British Insulated Callender's Cables

British Insulated Callender's Cables

Infobox Defunct Company
company_name = British Insulated Callender's Cables
fate = Renamed
successor = Balfour Beatty
foundation = 1945
defunct = 2000
location = London, UK
industry = Building materials
key_people =
products = Cables
num_employees =
parent =
subsid =

British Insulated Callender's Cables (BICC) was a 20th century British cable manufacturer and construction company, now renamed after former subsidiary Balfour Beatty.


British Insulated Callender's Cables was formed in 1945 by the merger of two long established cable firms, Callender's Cable & Construction Company Limited and British Insulated Cables. Subsidiaries could trace their roots back to submarine cable manufacturing on the Thames in the 1850s. The company was renamed BICC Ltd in 1975. [ [ "BICC", Monopolies & Mergers Commission] ]

Callender's, originally an importer and refiner of bitumen for road construction, began manufacturing insulated cables in the 1880s at their Erith site on the Thames. British Insulated Cables had its origins in 1890 in the British Insulated Wire Company of Prescot, near Liverpool. Cable manufacture remained at both sites throughout the history of BICC.

Among the many early companies absorbed into BICC was the Greenwich firm Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company (Telcon). This made the 1865 and 1866 transatlantic cables and (as its forerunner Glass, Elliot & Co), the 1857 and 1858 cables.

Constituent companies of BICC played significant roles in construction of the British National Grid in the 1930s. Callender's for example constructed the 132kV crossing of the Thames at Dagenham with overhead cables spanning 3060 feet (932m) between two 487ft (148m) towers, and allowing 250ft (76m) clearance for shipping. ["Power over the Thames", C. Winchester Ed 1937, Wonders of World Engineering P1321-1324, Amalgamated Press, London] . Companies including Glovers at Trafford Park and Callender's at Erith contributed to manufacturing PLUTO.

By the 1970s the firm had works at Erith, Prescot, Kirkby, Leyton, Helsby, Leigh, Melling, Wrexham, Blackley and Belfast, making electric power cables, telecommunications cables and metals. BICC's (originally Callender's) research and engineering laboratories at a former power station site in White City, London was close to Ormiston House, William Ormiston Callender's house of the 1870s. [ [ History of Wood Lane Chapter 3] ]

Demise of the business

In 1999 the ailing BICC sold its optical cables business to Corning and power cables businesses to General Cable Corporation [ [ PR Newswire "General Cable enters into a definitive agreement to acquire the worldwide energy cable assets of BICC PLC"] ] , which subsequently sold on parts to Pirelli. Closure of part the Erith works by Pirelli was announced in 2002, with production of oil-filled cable transferred to their Eastleigh works in Hampshire. [ [ Pirelli to shed 445 jobs, BBC News 20 Nov 2002] ] Pirelli subsequently sold off their cable operations, now known as Prysmian.

BICC also owned construction company Balfour Beatty, and following sale of the cable operations the remaining company was renamed as Balfour Beatty in 2000. [ [ Shake-up will see BICC change to Balfour Beatty] ]


Further reading

* R.M. Morgan, 1982, "Callenders 1882-1945", BICC plc.

External links

* [ Merseyside Maritime Museum Maritme Archives & Library]

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