The offices had their fair share of changes; the Main Offices had been the works canteen when I started. But, with the shrinking workforce, one canteen was sufficient for all employees. As a result, it was transformed into a large open plan area with PCs and workstations in all sections. Apart from the lack of natural light, not having a window in sight, it was considered more practical than the wooden huts which had been the home for Design, DO and Spares + Repairs. I liked the wooden huts, but I did not have to work there full time. I only came up to pass test results to Design and to use the Photocopier (one of the few in the company at that time), and at the same time have a quick chat with the girls in the office.
The huts were situated at the top end of the site near the staff canteen; they were old, creaky and damp with very little space to move around. They were very cold in winter, hot in summer and you would always find a strategically placed wastepaper bin for when the rain came through the roof. Just outside the wooden huts was "The Ring" the famous sculpture by the eminent sculptor, Austin Wright. Like all art, you either like it or you dont. I used it as a conversation piece with Client Inspectors. Some visitors did not talk much, but nearly all of them would say - "Whats that? - as we walked up from reception. This would always break the ice and by the time we got to the Test Bed we would be chatting away like old friends. This made the motor inspections much easier. I often wonder what happened to the Ring after the demolition work started.
Every year Park Works employees were given the opportunity to be blood donors. On the Test Bed we had Jimmy Dalton who had given blood for years. In fact, he would have given it out of both arms at the same time if they had let him. He encouraged the young trainees to volunteer.
So, Ian Dawson, myself, and my good friend John Ludlam bravely - if not a little nervously - went to donate. Ian went in first, but as he was giving blood he felt sick. So the nurses stopped taking blood to let him recover.
My turn came and they took a sample from my earlobe and then started on my arm. After only 30 seconds I noticed my shoulder was quite wet, I got the nurses attention and she found out that I had more blood coming from my ear than my arm. It was at this point that I promptly fell over. Johns turn came and you would think third time lucky, but not here. Johns arm resembled a pin-cushion as the nurse tried in vain to get the needle in. She eventually succeeded but the blood came out so slowly it didnt reach the bottom of the tube before congealing.
The nurses gave up on us. We had our cup of tea and a biscuit before being sent back to work. Apart from us there were a great many people at Park Works who generously gave blood every year. The Blood Donor Service was always grateful for their donations.
Mather + Platt being an international Company, always had a constant supply of foreign students and guests who spent time at Park Works gaining practical working experience. The Test Bed played host to most of these visitors. They were all made welcome and I hope went away with a good impression of our department.
One of these visitors was a man called Kuk from Hong Kong, who while working with us, gave the Chinese meaning to all our names. We had Valiant Warrior, Brave Leader and Honest Worker. Everyone had grand titles until it was my turn, when Kuk was not very forthcoming. At last after some coaxing he explained my name meant Horse Droppings in a Field. Not the most flattering of names but at least it gave everyone a good laugh.
Social life at Park Works was always very good. There were activities and clubs to join for all tastes, there were discos and race nights, Gala Days (always popular), as well as the childrens days out and parties. These activities helped to bond the workforce together. Many friendships were formed and some of these friendships developed further. There were many people who met their husbands and wives at Mather + Platt, myself included. My wife started her working life as an Office Junior in the drawing office. Diane has moved on to greater things since then, she is now Commercial Manager for Teco Europe, but still has fond memories of here time at Park Works and always enjoys get-togethers with old colleagues.
Sporting activities were always encouraged with a gymnasium, cricket pitch and football pitch, which was one of the best in the area. It was so good that Oldham Athletic in their most successful period used the pitch for training. Andy Woodcock and myself went out to watch and ended up having a quick kick-about with a couple of Oldhams stars. That season Oldham went on to play at Wembley. I like to think we played a small part in their success.
At one time marathon running became very popular. You could always see staff training hard round Park Works. I remember watching Eric Longdin and Alec Prescott come round the corner looking in good condition, but just behind them came Ray Stell, a mass of heaving flesh and sweat in an extra large vest, a frightening sight!
All three went on to do a marathon, although I think Rays time was the slowest on record, but he did finish and proudly displayed his medal. His success encouraged others to get the training shoes on and do a marathon, including, from the Test Bed, Steve Worral and myself.
Lowrys painting of Mather + Platt is well known, and many long serving employees have been presented with a print.
What might not be as well known was that we had an artist in our midst in Dr. David Searle. He was Chief Electrical Design Engineer in the later years, and among his many talents was painting. His painting of Mather + Platt shows 5 Bay Electrical Section. If you look closely you can even recognise members of the workforce.
When the end of Park Works finally arrived it was an emotional time for all. Shock, anger and panic were all there. Some said they had expected it for years, older workers were glad to finish and get a redundancy payment; but the greatest feeling felt by everyone was sadness.
We all knew that something special was coming to an end. The workforce slowly began to dwindle until at the end there were just a handful of people left to finish the last motors and pumps.
The last pump (see the final pages of this series) was a multi-stage submersible set. We were so short of staff to test it that Mathie Wallace had to come down from Scotland to help out.
On the electrical side the last motor to be built and tested (see the final pages of this series) was a 3300 Volt 1350 kW 2 Pole motor for Bu Hasa. After that the demolition teams moved in to strip and then flatten the site. All the Bays and the famous tower have now gone. All that is left is a small office and the foundry, which is still going strong. Wormald are based at the end of Grimshaw Lane and WES moved to Northwich.
With the mass redundancy, the workforce went in all directions. Some moved out of engineering altogether, while others moved on to other motor and pump companies. I now work at Morley Electric Motors in Pudsey, near Leeds. Morley has had close links with Mather + Platt for many years and now employs a long list of ex-Mather + Platt staff who have brought a wealth of experience and skills with them. There are so many Ex-Mathers men at Morley and Sulzer Pumps (Leeds) that we have jokingly been called Mather + Platt Yorkshire Division.
Parks Works made a big impression on my life. It was there that I grew up and made life-long friends. I learnt skills there that I am now passing on to other engineers and I never need too much encouragement to regale people with stories of those I have known, and to tell of my memories of Mather + Platt!