Inside Wm Lee Castings, Dronfield



For 12 years we have lived in Dronfield and it's an amazing place to be. It is so close to the Peak District, as well as the city of Sheffield. There are many green spaces to visit locally. We are really fortunate to be able to walk to a brilliant park called Cliffe Park.

This park has a wonderful green space, tennis courts, mini golf course, bowling green, cafe, sand-pit and park. The park is used all year round but in the summer there are always new friends to be made and old friends to catch up with.

The reason I have mentioned the park is that in the 12 years of visiting we have often heard the clanking, banging and crashing emanating from the building opposite. For the past 100 years Wm Lee Castings has been as much a part of Dronfield as the river Drone itself.


Competition time

So, when we heard about the competition Wm Lee were holding to name their 8 robots we knew we had to give it a go.

The company were asking all the children of Dronfield to name the robots. The winners would be chosen and the robots would then be given their names. After which the children and their families would be given to opportunity to see their robot working at the foundry... this is a place that I have always been fascinated with. I know generally what a foundry does. I am aware that this area we are in has a long history of forges, foundries and steel but I never thought I would get the opportunity to see inside a factory with such a long history.


Double Winner!

Both of my children entered the competition... and amazingly both of their names were chosen.

As promised we were asked to attend a ceremony at the foundry where the children received a certificate and got to see their robots in action.

We were all so excited, we had a look on the Wm Lee website at the robots, and learnt a little more about the company. Currently there are 4 working foundries on the sites at Callywhite lane, Dronfield. They supply castings for companies all over the world. Above you can see some of them. The first picture is part of the pipe from a Mercedes truck, and the large picture at the bottom is a component from its engine. (I'm so sorry I can't remember what the other two pieces were but they were very impressive!)


Safety First

After a safety briefing and donning our safety glasses and high vis jackets we set off into the foundry. Being a Friday afternoon there were fewer people than normal. Wm Lee employ around 420 local people, a number which swelled after the introduction of the 8 robots. As productivity increased, more orders were being filled therefore the workforce needed to expand.


Above you can see the robots each working separately on a particular piece before it is sent along the conveyor belt into the box ready for checking.

To the side, here is the MD Toni Carannante explaining the process to the children.


Robot Names

I'm sure by now you are all wondering what names were chosen for the robots...

I will keep you in suspense no longer.

In no particular order...

  1. Will I Am Lee.
  2. Sparky
  3. Jeff
  4. Warrior
  5. Dronny 5
  6. Barney
  7. Cliffe (my son's choice as they are opposite Cliffe park.)
  8. Buddy (my daughter's choice as it is what she calls her Dad.)

Congratulations to all of the winners, some fabulously funny, cute and creative names were chosen!

My children were particularly moved when Toni explained that now the robots have those names forever. When people work on a particular line, they will know they are on the Buddy line or the Cliffe line. It really is something rather special to be a part of!

The company may be looking to install more robots in the future... so watch out for further news.

There could be another competition on the cards and you could have the same fantastic opportunity that we had.

Thanks again for a wonderful experience Wm Lee.



I hope that you have enjoyed finding out about Wm Lee and its robots as much as I have. Thanks also goes to Mike Firth of The Dronfield Eye for their continued support within the community of Dronfield.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, have a look at some of the other places both near and far that I have written about.

You can comment on my blog or even follow me here and see where I go next! I look Forward to hearing from you. Derbyshireduckie!

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