George Thomas, Industrial Chemist

I’m a ‘Hully-Gully’, born in Durham Street in East Hull, schooled at Maybury Road Infants, Mersey Street Juniors and Mallett Lambert Grammar School. I went to work at Earles Cement in the city, not because I had a Eureka moment in the labs at school but because the jobs were available.

I worked in Hull for some years and then applied for a job in a cement firm in Lewes in Sussex. As luck would have it, I was also offered a job at United Steels in Rotherham. My wife Pat asked me which was the more interesting job and I had to admit that the idea of researching new ways of using blast furnace slag in the construction industry was the more exciting prospect.

And so it proved. Slag became so important for me that I came to regard steel as just a by-product of slag, and as my fascination with the stuff progressed I left the steel industry, setting up my own labs on the Lincolnshire bank of the Humber, travelling around the world advising steel companies on the best uses for their slag, and representing them as an expert witness in court cases when they were alleged to have got it wrong!

I think of the Humber Bridge as my place because without my formula for using milled blast furnace slag to make a special crack resistant concrete they might never have been able to build it at all. Of course, there are many Yellow Bellies (as we Hully Gullies call Lincolnshire folk) who wish it never had been built, so I don’t brag about it too much on this side of the water!


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