Former colleagues keep in touch on web

Employees who lost their jobs when Hydro closed their engine casting plant in Leeds five years ago keep track of each other – on a website dedicated to the plant.

May 26, 2009

Hydro first proposed closing the U.K. casting plant in September 2003 because of lack or orders. The closure process ran over the course of 2004-2005.

By early 2006, the vast majority of the 612 employees who lost their jobs with Hydro had found new work.

Today, many former employees still keep in touch with each other on a website created to document the plant’s rich history and final closure.

Words and images

The website is named “Meltdown – Words and Images from a Yorkshire Foundry.”

It features photos and a “Poet’s Corner” with verses written by the employees, newspaper clippings about the plant, and some short clips from a film (there are just a few remaining DVDs of the film, which can be ordered on the website).

The Poet’s Corner is filled with the pride of a foundry man with “molten metal in my veins” and bitterness over a lost way of life, “an industrial failure.”

'Afterlives'

The most active page is “Afterlives,” where the former employees post comments and updates on what they’re up to.

Here’s a recent post from Bev & Mandy:

  • Subject: Night out needed soon
    Hi All. We think a night out and a get together is needed as it will be 5 years in Oct since we left Hydro! ... lets all get together soon and catch-up.

Phil Gardner writes of “The Good Old Days” and Mark Threlfall tells his old friends of “New start different industry.”

Heart and mind

Jürgen Mitchell, who spent a decade working at the plant, keeps the site updated.

“It’s a good thing,” he says. “I check it for comments every night, and filter out all the spam and junk. Like I wrote on the site, I’ve got my fingers at the ready.

“You get a place into your heart and mind. Old friends and colleagues can keep in touch. I quite believe in this.”

Other employees have moved on to other jobs and careers. Some have emigrated – to France, Australia, and elsewhere – while Mitchell has returned to truck driving.
 
Mitchell past by the plant site the other day. It’s looking a bit run down, he says, awaiting it’s fate. “I was one of the last to go,” he recalls. “Sad day, that.”

Though he is nearing a point where he can retire, he says he wants to keep busy: “I’ve always worked. If you sit and twiddle your thumbs, you’ll get into your box pretty quick,” he says with a laugh.


Updated: October 11, 2016