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Report - Robert Fletcher & son Ltd, Greenfield, June '11

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by drhowser, Jun 16, 2011.

  1. drhowser

    drhowser Bespectacled & irrelevant
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    I'd been wanting to see inside Fletchers since seeing a picture of the old production floor at jST and KooK's exhibition in Leeds. Fast forward a few months to a remote hillside in the middle of the night, and there we are.
    Access is interesting to say the least, I had been warned that it's tight, but there has been a serious effort made to secure the buildings. A good proportion of the internal doors have been sealed and the buildings are used to train police dogs. we've made a deal that if we hear barking it's every man for himself up the nearest ladder...

    The history
    of Fletchers as a business can be traced back to 1829 and a company called Ralph Crompton & Nephews Bleachers and Papermakers in Stoneclough. A young Robert Fletcher began working there in 1830 and was quickly promoted, becoming bleaching dept manager and eventually manager of the whole operation.
    The last of the Cromptons, Roger, left Fletcher the principal trusteeship and the option of succeeding him in the company. On Crompton's death Fletcher did just this, building the business until his death in 1865 when it passed to his sons John and James Fletcher, who in turn passed it to their sons John Robert and James.
    In 1897 the busines was incorporated as a Ltd company, employing two hundred staff, eventually rising to around a thousand. The Stoneclough site had seven machines but produced a fraction of the eventual output of the three at Greenfield.

    The Greenfield factory opened in 1921 on a site where milling in one form or another can be traced back to 1780, producing first wool then cotton.
    Fletchers continued to be successful through to the late 1990's when increased pulp and energy costs combined with a financial downturn saw the business begin to struggle. In 1997 the turnover was around £17m with shareholders funds of £9m. By 1999 this had dropped to £8.2m and £4m respectively.
    To try to save the business the Stoneclough site was closed in 2000 with the loss of 120 jobs there but the production of 50 more at Greenfield.
    This wasn't enough to save Fletchers though, in July 2001 several creditors applied for a winding up order resulting in the overnight closure of the factory.




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    An old shot showing a pulping machine in operation
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    I can't begin to do justice to the scale of the main production floor, it's housed in a completely dark building the size of an aircraft hanger. The big roller is easily 5 feet in diameter, I'm standing 10 feet off the floor and at least a third of the machine is sunk into a pit below the floor.


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    Thanks as ever :thumb
     

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