hydrogen or a CO/hydrogen mix at 260 bar. When visited, eight were intact, one was scrapped and the one nearest the camera was being rebuilt from the bedplate up (never finished).

Obviously, permission was needed to enter this plant and photography was another layer of difficulty as no batteries were allowed on site (even wrist watches were checked in to an office away from the plant). The pictures were therefore taken on guessed and bracketed exposures with an SLR that had some mechanical shutter speeds (B was mechanical). I have just scanned this slide - there has been no post-exposure manipulation of any sort.

As ICI has now been broken up and this plant has gone, I now feel able to share an image that I have always been very pleased with.
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NZ4621, 14 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Saturday, 13 October, 1990   (more nearby)
Monday, 14 December, 2009
Steam engines   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NZ 468 218 [100m precision]
WGS84: 54:35.3540N 1:16.6380W
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