Made in Lavenham

Made in Lavenham

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Machinery in the Aerosol Factory ('The Station')...

There were two separate belts, one large and one small. Buttons dotted along the length of the line allowed you to stop the entire belt if there was a problem.

The larger line had pallets of empty tins at the start, which one girl had to put onto a revolving table. The tins then travelled along a narrow belt where another girl/s would insert the valves. The tins would then go through a pressure chamber and then past a set of scales. Next they’d travel through a deep tank of hot water before they went into the ovens. Out the other end was where caps were put on by hand (and little red adapters for lighter fuel). Then the packers would put a dozen in each box before sending them down to the glue machine…. where some unfortunate girl would oversee the sticky bits and load the closed boxes onto pallets.

The smaller line was situated along the back wall and was far more cramped to work on, but had an identical set-up in regards to loading tins, inserting valves and so on.

When on the job ‘tins’ the task would be to attempt to use all 10 fingers and thumbs to pick up the tins and place them onto a turntable, or the static area adjacent to the turntable. Tall hairspray cans were a nightmare as they kept falling over, and once one went down they all fell like dominoes. Also, the tins arrived on wooden pallets, and between each layer was a large, heavy piece of cardboard. Every time you lifted a piece of cardboard off several tins would fall off the edge of the layer onto the floor and need to be picked up (as fast as you could to ensure the tins on the turntable did not run out).

The tins would rotate from the turntable along a narrow belt, where machinery would fill them. If you were clumsy when inserting the valves you could end up knocking the tins over and get the contents in your lap. Hairspray was particularly sticky when spilled. After having valves inserted the tins would pass through a protected area to be pressurised. The manager (Mr Pye) was the only person with permission to go into the pressurised area (possibly with the exception of Stephen the fitter) as this was potentially dangerous .

Out the other side, the belt took a left turn and took the tins past the girl on ‘weighing’ who would have to weigh at least one in eight tins to ensure they were not empty.

Past the weighing scales the tins would take another left turn and travel through a tank of hot, deep water. The girl on ‘tank’ would have a set of tongs, and if she spotted any air bubbles coming from any tins she would grab them out of the tank and put them into a nearby plastic tub.

Next was the hot oven, and once through that the tins would pass the girl/s on ‘caps’. Some caps snapped on easily but others were so tight you would need to press down hard with the palm of your hand. After an hour or so your hand would really hurt. The plastic caps were emptied into two large wooden hoppers, one either side of the belt.

Then the packer/s would gather up a dozen tins and box them, shoving them down some rollers to the glue machine. The end task fell to the girl on ‘boxes’ who would have to make up the boxes for the packers, ensure the glue machine was not jammed, take the sealed boxes and stack them onto a pallet and run around looking for the fork lift driver (Jasper) to take away the full pallets.

Below are some screen shots I took from google streetview in Feb 2013.

They show factory units on the site where The Station was, and look quite similar to how I remember it…

On Ebay there was this listing:
Disused Railway Station at Lavenham, Suffolk.
May 1973 Photograph, showing the disused railway station at Lavenham, Suffolk, with factories to the rear.
The station passed into disuse in 1965.

As you can see, they are copyrighted to a company named “Ephemeral Treasures”.

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