Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Timeline: Port Talbot and its long tradition of steel-making

Credit: British Pathe

Port Talbot steelworks once employed many thousands more people than the 4,000 today. The works were once the largest in Europe and the jewel in Britain's industrial crown.

Last night Tata Steel announced it's considering selling its entire UK steel operation, including the country's biggest site in Wales.

It comes after the company decided at the start of the year to cut 750 jobs at the steelworks, and a further 300 at other sites across the UK.

We take a look at the key events in the town and the steel industry:

  • 1837: Port Talbot docks open. The docks, and subsequently the town, are named after the wealthy industrialist Talbot family, which were the main backers behind the project.
  • 1901-05: The original Port Talbot steel mill is built in the Welsh town. It is named after Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot.
  • 1923-1926: Margam Iron and Steel opens.
Credit: British Pathe
  • 1947: The Steel Company of Wales is formed.
  • 1951: A new steel plant called The Abbey Works is opened by UK chancellor Hugh Gaitskill. It is the location where the current plant stands. Two years later it becomes fully operational.
  • 1953: Margam Iron and Steel works closes.1961: Original Port Talbot steel mill closes.
  • 1967: The Steel Company of Wales is now absorbed into British Steel. Around this time the Abbey Works plant is now the biggest of its kind in Europe and the largest single employer in Wales - directly employing around 20,000.
Credit: British Pathe
  • 1988: British Steel is privatised by the Conservative UK government.
  • 1999: Steel firm Corus is created following the merger of British Steel and Dutch firm Koninklijke Hoogovens. Among its plants includes the Port Talbot plant.
  • 2001: Three men die and another 12 are injured following a blast furnace explosion which becomes the industry's worst disaster in 26 years. Four years later, a coroner later returns a verdict of accidental death on the trio.
  • 2007: India-based conglomerate Tata takes over Corus in a deal worth £6.7 billion.
Credit: ITV News
  • 2009: Corus cuts 2,500 UK jobs - including 1,000 in Wales.
  • 2011: Corus is now rebranded as Tata Steel Europe.
  • 2012: Tata Steel announces it is cutting 900 jobs across the UK. Among the casualties are around 500 in Port Talbot and Llanwern.
Credit: ITV News
  • 2013: Tata unveils a refurbished and £185 million blast furnace at Port Talbot - which is seen as a major vote of confidence to the plant. The Port Talbot works now employs around 4,000 and by the end of the year churns out 4.5 million tonnes of steel. The steel it produces features in every Heinz tin sold in the UK as well providing roofs for Nissan's Juke cars.
  • 2015: Tata Steel cuts another 900 jobs - this time in Scunthorpe. A further 270 steelworkers also lose their jobs in Scotland.
  • 2016: It is announced that 1,000 further Tata jobs will be cut - with 750 of those coming from Port Talbot.
Credit: Ben Birchall / PA Images

Last night Tata Steel announced plans to sell their entire UK operation:

  • February 2016: Tata Steel Europe announces that its chief executive is to stand down and his replacement will not have a place on the main Tata board in Mumbai.
  • March 2016: Tata bosses hold a board meeting in India with an action plan to save the Port Talbot works. The get-together comes amid fears the plant could be mothballed.
  • March 29th: Tata confirms it is to 'explore all options for portfolio restructuring' including the potential sell-off of UK assets.
  • March 30th: The UK and Welsh Governments say they 'remain committed to working with Tata and the unions on a long-term sustainable future for British steel-making' and are looking at 'all viable options' to keep the steel industry alive.

More on this story