St Albans radiator firm brings warmth to Mexican prisoners

14:55 30 January 2011

Co-director Sara Moreton with an example of the colonial cast iron raditor which the Mexican prison bought.

Co-director Sara Moreton with an example of the colonial cast iron raditor which the Mexican prison bought.

Archant

IS SELLING radiators in an arid part of Mexico like flogging off fridges in the Arctic?

It appears not for one small St Albans firm of just three people who have just shipped close to 800 cast iron radiators to warm inmates of a prison being constructed in Juárez, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

Nick Duggan, co-director of Walney Radiators on Holywell Hill, described the unusual order as “a very interesting and exciting project to be involved with.”

The business, run with co-director Sara Moreton and Nick’s wife Caroline, was initially approached about two years ago, via its website.

Nick was stunned to learn that whereas he assumed the prison constructor wanted just a few radiators, the order quickly ballooned to about 800 of the “extremely heavy” cast iron heaters.

He said: “I was initially sceptical, but didn’t dismiss it out of hand. It is one of the biggest orders we have had.”

The order, a whopping 24 tonnes of radiators, has been shipped from a foundry in Turkey and arrived safely in Mexico last week.

The new prison is an initiative of the Municipal Government of Juárez to help reintegrate low risk inmates into society.

Juárez, located in the desert across the border from El Paso, Texas, has attracted the tag of being one of the most violent cities in the world as it has suffered a high number of drug-related murders.

However the Mexican federal government has initiated projects to help improve the city’s image and residents’ lives, by increasing employment, safety and education.

Although summer is hot in Juárez, winter can see the temperature plummet to 1C (34F).

According to Nick, the huge radiator order is a “positive” for St Albans’ business community, which he described as having an “eclectic range of suppliers.”

“We have also supplied radiators to St Paul’s Cathedral as part of their ongoing refurbishment project.

“There are some positive things happening in St Albans at a time when people are questioning the economy.

“Having the ability to sell and work outside the St Albans area and the UK does show that although we are a small company, we can appeal to a wider audience.”

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