A History Of Industry In The South West And Wales

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Here at FineCal we are proud to be part of a tradition of industry in the South West stretching back for centuries. Starting out close to Clifton in Bristol, we've grown over forty years to become a major 3M distributor and multi-million pound operation.

While we owe our success to our hard work and excellent customer service, we also owe a great debt to the tradition and history of industry in the South West and Wales. Without this tradition, our adhesives,abrasives, printing, packaging and protective gear company might not have such innovative and exciting clients to sell to today.

So we think it's well worth taking a look at how industry in the area developed and thrived, and where it's going in the future.

The Origins Of Industry In The South West And Industry In Wales

Industry in the West and Wales have historically been closely linked, and not just geographically. Ties between Birmingham and Wales are famous due to a magnificent work of engineering, while Bristol's steel industry has benefitted from access to Wales' significant natural resources. However, the South West and Wales' experiences of industry are not exactly the same and should be looked at separately to understand their differing strengths.

Industry In The South West

Isambard Kingdom Brunel is obviously a significant figure to us in Bristol and the South West, and his influence lives on throughout our landscape.

From Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol to the Royal Albert Bridge in Saltash, Cornwall, we are lucky enough to have engineering marvels that are also very beautiful. Brunel's work in the South West also includes less striking but no less impressive work such as the Box Tunnel.

Much of our industry is based on international travel, with a thriving aerospace industry having developed from shipping. Textile mills also formed a powerful basis for much of the industry in the South West, and old mills are still commonly used to house modern industries. The diverse influences on local industry ensured a robust and healthy economy with good representation from engineering and complex finished products.

Industry In Wales

The BBC claims that by 1851 "After the English, the Welsh were the world's second industrial nation". The industrial legacy of Wales continued until the 1980s, and is showing renewed promise in the new millennium.

Where the South West's industries focussed on varied,complex products, Wales focussed on products that could often be created relatively directly from natural resources. Pottery from clay in the North-East, iron from Monmouthshire and East Glamorgan, and of course the mines throughout the region led the way to great and lasting advances in Welsh industry overall.

Mining in Wales, in particular, dates back to Roman times.The hills were stripped for valuable minerals, including exciting precious metals like gold and silver along with more quotidian (but no less valuable) metals like lead and zinc. To this day there are mines open in Wales, albeit on a much smaller scale.

This separate focus lends itself to the close relationship between the South West and Wales, with Wales providing very high quality raw materials and simpler products that enabled some of the engineering feats that characterise both regions.

This is a crude generalisation, as of course Wales has more than its fair share of engineering marvels, including many buildings related to its mines.

The Building Of A Resilient Infrastructure


The infrastructure of the West of the United Kingdom has been built with close transport links, spectacular feats of construction such as the Severn Bridge, and the hard work and ingenuity of countless South West entrepreneurs and business owners.

Part of the reason that the South West has such a thriving industrial economy is that it stands in between the financial centre of London,and the raw natural resources of Wales – but without the infrastructure that has been built up over centuries in the South West and Wales, we would be less able to take advantage.

Diversifying Industries

Both Wales and the South West are increasingly diversifying the types of industry they play host to.

Wales now exports everything from aerospace systems to cereals, for example, while the South West plays host to huge numbers of inventive and original startups and companies. Bristol is noted for its tech-companies, while industries around web design and development are doing very well in the surrounding areas.

Printing & Packaging

This reliance on a complicated, involved infrastructure that supports a wide variety of industries means that our adhesives, abrasives, printing, packaging and protective gear are more in-demand in our home region than ever before.

All of our products enable industrial companies to achieve their goals, and by offering such a great range of items all from one source we make the purchasing process much more convenient.

FineCal In The South West And Wales

We've helped many companies in the South West and Wales to achieve their goals, and we look forwards to helping many more businesses in the years to come.

As well as being a dedicated and reliable distributor, we've got great experience of catering to the many different types of industry that spring up in this region. So if you've got special requirements, we can help! Pick up the phone or drop us a line and we'll do our best to deliver exactly what you need.

We've had over forty years assisting the brightest and best industries in the South West and Wales, and we're excited about doing the same for many, many more years to come.

Last update: Oct 01, 2015

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