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1979 - Midland Cryogenics Limited - 2019

David Brocklesby

MCL was first established in 1979 when I left BOC and was joined by another ex-BOC employee. I was at that time assistant Sales Manager and my new business partner worked in a clerical role.


Initially MCL restricted its activities to shrink fitting and nitrogen supply, however a venture commenced reviewing the possibilities of pipe freezing and this culminated in projects as far flung as Australia, Saudi Arabia, Norway and many projects throughout the UK.


Due to the increased offshore enquiries, MCL Offshore Ltd was established, catering for the more unusual pipe freeze enquiries.


The Australian project involved freezing a 10” newly laid pipe to locate a leak somewhere on a 32-kilometre pipeline, the pipe was 1½ metres below the surface. By freezing and pressure testing the leak was found within 4 days working time, which was identified as a blow hole in the pipeline.


The most unusual and difficult freeze was on a Norwegian oil rig, which required freezes on eighteen 18” pipes inside the leg of the platform on the seabed. The pipes were frozen consecutively and held for 6 days. It was a very successful project, and had a failure occurred the Norwegian economy would have been seriously affected. The design and project management were entirely that of MCL.


The UK played host to some unusual pipe freezing too.


Further recent contracts of the unusual type included pipe freezing on nuclear submarines, and on one occasion the freeze was held for 5 weeks by three MCL technicians working round the clock.


MCL continued supplying multiple customers with diverse requirements including: -


  • BAE Systems

  • Rolls Royce

  • Bentley Motors

  • Mobil North Sea

  • National Grid

  • Coors Brewery

  • Jaguar Cars

  • British Nuclear Fuels

  • Eggborough Power Station

  • Texaco


Including freeze works at numerous hospitals, power stations, schools, universities and airports.


Freezing hydrants was identified as a possibility and the first enquiry was to attempt to freeze a leaking hydrant outside a Grimsby food factory. The factory required a continuous supply of water and even though it had been leaking for 5 years, turning off the mains and replacing the hydrant was not an option. MCL reviewed the possible replacement and were successful in freezing the hydrant, the whole project was completed within 45 minutes, with no interruption of supply to the factory


This resulted in the various Water Authorities adopting this as an acceptable process and a hydrant replacement programme was established, culminating in 1,000’s of hydrant replacements used in: -


  • Lincolnshire

  • North & South Wales

  • East Anglia

  • Northumberland

  • The Midlands

  • Shropshire

Hover / Click images for a description:

On a personal level, I worked as a technical representative for Calor Gas then joined BOC in technical sales.


During this period with BOC, I was seconded to their subsidiary CIG in Australia for a 2-year period and experienced many new aspects of technical applications.


Upon returning to the UK I became assistant sales manager at BOC, Wolverhampton, but in 1979 I was made redundant.


At this point MCL was formed, introducing a whole new experience of project work and management systems.


I was awarded a flying scholarship at the age of 17, and I have always held a continued interest in light aircraft satisfying many flying challenges including, Tiger Moth, Chipmunk and several single engine aircraft, as pilot in charge.


I recently had the wonderful experience flying, in the co-pilots seat I might add, a Spitfire. If you get the chance, take it!


I am no stranger to thrills at height, as I have parachuted from 3,000 ft and earlier this year paraglided from a height of 3,500ft in Tenerife.


Note: As I am 80 years old this September, not to be repeated.


I enjoy living in the countryside and being close to nature. My wife Ann and I tend a small flock of sheep. I am a member of the Fergie Tractor Club and my hobbies include the renovation of a 1954 Grey Ferguson Tractor and driving my 1950 MGTD, which manages to clock up some 100 miles per year!


I have now given up squash, rugby and other sports, but can regularly be seen “training” with the “Ale Drinking” formation team in Penkridge.


New Algerian projects are high on the agenda and could well keep my activities extended again to major overseas work.


All in all, keeping very active.


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