President’s Column “encouraged” all their new employees to join the IRE,

food and beverages accompanying local meetings were in abundance, social interaction after hours were quite acceptable by the members’ partners. However, a lot of this has changed, and as I am writing, it has been announced on the news that British Steel at Scunthorpe is hanging in the balance. 4000 jobs potentially affected, and this will certainly have a knock-on effect on the refractories industry.

For the institute to survive as an organisation it is important that it also changes with the times. There will always be a need for an organisation like the IRE, we just need to make it relevant to the times we live in. Now, some of us, especially those that bear a resemblance to the properties of refractory materials, and its stubbornness to change, may find this difficult. On the other side there are the “protesters” that see a different future and make it known when this process of change is too slow. One will always hear the protesters driving change, and they normally focus on the shortcomings to make a point (which they should do!). Unfortunately others just vote with their feet and leave, and this is what we need to prevent!

However, there are also the ones that believe in the purpose of the institute and still support it with their membership and

contributions. They are less audible and their message tends to get lost. The Executive Committee is trying to bring along the right type of change, but it is also important that the values of the past are not left behind. It would be fantastic if members could share their positive experiences with the committee. Best way is to put a letter in the post or email us, or just talk about it. You will find the contact details on the back page of the journal. There is also the website, however, this may be more complicated and I have also seen that you can leave messages on the Facebook page. Not even been aware of this!

I started exploring part of the IRE history and found it quite fascinating. Much of this information is locked up in very old journals, or in the memories of the longer living members, and then of course parts may be lost for ever as some of our members passed away. Questions have been raised about the IRE logo and it is interesting that the original logo started off as a brick and trowel inside a seal, such as is found on a diploma. It was changed at a date yet unknown to me at apparently a great cost to our current logo and represents a coat of arms. Indeed a very English (European) custom, originating from medieval times where a knight will have it on his shield to identify his achievements. Later is was used to identify churches and towns and eventually Universities and companies. It generally is closely regulated and many have been trademarked.

A Coat of Arms consists of different parts; the Motto, the Crest, the Shield and the Supporters. The IRE Coat of Arms does not have a Motto or Supporters (parts next to the Shield), however, technically the IRE inscription could have been placed at the top and the banner could have been inscribed with a fancy Latin motto. The Crest is supposed to identify an achievement of the owner of the arms and in our case it is a knight’s helmet signifying the protection against flames. The Shield consists of a trowel on a scroll, representing the trained bricklayer. On the left side is a microscope which signifies the research and technological aspect of the refractories

profession, supporting the

practical right hand side. The line through the bottom part is a mystery and my only thoughts are that if signifies the design of a lining with expansion gaps or maybe a ruler signifying dimensions? The significance of the colours red and blue may well be interpreted as the hot face and cold face of a refractory lining? The three dots in the centre are also unknown, but hopefully with a bit more digging I will be able to reveal all the secrets of the past to you.

Jan DuPlessis Theron President

Institute of Refractories Engineers 4 ENGINEER THE REFRACTORIES May 2019 Issue

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