Lesney's Matchbox Factory (2)

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Part 2 of article

Mave Sipple

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Lesney Products was named after its two founders Leslie and Rodney Smith (they were unrelated). The company was started as an industrial die-casting company in 1947.

Lesneys took over the old Ekco buildings in Sweynes Estate, Ashingdon. The factory was working all day and night, special buses brought workers from Shoebury, Southend and Rayleigh. Many women were able to take part-time shift work to supplement their income.

At one time, the company employed over 2000 people. The company wanted to build a road around the estate but locals complained, as they did not want huge lorries lumbering passed their houses.

When business began to wane, the company changed the name to Matchbox. Matchbox cars became hugely popular, but the company was again in trouble, and many people lost their jobs when the company finally took their business to China.

Until the early 80s Lesneys was one of the most important employers in the area. Sadly the factory was forced to close and a housing estate was built on the site.

View part 1 of Mave's article

View David Murphy's article

This page was added by Mave Sipple on 13/03/2013.
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I worked there from 1978 to 1988. I remember Les Miles, I knew his son Paul from school, he was a plastics dept troubleshooter. I also knew Bridie, a lovely lady, her son in law was Dick Chapman a setter on kingsize assembly.

Hi Brian, hope you're well mate. Do you still drink in the Golden Lion? And Freddie Williams. All these names are like a trip back in time. Steve Lapwood who I speak to on the internet regularly. Anyone remember me? Send me a line. All the best Mark

By Mark Wilson
On 07/10/2017

I was wondering if anyone remembers my mum? I'm sure she worked at Matchbox when I was a kid and I remember her bringing me home a fire engine one day. The rest of my family don't remember this. Her name was Valery Scotton or Valery Ewers before she married my late dad. Would be great to find out.

By Philip Scotton
On 05/09/2017

Hi Shaun, yes I remember Les Miles. I think he had some authority in the technical/maintenance area in the plastics department at Rochford. Would often see him walking through the dept. His daughter (perhaps your mum?) worked there for a while as a teenager, I think her name was Anita? Ring any bells?

Tony.

By Tony Hart
On 19/08/2017

Hi, my grandad worked at Hackney and Rochford his name was Les Miles does any one remember him?

By Shaun Miles
On 22/04/2017

Hi yes its me Taz, alive and kicking, living in Hockley Essex married Chris from Lesney's

Thanks for responding so quickly to my email Taz - Anthony Hart would like to get in touch with anyone who remembers him. Use the email link I sent you if you would like to get in touch with him directly - Regards, Bob Stephen (RDCA Admin)

By Taz
On 19/03/2017

My name is Tony, I worked at Lesney's in Rochford for 10 years - 2 spells. I first started as an 18 year old on nights in summer 1971 - went onto days early '73. I left in 1977 then went back a couple of years later. The first period was definitely the better one. I was a 'powderman'/porter in the plastics department. It wasn't all plain sailing and the pay wasn't very good - had to do loads of overtime to make a decent wage, I remember the 3 day week, that was pretty tough - but it was mostly good, albeit from a nostalgic point of view. I remember the social events, Christmas parties and discos in the canteen and at Lee Con. I made a number of friends, even dated a few girls. I could reel off a list of names I remember. There's comments from two people below that ring a bell. Taz, I remember a tool setter in the plastics dept with that name in the early '70s, you'd previously lived in Tazmania, hence the nickname and I think you smoked roll-ups. Is this you? - must be, surely. And Brian Cook, I remember that name well. Yes you were a chargehand, white coat with green collar and cuffs. I think you had a moustache and were a very mild mannered nice guy. I long ago lost contact with everyone but wonder from time to time what became of them all. Would love to hear from anyone who remembers me!

By Anthony Hart
On 18/03/2017

I started work there 1970 before my 21st birthday, met my wife there, and it was like a family we all worked together, good times.

By Taz
On 15/01/2017

I started work at Lesney week ending 17/11/78 and left 14/9/79. My Clock No was KA142.

Started in Packing, then went on various machinery making toy parts. Last Dept was King Size.

By Lynne Taylor
On 14/12/2016

I was a chargehand at the Rochford factory and also played for the very succesfull football team. I worked there for ten years approx. and loved every minute.

By Brian Cook
On 28/07/2016

I have fond memories of the Lesney factory. I worked there as as a young teenager around about 1980.  I started in the moulding shop packing the plastic mouldings as they came out of the machines.  As a beginner I struggled to keep up with one machine while most of the women easily managed 2!  I eventually moved into the foundry keeping the women supplied with new castings for them to sort and pack.  My boss used to take me down to the pub in Rochford at dinner time, which was great as I couldn't be late back lol.  Happy days!

By Adrian English
On 15/02/2015

Hello just looking up the history of Match Box. My neighbour told me she used to work there in Rochford. Does anyone remember her? Her name is Nita Emmones.

By Maxine Sinclair
On 09/02/2015

"que hermoso lugar, me apasionan las historias de matchbox"

Hello, I wanted to say that I love all the stories about matchbox. I like anything that has to do with these stories. I have beautiful memories of my childhood playing with matchbox vehicles. I'm currently a collector. I would like to hear more stories from people who worked there. Thank for all the happiness you have given me. Greetings, Guillermo from Argentina.

By Guillermo Oscar Sanchez
On 04/06/2014

Hi, I'm hoping that if I say the name Bridie (Bridget) Preston someone will remember my nan. She worked here from the day it opened to the day it shut. When I was a little girl I use to wait at the gates for her sometimes with a dog. She loved working there. Such a shame it went.

By Jo Boosey
On 11/03/2014

I worked at Lesney in Rochford in the late 70s. The bus picked us up in Great Wakering. I remember attaching wheels to chassis as well but first I learnt to attach the wheels to wire. I remember the machines kept jamming. I couldn't keep up and had to turn the machine off periodically to catch up! As I left after my shift I used to buy geraniums from a fellow worker selling them outside and give them to my mother in law.

By Viv Bailleux
On 12/02/2014

My name is Shirley Horwood (nee Cohen), and I worked at Lesney in Rochford from 1972 until 1974.  They had free buses that picked up the workers at various bus stops and took us back again after work. There was another lady named Shirley Adlam, who started working the same day as I did, and we became good friends.  (She unfortunately passed away a few years ago). She worked there for a long time.

We started in the Hand Assembly Department, and worked our way up to the Hot Stamping Department, where we were in charge of 3 machines each.

If you require further info, please don't hesitate to contact me.

By Shirley Horwood
On 14/01/2014

I used to work for Lesney's in Hackney and have many happy memories from there. I worked there for 6 years and can say that they were the best six years of my life. Would love to know where everyone is now but alas I would be sure that a lot have past on.

By Thomas
On 31/12/2013

I used to work there as a bus driver. If there is anyone else out there please get in touch.

By Mr F W Williams
On 18/09/2013

I remember Lesneys/Matchbox as my neighbour worked at the factory. My wife used to have 'Outwork' which entailed fixing the wire wheels to the chassis of the model cars. We used to have boxes of part assembled cars all over the place but it brought in a bit of well needed income at the time.

By Len Bickford
On 16/03/2013
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