It has been over two years since British Gypsum and The Plasterers Forum® have been down the mine and seen the factory, and so we have both been working on getting this trip arranged, and it has been somewhat of a challenge.
Two years ago, The Plasterers Forum® was a lot smaller so when we ran the invitation on the Plasterers News recently to see who would be interested in coming on the next mine trip we were blown away by the response, and we have had to arrange subsequent days just to fulfill the demand.
So below read an account of the day from myself if you have any comments then, please leave them below 🙂
I arrived at British Gypsum HQ at around 07:30 on Friday 28th March 2014 and by following The Plasterers Forum® car park signs (yes we had signs) we met in the other attendees, and the introductions were made. The introductions are always an interesting part of the day as members of The Plasterers Forum® tend to know other members by their usernames and their interactions on the forum.
Once we had all moved our cars and vans in the car park to reverse in the bays (yep all vehicles to be reversed into parking spaces) We headed to the British Gypsum HQ reception where we met the British Gypsum team and did as head count. The banter had already started, and I could see that this was going to be a very informative but funny day.
While we were in the reception of the managing director of British Gypsum came down to see us, which was very nice, and he came and shook my hand, and we chatted for a short while which was pretty damn awesome as its something that I would never have thought I would ever be doing.
Once we all had our name badges, we were then shown the way to the canteen where British Gypsum had put on a massive breakfast for everybody and when I say massive, it was huge you can have anything you wanted, but without stereotyping Plasterers, there was a lot of Full English breakfast being chewed through. While eating breakfast we chatted and spoke to a few more British Gypsum staffs and there was a certain buzz in the air and everybody was genuinely excited for what British Gypsum had in store for us.
After breakfast, we climbed into a minibus and were taken to the British Gypsum Barrow Mine where we got dressed up in big strong welly boots and watched some information about the Barrow mine, and although I had been before I was still learning new things about it. As we were about to leave for the journey down into the mine, I was not feeling particularly well and decided that it would be best if I stayed on the surface. I was taken to a room where they had already plastered a wall in magnetic plaster and had stuck magnets on, and I was quite impressed with what I saw, as it worked exceptionally.
Once all The Plasterers Forum® members where out of the mine, we were then taken on a surface tour which is where you get to see the whole process from the plaster being ground up right through to being injected into the bags. Watching bags of plaster shoot around the factory and not ever being touched by human hands is a real enlightening experience.
The best bit for me was when we got a room which I think is called the dark room as they only turn the lights on when someone is walking around. It’s a room where there are pallets of plaster being loaded and unloaded in this warehouse type place and its truly mind blowing I think we were there for a good 10 minutes staring and watching. This is the one place of British Gypsum which I never get tired of seeing, and I look forward to the next time mine tour just for this room alone.
We also got to see the plaster being loaded on to the lorries and even then they have not been touched by human hands, and all the bags were in pristine condition and if any bag was ripped at this point they would stop the process and see what has gone wrong, and this is quality control at its best.
A question that did come up, which was about the bags of plaster getting ripped and fragile and lots of The Plasterers Forum® members have been expressing their opinions on the situation. British Gypsum has been actively working on solving the problem and in addition to that for the members to see every bag that leaves British Gypsum is in perfect condition did fill them with confidence that The Plasterers Forum® members were being listened to.
Once the surface tour was over, we were taken for lunch, this was also another perfect feed for all the members as Fish & Chips went down very well. I had lots of people tell me it was rare for them to get two hot meals a day and so this was a win for them, but I was still feeling a little ropey so skipped lunch and just drank water.
After lunch, we headed to the research and development center where the hot topic of Magnetic plaster was going to be addressed and give The Plasterers Forum® members a chance to use it for themselves and see what it’s like. I also had a couple of new trowels that were sent up to me from Plasterers 1 Stop Shop that I was interested in getting feedback on, and these trowels were in addition very much liked by The Plasterers Forum® members and furthermore the British Gypsum staff.
The members had a go with the magnetic plaster, and I also got the chance to stick The Plasterers Forum® magnets all over a wall that has already been plastered with magnetic plaster. I don’t think they will notice The Plasterers Forum® magnets I stuck on their wall.
There were lots and lots of chatter about the magnetic plaster and lots of questions being asked, and it baffles a lot of the members why the walls won’t go rusty or how they don’t conduct electricity, but magnets can still stick to it. Yes, it may be seen as witchcraft to some but its true, and you can start seeing the cogs of the members ticking round as to where they can use this new product.
There have been lots and lots of suggestions of its uses such as in schools and hospitals but also potentially for sticking up Christmas decorations. It’s a case of let your mind run free and see what happens, I can personally see this being a fantastic product and will be using it on our new property. To tell you the truth I have already been and written on the walls that need Magnetic plaster on them.
The way that magnetic plaster was described was that it was like spreading hot butter… quite a nice way of putting it, but I can honestly say it looked so good, and I have to say for me. I think it’s going to be the product of the year for myself and also The Plasterers Forum®.
After playing with magnetic plaster, we also got the chance to have a go with Thistle Pure Finish.
Thistle PureFinish contains ACTIVair technology, which captures and permanently converts VOCs into harmless, inert compounds for at least 50 years. Ensuring the indoor air is as clean and fresh as the great outdoors.
This versatile final coat plaster provides good results on all suction backgrounds, and is therefore, the best choice for plastering where both undercoats and board backgrounds are involved on the same job where there is a requirement for improved indoor air quality.
Lots of The Plasterers Forum® members liked this and enjoyed working with it. They said it was nice to lay on and finish which I think is great and also a very interesting product, although I don’t understand how it works, but I trust what it does and will be a benefit to the obvious places likes doctors and hospitals but also people homes who are susceptible to illness.
While the first coat was going off British Gypsum bought out tea and coffees with some cakes as well, and this went down very well by all the members and of course, myself. Once the afternoon tea was finished, we went back into the training school and finished off the walls that they had been started and generally start winding the day up.
At the end of the day British Gypsum gave everybody a T-shirt and hoody and The Plasterers Forum® also added a mug and stickers into the bags for everybody that came on the tour.
Words do not do the day justice. We were looked after and as one member said British gypsum rolled out the red carpet for us. There is nothing that we would have changed or done differently, and it was a pleasure to meet everybody and finally put names to faces.
Thanks to everybody that made this event possible and thanks to the members who stayed for a beer in the evening it was good fun and will be planning on doing the same very soon.
What The Plasterers Forum® Members Said…
Stuart From www.ukplasteringmachines.co.uk
Was lucky enough to be invited on the tour of the British Gypsum mine, was blown away by how simple they make this massive task look, probably one of the most efficient things i have ever seen, and the same goes for their production line, gives you something to think about when you see a product we all use daily coming out of the ground manufactured to a high controlled standard to getting put on a pallet ready to send into the industry, Thank you BG for such a good day