Sunderland factory memories - and we want more recollections of this former workplace

We are heading back through the decades for your memories of a factory which employed generations of Sunderland workers.

Friday, 28th January 2022, 4:09 pm

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Bridon Fibres, which was also previously known as British Ropes, got the attention of followers of the Wearside Echoes page on social media.

Linda Hall said her father used to work there while Micky Seery said his father Tony Seery ‘worked there as a wagon driver’.

Bridon Fibres in Sunderland.

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But when his father started at the plant it was known as British Ropes.

Alyson Coates said her brother ‘worked there and my hubby still works for the Company, Bridon-Bekeaert.”

Brian Houghton commented: “I was working at Roker Caravans in 1977 it was on the old railway sidings behind Young’s garage.”

Thanks to Brian and also to Diane Bradwell who reminisced: “My Mam, Ann Simpson was a cleaner in the canteen, working 5pm-10pm.”

Bridon Fibres - formerly known as British Ropes Ltd - pictured in September 1977.

John Jameson was another to share a comment and he said: “My Grandad worked there his entire working life when it was British Ropes.”

Mavis Gates said: “My cousin Richard Bulmer worked there he was an electrician.”

Bridon Fibres and Plastics announced in 1980 that it was to close its Sunderland factory, bringing an end to a 120-year history of rope making on Wearside.

The closure, which put 35 people on the dole, came after the company reported a rapid rundown in trading conditions which had given them no option but to shut up shop on Wearside.

Another 1977 view of the factory.

Henry Wilkinson, district secretary of the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers back in 1980, said at the time that the closure was ‘yet another requiem for Sunderland’.

Did you, or a relative of yours, work at the plant? Tell us more.

To give you a further reminder of the era, it was the year when another local landmark announced its closure.

Lambton animal park - which had opened in 1972 - was to close because of rising costs’ and the general economic situation.

The demolition of Bridon Fibres in November 1982.

To share your own memories of 1980, email [email protected]

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