26
The Metal-working and Engineering Industries

The metal-working and engineering industries are of outstanding importance both as regards employment and value of output. In 1949-50 they employed over 182,000 people - more than 25 per cent of the total employed in industry and twice as many as the food industries (see Fig. 146), the next largest group - and yielded a net output of over £84 million, about one- quarter of the net industrial output (see Figs. 147 and 156). The vehicle industries employed a further 43,000 people and had a net output of over £20 million. This pre-eminence is, however, recent, the food industries being eclipsed as the leading group only in 1934, Prior to this date metal working and engineering activities were largely confined to service and repair work and to the manufacture of spare parts for mining equipment and of galvanized articles for the plumbing trade. Indeed of the total of 49,000 employed in these industries in 1933 nearly 17,000 were actually engaged in mine workshops and over 11,500 in railway workshops (Fig. 155). In most cases any actual manufacturing was on a jobbing basis and apart from small quantities of steel obtained from local steelworks on the Rand, iron, steel, and non-ferrous metals were imported.

Most metal-working and engineering industries depend on cheap iron and steel of the requisite quality and section, and hence their growth in South Africa, as in most countries, has hinged on the development of the iron and steel industry. Pig iron was first produced in Vereeniging and Newcastle in 1926; next year Stewarts and Lloyds began the manufacture of weldless steel tubes in the former centre, but it was not until after the establishment of the Iscor iron and steel works in Pretoria in 1934 that any large-scale developments were possible. The actual erection of the steelworks stimulated the structural engineering industry which extended its activities after the coming into operation of the plant.1 The fabrication of metal products and machinery followed. By 1939 the manufacture of iron and steel pipes and tubes, structural steelwork, wire fencing, and gates and wheelbarrows, none of which are exacting in their raw material requirements or

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