Terylene proces worker with thread pattern, ICI Billingham, 1955.
© NMeM / Walter Nurnberg / Science & Society Picture Library
Terylene was the first wholly synthetic fibre to be invented in the UK and after it was fully launched in 1955 Terylene quickly found public favour as an alternative to wool and cotton fabric. Cloth made from Terylene kept its shape after washing and was very hardwearing, it was the most widely produced synthetic fibre. The vast ICI plants at Billingham and Wilton on Tees-side employed 30,000 people and were showcases of the new industrial Britain. ICI opened its huge chemical complex at Wilton on Tees-side in 1952 and this later became the main plant for Terylene production. Photograph by Walter Nurnberg who transformed industrial photography after WWII using film studio lighting techniques.