Foundry children’s happy memories
CHRISTOPHER and Carmel Sleeman want to share this picture of a children’s party held in the canteen of the old Ford Foundry, around 1953.
Chris reckons he must have been six or seven when the snap was taken - he’s the boy on the left next to the one wearing the cap and spectacles.
Now aged 65 he still remembers the excitement of those annual Christmas parties for the children of thousands of employees.
Carmel, whose Irish family moved to Leamington from County Mayo when she was young, started attending the same parties when she was ten - although back in the fifties she didn’t know her future husband was sitting at the same trestle table, grabbing all the cake and blancmange.
The original Imperial Foundry, known to everyone as Ford’s, made engine castings for the cars being assembled at Dagenham in Essex. It was still manufacturing brake discs and gear components right up until it closed, in July 2007.
By that time the Leamington workfoce was just 350.
It was a long time since thousands listened to Workers’ Playtime in their lunch hour, when the children’s weekly swimming club and the annual Christmas party were considered great staff perks.
Understandably, Chris and Carmel are watching the re-development of the site off Old Warwick Road with some feelings of nostalgia.
Land-owners Trilogy have flattened the buildings - once also occupied by Leamington cooker manufacturer Sidney Flavel after the success of his ‘Kitchener’ oven made his Eagle Foundry too small.
Trilogy are already well on the way to the development of a multi-million pound supermarket, hotel and office complex.
Chris was an accountant during his working life and he and Carmel now live in Coventry Road, Warwick.
He said: “My late father Sydney, who died in 1993, was on the maintenance team at Ford for more than 30 years while Carmel’s dad, Mick Cunniffe, who died in 1962, worked there on permanent nights making the castings. It must have been 24 hour production.”
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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