11 July 2022

Marking a milestone

Packaging can

Tata Steel’s South Wales Trostre tin works site celebrates 70 years with a range of events for employees and the local community

Tata Steel Trostre 70 years

Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, Tata Steel’s Trostre Tinplate Works have hosted several events to mark the occasion. 

Trostre Works has been fully operational since 1952 and is one of the largest single employers in the county of Carmarthenshire in South Wales. Located in Llanelli, Trostre manufactures approximately 380,000-400,000 tonnes of tin, chrome, and ‘polymer’ coated steels every year for food and drinks cans, bakeware and other packaging industries. 

Initial building started in 1947 in an area of marshland, the cold mill was commissioned in November 1951 with production in full swing by 1952. The tin works was originally developed on the Trostre site after local mills closed, leaving 12,000 local people in need of skilled jobs. Llanelli and the surrounding area had a local heritage in tinplate manufacture, and so many residents possessed skills and knowledge of the metal trade.

70 years later, Trostre has remained a leading supplier of high-quality steels supplying over fifty countries worldwide. Tata Steel has developed the site and invested in new technology, recruitment, training and research and development (R&D) to maintain Trostre’s reputation as a leading producer of tinplate production in Europe.

“Undoubtedly the key to Trostre’s longevity has been its people. It is their ability to adapt and innovate - and their appetite to continually improve standards and service – that make it a huge success,” explains Joe Gallacher, Works Manager at Trostre. “Customers around the world recognise that, value it and now expect it. To stay competitive, we need to continually improve to keep them ahead of packaging alternatives.
“The drive to innovate our products is continuous. If anything, the rate of change is getting faster. In the next 2-3 years both the REACH legislation and people’s drive for sustainable living will fuel our rate of change and rate of improvement. 

“I am delighted we are celebrating our 70th anniversary from a strong industry position and this reflects the quality of workforce we’ve developed at Tata Steel.”

To kick start the 70th anniversary celebration, artist Hilary Powell embarked on a new body of work entitled Tin Works to showcase the history and people of Trostre. Tin Works is a collection of photographs and portraits not only depicting the people and processes of the site but created and printed onto the site-specific materials used there every day. 

In total, 146 employee and contractor portraits have been captured on tinplate and exhibited on site to mark the anniversary year.

“I was really welcomed by Joe Gallacher, the works manager, and it was great to be able to share the work back with the people I photographed in their canteen and to give each person their own can as a memento of the project,” says Hilary.

“There was fascination around the techniques using and thinking about the material they work with every day in a different way. The project is all about valuing the people and industries. It was a nice moment to celebrate both its production and the work on site and its history.”
The Trostre site also maintains close links with the local community through various bursary awards and educational awareness programmes run in local schools and colleges. These aim to promote sustainability, environmental responsibility, life cycle and particularly Trostre’s products which are 100% recyclable. 

To mark Trostre’s 70th anniversary the education team also created their own special exhibition in the form of a celebratory ‘can cake’ in the canteen. This giant birthday cake was constructed using 1,000 Heinz tins which weighed just under half a ton. After the celebration, all cans will be donated to the local food bank

“It felt great to be able to add a little something extra to the celebrations by building the ‘can cake’ display as something for people to talk about whenever they passed the canteen,” says Eleanor Shorland, Packaging Recycling Education Officer.

“Trostre is the packaging division but is still very much part of something bigger; it is a big part of Tata Steel UK and Tata Steel Group. Trostre tinplates the steel that comes from Port Talbot and a large percentage of that steel stays within the UK to become steel packaging items. Our ‘can cake’ was a fun way to highlight what we achieve here.

“Knowing that all the food cans were then being donated to the food bank was even better. Trostre works has been part of the community for so long it was nice to be able to give back to people who might need a little extra support. I love knowing that I work for a global company that cares for and proactively works with its local communities. Many people describe the environment and people at Trostre as a big family!”

One of the longest serving Trostre employees, Leighton Howell, Senior Engineer (started 1978) also comments on the ‘family’ ethos of the site and their commitment to education and development. He says: “For me, the highlight of a career at Trostre will always be the camaraderie of the workforce; it really is a very enjoyable place to work. I am also very proud to have achieved a company sponsored degree and chartership. 

“For apprentices and new starters coming to Trostre, my advice is the same as it’s always been: Trostre offers the tools and variety of equipment to become a highly valued craftsman, with possibilities for sponsored degrees to continue the development into senior engineering roles. The succession route is only limited by desire and commitment, so don’t waste the opportunities.

“Throughout the years a lot has changed but we have always been consistent in producing a world class quality product, delivered on time.”

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