Comments in Oral interviews

Comments concerning the Bacon Factory, from the Oral interview recordings

George Russell: Percy Finch moved into Bert’s old house; he worked at the Bacon Factory.
The footpath to the factory was between 18 and 19.
B.Bacon Factory: Started in 1911 as a farmer’s co-operative and for many years the largest employer in the area.
I was lucky in finding short term work, painting council houses, strawberry picking, carrot hoeing, etc. then in 1932 I got a full time job in the curing cellars at the Bacon Factory.
Thinking about the Bacon Factory reminded me of the hooter, a clock for the surrounding villages, depending on which way the wind was blowing and the smell which wafted over the countryside around the village. 15 Hawk End Lane, which was the home of Charlie Clarke, a plate layer on the railway – he lived next door to (16) Ann Curtis, a single lady who had a lodger, usually someone who worked at the Bacon Factory.
Bob Manning worked for Woolnough (farmer); his sister Rosie (at one time postwoman) lived there too with her husband Freddie Rice, who was a van salesman at the Bacon Factory.
Time: During my early school days and before wireless, Elmswell people relied on the trains to tell the time – they ran to time then! – also the Bacon Factory hooter was a time signal for Elmswell and the surrounding villages.
We eventually raised enough money to build a scout hut, erected just inside the Bacon Factory property, where Mr Henderson was the accountant.

Billy Farrow: Then bacon factory for nearly 40 years – felt lost at first, didn’t eat for a week (meat smell, and indoors) then pulled himself together.
37 years full-time + 2 part-time
Then accountant at bacon offered him a job: tidied himself up and went to the manager – start tomorrow morning.
Farmers cooperative: buy pigs in and slaughter, sausages and pies, not much wasted – even the bristles were dried off and sent to a brush factory.
Blood and bone boiled and ground into blood meal and bone meal.
First job in cold cellars in curing section; later years in scolding tub, 5-6 pigs; Wiltshire system of curing bacon, no Suffolk cure – cured it green then put it in the smokehouse.
Did a lot of hams and chaps, brook? cheeses,
After he slipped and got a hernia he was off work for a while, and went back to lighter work slicing in the pre-pack dept.
Then transferred to cookhouse and cooked 300-400 hams a day, went to customers all over the country.
Used to sing at work… gang in the slaughterhouse – not these days, scrapping for bonuses
7:30 am to 5:15pm wdays and to 12noon on Sat.

Ella Kinsey: That Farrow (Billy) worked at the bacon factory.
Hanson, manager of the bacon factory (football photo)

Ray Eyres: Then to the Bacon Factory (before the war), fitter and electrician for 38 years.
Volunteered in 1940; went to Ipswich 3 times, but when he told them he worked in a bacon factory they said “Reseved Occupation, you’re doing more good there” and wouldn’t take him on.
Bacon Factory paid him 5s/week retainer through the 5 years, but afterwards he didn’t really want to go back to it.
2½ years in Belgium came back and built the house and then to the Labour Exchange, who said the Bacon Factory had been asking after him. So back he went.
They hired another electrician (this was many years later) and after a year RE found this guy was getting more money because he was in the union.
The foreman refused to up RE’s pay, so he went and joined the EEPTU too.
But when he confronted the foreman again, they fired him!
Grandmother lived in a thatched house in Hawk End lane; Pye’s timber yard was on the other side of the railway, and the Bacon factory just beyond that.
Didn’t electrocute pigs, just hang them up by the back legs and stick them with a knife; could hear the pigs screaming all day long.
Later electrical stunner more humane.
(Shows me a leaflet on th Bacon Factory – see website).

May Fox: Mother met him there as she also worked there; he was at BF a long time, then…
Father struck by lightning when May was 8, ball of fire thro factory roof; partially blinded, knocked him to the floor; had to have oil lamps shaded
Coal and wood for fuel; father Thomas Welham swept chimneys when first came from Lavenham -sent to Bacon Factory in WW1 because he was turned down for the army – weak heart

Dot & John Redit: Fullers lived in the thatched cott, Albert (‘Rawcher’), worked at the bacon, lived with mother till married; came over to {deal with cutting up their pig??}
Joan (née Collage?) Scase worked at the bacon, husband John worked at the station

Dot & John Redit: John: when working at the bacon, used to cross the meadow and King’s garden and across the rly.

Fred and Cicely Buckle: Office boy job came up at the bacon, better money; brother was in accounts @ Finboro hall, he hoped to get in same trade
Boss at bacon was a scot (James/Jock Henderson), ran the scouts, wife ran the cubs – no girls then
When war started, 2 or 3 in the office were terriers and just went, left us short, I got promoted.
Home Guard set up, JH in charge and I had to do more work for the HG than the bacon. (he was Pyke to JH’s Mannering (Dad’s Army)
After the war Fred could have gone back to the baconfac – job had to be kept open – but after the outdoor existence of the Royal Navy he couldn’t stand the idea of back to an office.
Cicely first looked after daughter 18 months, then in shop as well, then war so had to do something more important – bacon factory rather than forces – didn’t like to go away from home.
She worked at the bacon until daughter born.
Were paid cash on Saturdays at the last minute, C started on 5s; but bacon Fri night was pay night, went with my govnor, envelopes in trays.
Bacon Fact was run by a Dane, Andriesson. Started in 1912, owned by shareholders, run for the farmers who supplied the pigs.
It was Andr and Henderson he was hauled in front of for ticking off: lot o things – (not specified). Thinks about 100 on the payroll when he did wages,…
… 7 in the office, factory office had 3, two vans went out delivering; a lot of stuff went out bulk by rly – hand-cart to put stuff on the passenger trains
shunting horses moved the trucks and they hitched them to the back of the Passenger train which came in at 5pm
Smaller packages (sausages, pork pies, wonderful range….) went to the station on the hand-cart, into goods van in boxes.
All traffic (at going-home time) waiting at the gates while they hitched up…. swearing at the signalman
Once a year the factory had a pig show in their field, where the first factory house was built; finished with the war – govt took over the factory…
Turned it into an abbatoir, one day sheep, next pigs,….

JeanFolkard: George Cousins lived in one of the factory houses;
manager, Jane Andriesson (schoolmate), Julie Cousins was her cousin
slaughterhouse (Tuesdays), noise, tease the girls
Zeta Kettel, Valerie Bloomfield worked in the factory shop, bacon sausages, Xmas hand-outs/parcel, sell off surplus! Shop closed a long while ago
father was a bacon van driver
Start of Elmswell Cooperative Bacon Factory, scheme from Denmark (Andriesson came from), foundation stone on front of red brick office
Manager, asst., electrician had houses on the drive, Mr Drew…
….maintenance men, 8 or 9 houses Mr Bloomfield, Waller
father-in-law Waller was head engineer for many years
asst manager, lived in one of the houses

There was a bacon factory shop accessed from the station yard
the houses in the St Edmunds Drive

Rosalie Summons: Father Fred Rice worked for Jacob doing bikes – doesn’t remember whether this was before or after the baker. Finished at Bacon Factory, took the first van out there.
…apart from a spell on the bacon factory vans (Rosalie’s husband Ronald Summons). Partnered a cousin, decorating, had to give up for ill health.
When her second son was 12 she went to the bacon factory (again, having been 5/6 years in the sausage room before???) on the cleaning side.

Percy King: Finished school in July 1940, went to bacon factory in office for £1 pw, better than many – Spanton was younger than he and only got 7/6d. One above office boy. Soon put onto Wages, all by hand – 120 employees but not counting the en
Joined up in early ’43, by which time he was getting £2.15s at age 18, as much as a skilled labourer.
Aug’47, spoke to Jock Henderson – Factory was in the doldrums so tried the Met in London, 15 months, still single so never got reasonable leave, didn’t like it so left before too much pension commitment.
Back in the office, carried on from where he left off; Fred Armstrong and he could do all the jobs between them – and did so on one occasion when everyone else was down with flu’.
Lived at The Cedars, retired to Scotland in late ’50s. His son Jim was General Manager just after Andriessen, didn’t last for long as he wasn’t any good.
Factory auditors were Oliver ‘Bulldog’ Lusher & co in Bury (Val worked there 6 months before starting at the bacon); Ray Spanton became principal there. He and Jock had competed for Accounted and Jock won…daggers drawn thereafter.
Henderson had nice copperplate writing. P? became assistant to Works Manager in 1954 [is this right?]. Fred and he “took note of” other people’s jobs [in order to help when they were missing?]
Burroughs ‘ledger machine’ (for invoicing) – Stan Wilson, if he was away it was just left; just before P went back he’d been sick, Ken Lawrence (AsstCoSec) had done it longhand, impossible to balance…
Andriessen’s sec. Molly Jordan was away, Jean Williams her dep was no good at shorthand so P tried to complete her letters for her! So Mr.A had him taking longhand letters the rest of the week
Kept out of Mr.A’s way if poss (or he’d find other jobs to be done), put his letters on his desk while he was at lunch 1pm-3pm. – lived at the big house on the drive. Corrected his grammar. Marvellous old boy.
Office built in 1934 when they did the major expansion (red brick bldg). Board Room on top floor; Val’s aunt got married in Elmswell and reception was in the Board Room.
[Attempt to describe the expansion with ref to 1970s photo but not very successful.]
Val remembers allottments between Pye’s wood yard and the then factory. Isaac Beer & Sons Bacon Wholesalers had an office within the factory, big firm widespread distribution.
Bacon was regulated until ’54 or so; although we supplied retailers, most was delivered to specified wholesalers at specified prices. Arthur Watson responsible for whole country.
P worked at the bacon from 28/2/49 to 1/12/88. Ended up last 14-15 years running the cold store, freezing so much stuff so effective to have ones own store, -20deg or so.
Val says changes: when Percy was factory manager…pork pie ‘n’ that…he was in charge of whole factory but then departmental managers brought in by Crook.
Andriessen remained sharp but became quite feeble and should have retired sooner than he did; Jim Henderson for a short while but obviously not up to it.
Then they got Brian Richmond as MD, didn’t know anything about bacon but a perfect gentleman, with good management ideas. He died suddenly, heart attack in the garden.
He realised that a cooperative couldn’t raise capital like other firms, and also that there would always be a demand for quality.
Six months wait, then Kenneth Crook.

Ray Leeks: After army, worked 2 years for Cerebos salt in Essex, then home again, and when father retired he went to the bacon factory, 24 years and “retired” at 64.
Job at bacon through Crook, work in office; after 1 year they asked if he would run the pig accounts dept. 2 years, then the pig buyer left and he got that job, did that for the rest of his days. Correspondence course first!
A factory like this needs a good flow of pigs to keep efficient operation, hence the buyer’s job. If a surplus was needed they’d buy through agents on a weekly basis, from all over the country. 2000/week at first, rising to 6000.
Harris took over, eventually closed the slaughterhouse, and Ray went to buy for Ipswich factory (Hadleigh Road) 10-12,000 per week.
Then that was taken over by Yorkshire Farmers, 50,000 per week; he still carried on, arranging transport. Yorkshire hauliers 20% cheaper.
Cut into primal joints, brought back to Elmswell for butchery and packaging. Grampian took over, had their eye on the land, as they have a factory at Haverhill.
Enjoyed my time up there, really; old days of St Eds then ECF, Harris…. Hillsdale wasn’t too bad, but then. David Neill, MD, would walk the factory every morning greeting everybody.