North East Connected

Elfab’s history: From a disused canteen in North Shields to a thriving business over 70 years later

Elfab has strengthened its links to local history and heritage with a visit from two former directors: John Torday, the son of our company’s founder Laszlo Torday, and Sir Michael Carlisle, who formed a partnership with Torday’s company that later evolved into Elfab.

Laszlo Torday came to England from Hungary in the 1930s. He settled in North Shields and founded Torday Ltd, a chemical and electroplating company that provided much-needed employment for the region in the post-War years. The business initially operated from a disused canteen near the River Tyne, where the rent was £50 per year.

When John Torday took over running the business, it had diversified into manufacturing innovative nickel foils. John recognised the opportunities offered by using these foils for ‘rupture discs’, a safety product originally designed to protect pressurised gas containers and fire-fighting equipment. He formed a partnership with Sir Michael Carlisle’s company to set up several joint ventures, including one to manufacture rupture discs.

This venture proved lucrative, and under Torday and Carlisle’s entrepreneurial leadership, the company grew quickly, establishing sales offices in Switzerland, Oslo and Paris. The rupture disc joint venture was renamed Elfab, with offices and a manufacturing facility in West Chirton Industrial Estate, North Shields, where the company is still based today.

The visit from Torday and Carlisle reinforced Elfab’s heritage as a company whose growth was driven by based on entrepreneurialism, innovation and global outlook. The business currently has global sales offices in Italy, Poland, China and Singapore. This spirit of invention and customer focus lives on in Elfab today.

John Torday said: ‘I have so much enjoyed visiting Elfab and seeing how the company has grown. We were originally material scientists, but the company now is very clever at using advanced manufacturing techniques to create very precise, complex products.’

Sir Michael added, ‘It was a great experience to visit Elfab and to see how this company has successfully developed products that are so relevant to the high technical standards required for current industrial needs. I wish them every success in the future, and I hope they continue to build the business based on the creditable history of both the founding family companies.’

It was wonderful to be able to learn first-hand how the founding families’ expertise has enabled Elfab to become the successful business it is today, still based in North Shields but looking outward to a global market.

Sally Cowling, Marketing Manager at Elfab, commented: ‘We were delighted to welcome John Torday and Sir Michael Carlisle to see how Elfab has successfully developed the business that they both played a major role in. Their passion, enthusiasm and dedication to serve customers were clearly major factors contributing to the success of Elfab in the early days, and we continue to drive this ethos in the Elfab of today.’

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