Obituary – David Barradell CEng MIMMM

Fellows' Lounge
1 Jun 2016

David Barradell CEng MIMMM 1936–2016

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our dear friend and colleague, David Barradell, on 15 March 2016. David was well known and respected in the British steel industry, where he worked for around 40 years prior to his retirement.

David was born on 23 February 1939 in Blackhill, County Durham. He attended Dame Allans School in Newcastle and went on to study metallurgy at Kings College Newcastle, now Newcastle University.

After university, David started his career in the steel industry in 1962 at Consett Works as a metallurgist in the plate mill. In 1964, he progressed to team leader of a group improving quality and yield of billet steel and later became section leader in quality control before acting QC manager. He was appointed Assistant Manager of the BOS plant where he gained considerable experience in all aspects of production management of an oxygen steel plant. In 1977, he moved into R&D and was appointed Departmental Manager, Oxygen Steelmaking at the Teesside Technology Centre, where he was responsible for the development and improvement of oxygen steelmaking in all British Steel BOS plants.

In 1993, David and his family moved to South Wales where he took the role of Technical Manager, Iron and Steelmaking, Integrated Works where he was responsible for the technical aspects of iron and steelmaking at the Port Talbot and Llanwern sites, and he remained in this role until his retirement in 2001. In this position, he participated in the justification, equipment selection and commissioning of a number of key capital schemes with particular highlights — hot metal desulphurisation, new secondary steelmaking equipment and a new continuous casting plant. David was a key member of the technical management team and brought a depth of knowledge and experience that proved invaluable. He played a full part in a range of quality and environmental improvement and cost reduction activities. His expertise was widely recognised outside the UK and he frequently represented the company in technical discussions with other steelmakers. 

In my technical management role in the Electrical Steel industry, I had many meetings with David discussing steel specifications and plant capabilities. I always found him to be very knowledgeable and most helpful. One series of meetings led to a capital scheme being formalised and trials to manufacture high-grade electrical steels. 

One former colleague at Port Talbot Works remarked recently, ‘We still talk about him now as the man who really moved the steelmaking process on in British Steel in the 80s and 90s.’ Another commented on David’s excellent skills in encouraging and mentoring younger technologists.

Although he retired in 2001, the call of steel was still strong and he became a consultant with Corus Consulting for a few years. He carried out this work in various countries such as India, Pakistan, Canada, USA and Ukraine.

David was a regular attendee at the Newport and District Materials Society and in 2005 joined the committee taking on the key role of organising the society’s annual dinner at Marriott St Pierre. Thanks to his organisational skills, the dinner has been tremendously successful and has provided excellent networking opportunities in convivial surroundings. He organised the dinner for 11 years, the last being in 2016, when he shared the role with his successor due to his illness. He was an active committee member of the society and continued to attend meetings and lectures during his treatment. David was also a formidable competitor in the NDMS annual golf tournament and won on three occasions from 2008 - 2010.

David was a family man with a number of interests in retirement. He took part in weekly walks with a
local group, was a volunteer at a local stately home, was a community counsellor and always enjoyed playing the piano.

He leaves his wife Anne, daughter Claire and granddaughter Emilia.

David Barradell was a true gentleman, well liked and respected by all who knew him. He was a good friend and will be sorely missed.

Alan Coombs CEng FIMMM