A 53-year-old steelwork specialist has called in the administrators after its annual turnover plummeted by 50 per cent.

Rossendale’s James Killelea and Co was closed on Friday, with a former employee saying staff turned up to work on October 13 and couldn’t get in the building.

James Killelea and Co, based in Stoneholme Road, Crawshawbooth, has been in business since 1970 providing structural engineering services including 3D building design, structural steel fabrication and erection.

In a financial statement for the year ending May 2022, the firm recorded a turnover of £11.4m, which was a decrease of 50 per cent from 2021.

The company also generated a pre-tax loss of £772,000 for the year to May 2022.

Recently, the firm has worked on projects including Bury College, Tarleton College, apartment blocks in Manchester and industrial units in Liverpool, Knowsley and Rotherham.

It has also worked on the £20m Luton Airport car park, which made headlines last week after it caught fire.

Posting on LinkedIn earlier this week, several employees had been advertising the fact they were now seeking new roles following news that the company had folded.

One person said: “Very sad news to hear of major established north west steel company James Killelea going into administration.”

Another added: "Really sad news to share today as James Killelea & Co Ltd file for administration.”

And one user offered an olive branch to staff left without a job, saying: “Having heard the sad news of James Killelea & Co Ltd I would like to offer their workforce the opportunity to join us Elland Steel in Halifax.

"We currently have several vacancies for all areas of the business.”

It is believed administrators Leonard Curtis Recovery Limited are dealing with the administration process. Leonard Curtis has been contacted for comment.

A spokesperson for James Killelea and Co, which is believed to have employed around 92 staff, said: "It is with great sadness that we announce the closure of James Killelea & Co. Ltd.

"The company had enjoyed 53 years of uninterrupted trading to become a major supplier throughout the UK of numerous steel framed structures for a wide range of sectors such as, stadia, commercial, retail, transport, industrial and warehousing.

"We have been privileged to assist in the building of the infrastructure of our country and this could only have been possible with the talent and dedication of our loyal staff, many of whom we had drawn from our local community. None of what we have achieved would have been possible without them.

"However, the business whilst operating within a highly competitive industry has been severely financially affected by the impact of Covid, fluctuating markets, escalating material prices and rising energy costs.

"The current downturn in the construction industry has resulted in this unfortunate situation and despite the best efforts of the directors to rectify matters administration was the only option.

"It is with a heavy heart and great regret that this decision was taken, and we take this opportunity to thank all our staff, past and present for the commitment they have shown whilst in our employment and we wish them the very best for their future."

Rossendale Council leader, Councillor Alyson Barnes has also been contacted for comment.

The steel fabrication firm was founded in 1970 by James Killelea and his son Robert.

Robert, aged 79, served as the firm's managing director, and his brother Patrick, 68, joined the family business some time later as the financial director, and Ellen Killelea worked as the company secretary.