The ‘Butters’ Mould
believe that this crane was commissioned in the 1950’s. Ingot moulds
that had been made at the Dowlais Ivor Works, and sold to steelworks
throughout the country, returned to Dowlais for breaking up after they
had come to the end of the their useful life. After the breaking up of
the moulds they would be melted down again in the cupolas and recycled
into the casting of new moulds.
My father, John Rees
Williams (Jack), had worked as a young man at the Morlais Quarries and
was trained in the use of explosives under guidance from his own father.
He furthered his knowledge of explosives during World War Two.
Breaking of the Moulds
The returned moulds were
lowered by the ‘Butters’ crane into a pit which was deep enough to
accommodate a large number of moulds below ground level (roughly 20
moulds). The moulds were then filled with water, and a length of wood
was placed over the top of each mould, from which the individual charges
were dangled into the water for the maximum effect of the explosive
blast. This blast was sufficient to fracture and break the moulds into
numerous large pieces, thereafter, a large steel ball was picked up to a
great height by the electric magnet of the ‘Butters’ crane. The ball
(Breaker’s ‘Bomb’) was then dropped onto the broken mould pieces to
reduce them to a small enough size to be recycled in the furnace.
As an unrelated and
light-hearted anecdote, I well remember as a young apprentice working
with several tradesmen at the ‘Butters’ crane when along came a newly
recruited engineer, who I shall refer to as ‘Captain ?’ who thought he
‘knew it all’. As a ‘teach you a lesson’ prank the tradesmen lifted the
rear of his car and placed bricks under the axle so that the back
driving wheels were only just above the ground. Needless to say when
Captain ? started his engine and revved the guts out of it, the back
wheels spun at high speed, without the car moving. Captain ? was never
seen at the ‘Butters’ crane again. Ironically, one of these tradesmen
(who shall remain nameless) became a highly respected engineer himself,
some years later.