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A window on to working life in city's giant factory

PUBLISHED: 09:00 08 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:18 02 July 2010

Factory life: A look inside the factory during the 1980s. That’s Moria Howard (left) and Mary Knox working together.

Factory life: A look inside the factory during the 1980s. That's Moria Howard (left) and Mary Knox working together.

Derek James

From some of the biggest machinery in the world to the humble window frame - thanks for all your memories of working at the giant Boulton & Paul factory which played such a leading role in Norwich and Norfolk life for almost 200 years.

Derek James

From some of the biggest machinery in the world to the humble window frame - thanks for all your memories of working at the giant Boulton & Paul factory which played such a leading role in Norwich and Norfolk life for almost 200 years.

Then they were the aircraft and the giant airships in the 1920s and 30s.

My stories about the factory following the news that Jeld Wen, the company which took it over, was closing its Lowestoft plant with the loss of 194 jobs, struck a chord with so many people.

The range of top class products produced by B&P at its giant Riverside Works in Norwich and other factories was astonishing…the company was a pioneering world beater which gave generations of skilled men and women work.

I told the story of Jumbo, the enormous piece of machinery which cut and drilled steel girders, and had eager customers all over the globe.

Among those who worked on it were Lenny Aldridge and Ray Pease. They told me all about “Jumbo” and others who remembered it included Betty Riches whose father maintenance electrician Jack Hall, who spent 50 years at B&P, worked on it along with his brothers Leslie, Fred, Harold and Dick.

“Your story brought a lot of memories. My dad was always talking about Jumbo. It was good to see the pictures,” said Betty.

I also heard from Moria Howard of Sprowston who spent more than 30 years working at B&P and was the last women to be working in the factory itself.

“I started working in the paint shop, priming window frames by brush until they installed a mechanical dip,” she recalled.

“I was then transferred to working on the carpentry side, fixing handles and stays on the frames first by screwdriver and then with an air-line gun which was much easier,” said Moira.

“After that I was put on making sashes for the window frames, working with Mary Knox on the manual assembly plant. After Mary left I was the last women to working in the factory and was put to work on a vertical cramp, making the sashes and I was there until the factory closed,” she added.

And does she still do a spot of painting around the house when needs must? “Oh yes, I can still paint a window,” she laughed.

Don't miss more stories about B&P and the people who worked there coming up next week.

Did You Know?

On this day in 1800 the first soup kitchens for the poor of London opened.

On this day in 1815 the British, led by General Sir Edward Pakenham, were defeated at New Orleans in the last battle Britain fought against the US.

On this day in 1831 Bell's New Weekly Messenger published the first cartoon to appear in an English newspaper.

On this day in 1935 Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, the survivor of twin boys.

On this day in 1940 sugar, bacon and butter were rationed in Britain.

On this day in 1989 a British Midland 737 crashed into an embankment along the MI near Kegworth, Leicestershire, killing 47 people.

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