A. Reyrolle & Company was founded in 1901 by Alphonse Reyrolle, a Frenchman, who came to England before the turn of the century, starting a small engineering business in London. Reyrolle transferred his business to North East England in 1901 and started the company which still occupies the same site in Hebburn on Tyneside. The business grew from a site of 2 hectares employing 58 people, to a site of 65 hectares employing 10 000 people in the mid 1960's.
Alphonse Reyrolle was joined by Henry Clothier in 1904. Using Reyrolle's sound engineering background and Clothier's genius as a switchgear designer, the company started on the road which made its product a world leader in its field. From 1904 up to the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the Company continued to grow. As well as expanding on the production side, 1929 saw the commissioning of the first Short-Circuit Testing Station in the United Kingdom. During this period the deaths of Clothier in 1938 and Reyrolle in 1919 occurred.
The business continued to grow, improving and increasing manufacture at Hebburn and developing overseas manufacturing capability and testing facilities.
In 1968 A. Reyrolle merged with the famous Tyneside turbine generator C.A. Parsons, forming Reyrolle-Parsons Group. In 1969 Reyrolle-Parsons acquired the transformer business Bruce Peebles Industries. During the 1960s Reyrolle played a key role in construction of the United Kingdom's 420kV Supergrid Transmission System, developing new products to meet the needs of the Central Electricity Generation Board. Switchgear was also developed and supplied to meet the heavy demands of the power station construction programme together with control equipment for new nuclear power stations.
The 1970s saw a period of consolidation and major investment in the development of new switchgear design, particularly with SF6 technology. This investment ensured Reyrolle were in a position to secure a major part of the business associated with the advanced Gas-cooled Reactor nuclear power station construction programme of the early 1980's.
In 1977 Reyrolle-Parsons merged with the mechanical engineering business Clarke-Chapman-John Thompson, forming Northern Engineering Industries (NEI) Limited. This enabled Reyrolle to provide a key element of NEI's capability to provide complete power stations on a turnkey basis, including Rihand Power Station (2 x 500MW) in Northern India. The Reyrolle business continued to expand during the late 1980's with major turnkey substations projects undertaken overseas and in the United Kingdom.
In 1991 Reyrolle received an order worth $150M for three 400kV turnkey substations in Dubai. That was the highest value order ever and the largest transmission substation contract ever awarded to a United Kingdom company. This major project incorporated the products of the Hebburn factory, particularly its highly successful world class 420kV Gas Insulated Switchgear.
In 1989 NEI merged with Rolls-Royce and Reyrolle became a major business within the Industrial Power Group of that world famous company, underpinning the Reyrolle tradition.
In June 1995 Reyrolle secured its largest ever contract for a new 30 bay 380kV gas insulated substation including extension to two other substations from SCECO (C) in Saudi Arabia. The substation completes a power supply ring around the City of Riyadh and connects new transmission lines from other parts of the SCECO (C) network. This complete turnkey project was valued at $300 Million.
In 1998 Reyrolle became a member of the VA TECH group of Austria. The combination of these two major businesses formed one of the leading companies in the Transmission and Distribution businesses world-wide. VA TECH Reyrolle along with other T&D subsidiaries form a joint venture with Schneider Electric in 2001 under the name VA TECH Schneider High Voltage.
In 2002 as part of a group wide renaming process VA TECH Reyrolle becomes VA TECH Transmission & Distribution Limited.
In 2005, Siemens acquired VA TECH Transmission & Distribution Limited and formed Siemens Transmission and Distribution Ltd. The business currently employs approximately 1000 people, 500 of these are employed within the South Tyneside area, half of which are based at the original site in Hebburn. The business continues to successfully grow with multiple offices and manufacturing facilities established across the UK.