Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Cementation (1956-7)

Courtesy of North West Film Archive

Main image of Cementation (1956-7)
16mm, colour, silent, 2399 feet
Production CompanyNorth West Film Productions
SponsorThe Cementation Company

Construction of the Tate & Lyle Sugar Silo at Huskisson Dock, Liverpool from its early stages through to near completion.

Show full synopsis

By 1955, many of the buildings in Liverpool docks were becoming outdated, dilapidated and inadequate for the sheer volume of cargo they were required to handle. To solve this problem, Tate & Lyle commissioned the Cementation Company to design and build a new, state-of-the-art storage facility at Huskisson Dock to serve their Love Lane refinery. In turn, the Cementation Company enlisted a local film production company, North West Film Productions, owned by Gerald Willcock, to document the building. Work started in 1955 and took nearly two and a half years to complete.

The building consists of 12 sections, each supported by six external 'ribs.' A scaffolding frame was made, over which a steel skin was laid. Over this, a wooden template was assembled which was used to form the walls and supporting ribs. Once ready, the mould was filled with wet concrete and when each section had dried, the wooden template was dismantled and the steel skin moved along so that the next one could be made.

In addition to the main silo, a conveyor belt and tower were constructed to transport the sugar from the ships in dock up to the overhead conveyor running along the underside of the silo roof. The sugar was then dropped from here into the silo below. The building was completed by the end of 1957, measured 86,000 sq ft and could accommodate 100,000 tons of sugar.

Tate & Lyle announced its intention to close its Love Lane refinery in 1971, but it wasn't until restrictions imposed by the European Common Market on the import of sugarcane in 1975 that production and profits fell dramatically. On 22 January 1981, workers at Tate &Lyle were issued 90-day redundancy notices and, after 99 years, sugar refining at Love Lane ceased with the loss of 2,000 jobs.

Today, the Tate &Lyle Sugar Silo is a grade II* listed building, owned by Mersey Docks and Peel Ports. It is still in use as a silo, mostly for animal feed, but alternative uses have been proposed including repurposing the building as an arts and music venue. In November 2003, mobile phone company Orange organised a one-off concert featuring a number of local and national bands.

Nick Gladden

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. Building the frame 1 (4:10)
2. Building the frame 2 (2:55)
3. Applying the cement (2:47)
Liverpool Steel Scrap Drive (1952)
Liverpool: Made in Liverpool
Liverpool: Shaping the City