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An era ends as Laurence Scott closes

01 January, 2004

An era ends as Laurence Scott closes

Laurence Scott & Electromotors (LSE), the Norwich-based motor manufacturer, is shutting with the loss of about 250 jobs, more than a century after it was founded. LSE is one of eight loss-making businesses that its parent, FKI is closing in an attempt to improve its financial position. FKI is also hoping to sell a further four businesses.

It is not known yet whether FKI`s other drives and motors businesses - principally, FKI Industrial Drives and Marelli Motori - will be axed. But they have not been named among five businesses - including Brush Electrical Machines - that FKI regards as "key", or three other "emerging" companies which it says have good growth potential.

The LSE closure follows a collapse in orders, and a strategic review of the business carried out late last year. Some of LSE`s high-voltage activities are being transferred to other FKI companies, and there is speculation that managers may take over part of the business.

LSE, whose brands include Heenan and TASC, dates back to 1883 when William Harding Scott built a dynamo for Colmans, the Norwich mustard-maker. With backing from Reginald Laurence, the company expanded to provide power stations for Norwich and Ipswich and even laid the distribution networks to consumers in those towns. Laurence Scott`s Gothic Works motors and generators plant opened at its Hardy Road site in 1896 and has continued to be LSE`s base until its closure.

In 1927, the company amalgamated with Manchester-based Electromotors to form LSE. In its heyday during the 1960s, LSE employed more than 3,000 people, making it Norwich`s biggest employer of manual labour.

LSE motors were used on the Titanic, in Trident submarines, and to bore the Channel Tunnel. Technologies that it helped to pioneer included totally-enclosed fan-cooled motors, water-cooled flameproof motors, marine motors, and steel-framed industrial motors. LSE`s design department is even credited with having developed the mechanism that became the traffic light.

FKI estimates that its planned closures and sell-offs will generate £110m of extra cash over the coming three years. The LSE cutbacks account for most of the 350 jobs FKI plans to shed in the UK - about half of the global total. After the cuts, FKI will employ about 13,300 globally, of which about 3,600 will be in the UK.

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