During the summer I went to take photographs of where I worked at British Steel Rotherham in the 1980’s on Sheffield Rd, much of the plant still existed, but had been left in a state of decay. At that time I was shocked to find that Swinden Laboratories was still open, but then dismayed only a few months later to find out that it was now closing. The worse case scenario and most likely, is 100 quality jobs being lost in Rotherham.
I spent a month at Swinden Laboratories in the 1980’s, while completing my Process control apprenticeship. I enjoyed this more than any other part of my training, as this was the environment I had expected to work in when I first chose my apprenticeship. I built PCB boards and added components, for a modern automated metallurgy system. This would show up any flaws in the metal, so that these area’s could be ground out or disposed of.
If I had been offered a place at Swinden Laboratories, I can imagine me still being at British Steel Rotherham even now. However I ended up in a dead end job in Roundwood bar mill that closed many years ago and therefore made a move to Midland Bank’s Telecom department where I remained for 15 years.
My time as an electronic technician wasn’t wasted, as I have used those life skills elsewhere in mind machine technology related to Hypnotherapy. However I wish that I could have carried
on in the research side of electronics, an area that the UK allowed to be run down which has cost us dearly as a country since. A by product of Margaret Thatcher’s money before people philosophy.
I decided to go along and take some pictures of Swinden Laboratories before the site is closed down and moved to Warwick near Birmingham. I can’t understand why a facility would be moved out of the main area of the country for special steels close to Sheffield, especially with all the experience that the site holds.
Swinden Laboratories can be accessed from Broom Lane (Beaconsfield Rd) or Moorgate rd across from Rotherham hospital. I have managed to capture a few pictures of the house from a distance and the many industrial buildings built around it.
I spoke to a security guard on one of the entrances who wouldn’t let me go in and take pictures, however I am sure I could have gotten into the middle of the site from the other entrance way and taken pictures. However I have managed to add a picture of the site from Google maps showing the site from above. I remember having my lunch on the lawn you can see right in the middle of the picture on many occasions, when the weather was sunny.
Swinden House was originally known as Red house and was built in the past by a wealthy business men. United Steels acquired this site in 1946 and it was renamed Swinden Laboratories after the first director of their research department. I can imagine that Swinden Laboratories was the Steel Industries equivalent of Bletchley Park and must hide many secrets over the years.
It is possible to hire conference rooms in the main Swinden house. I really hope that Swinden Laboratories remains open or at least gets turned into a venue that will benefit the whole of the public and keep some of our heritage, it would be a great place to house a history museum dedicated to Sheffield’s Rotherham and Steel heritage.
If you have worked at Swinden Laboratories in the past, tell me your story? If you know me give me a shout!
All the best