A power station boiler auxiliary motor control board with individual isolation for each panel.
The company was founded by Harry Rayner and Jeanne Liwski in October 1936. They obtained a licence which allowed them to manufacture switchgear that was designed by La Telemecanique Electrique, a French company. Harry and Jeanne obtained premises in Moorfield Road and started with just 6 staff.

The high quality switchgear sold well and the company soon opened a new machine shop. The Moorfield Road works had a number of departments including the Test Dept., Sub-Assembly Dept., Sheet Steel Dept., Development Dept., Inspection Dept., Stores and the Company Office.

The switchgear was built to a high standard and the workforce was proud of the company's products, which included contactors and automatic electric control gear up to 1,000H.P. This was used to control such things as A.C. motors up to 5,000 volts, electric furnaces, machine tools and rolling mills. The number of employees grew rapidly and by 1957 had reached 600. Many people enjoyed working in the happy family atmosphere so much that they stayed there for the rest of their working life.
The Main Assembly Bay where control boards and starting panels are being assembled.
Sales were good and in order to increase production more space was required, so in 1959 the company decided to build a new factory at Leominster in Herefordshire. Some departments moved to the new works and others such as the Test Department stayed in Wolverhampton. By this time there was a large spares market for the company's products, both for repairs and modifications to existing installations.

In the late 1960s the company produced the Tactorstat logic controlled, electronic, automatic control gear. This was extremely reliable, had a long life and operated at high speeds, because it had no moving parts due to its solid state design. The system could also operate in locations where the equipment would be subjected to atmospheric pollution or dust.

The photograph shows a standard 'direct on' contactor for use in A.C. motor starters.

The company's other control gear could operate up to 6,600 volts A.C. and 650 volts D.C. It was used in iron and steel works, power stations, rolling mills, mechanised foundries, sewage works, chemical plants, gas works and cement works.

In 1969 Contactor Switchgear was taken over by M.T.E. and  the company stopped making its own parts. M.T.E. parts were used instead. The Leominster factory was closed and 120 people made redundant. By this time Harry Rayner had died and Jeanne Liwski was nearing retirement.

The photograph shows the control panel at Goldthorn Hill Repumping Station that was built by Contactor Switchgear.

Sales started to fall and in 1974 M.T.E. was taken over by R.H.P. who made ball bearings. R.H.P. planned to close the Wolverhampton factory and sell the buildings. Luckily one of Contactor Switchgear's old customers, Lawrence Scott and Electromotors stepped in and purchased the company, which saved the day.

The photograph shows part of the control panels which were built by Contactor Switchgear for use with a high production grabbing crane at Stewart and Lloyds in Bilston.

In 1980 Lawrence Scott and Electromotors became part of Mining Supplies, who already had a switchgear division. There were further redundancies and by 1984 the workforce had fallen to 120. Sales fell and in October 1985 the company started a three day working week. This continued until the following February when sales started to pick-up again.
Part of the works at the end of Moorfield Road. On the right is part of Turners factory.
Courtesy of Jim Boulton.

The end came in July 1986 when Mining Supplies was taken over and it was announced that Contactor Switchgear would close, on October 31st. It was a sad end to a company that produced such high quality products.


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