in 1939, ICI took out a licence to manufacture nylon fibre. Realising that they needed the experience of a specialized textile firm, ICI formed a partnership with Courtaulds, who were leading suppliers of viscose rayon. In January 1940 they registered British Nylon Spinners as a limited company with a nominal capital of £300,000 and took equal shares in the company. The product was badly needed to make parachutes, especially after Japan's entry into the war in December 1941 blocked supplies of silk. In March 1945 it was announced that they had purchased a site in South Wales.
The factory was built between 1945 and 1948; it was designed by Sir Percy Thomas and Son and is the major production unit on a formally planned and landscaped industrial complex. The historical context for this development lies in the catastrophic decline of the traditional south Wales industries between the wars, and growing recognition that the national interest would best be served by a balanced distribution of diversified industry.
The factory was originally the source of all nylon yarn produced in Britain and employed some 5,000 people. Construction began in 1945, with Sir Robert McAlpine and Sons Ltd as general contractors; production began in 1948. There was some expansion thereafter, not only to the main plant itself, but also in associated buildings on the site; these included a doctors' surgery, a building devoted to testing and developing the products to support their successful use by customers, an administration block and a Research and Development block. Around 1960 a clubhouse was built across the road with a huge ballroom, as well as a rifle range, judo lessons, a restaurant and bars. BNS ceased to exist in 1964, when ICI purchased Courtaulds' stake after a failed takeover attempt of Courtaulds proper. At some point it came under the control of DuPont, and latterly seems to have been managed by a company called Terram (albeit the works were used in a much reduced capacity).
I visited this with @jonesy after a tip off from @clebby over lunch after an interesting morning in the local area involving an asylum and some over anxious security guards….
We made our way in to the back of the site into what appeared to be a fairly busy trading estate. Even though it was the weekend a fair amount of people still seemed to be there.
We quickly made our way inside and started exploring, heading straight for the spinning tower and the huge tanks we could see through the windows. They didn’t fail in being of interest and we were soon wandering amongst them and taking pics.
We climbed up the gantry to have a better look at the vats and to have butchers out of the windows at the roof top that awaited us.
Although we failed to see the offices due to the constant reminder of people on the site we did get to have a good rummage through the various stores on the roof tops and found some interesting machinery.