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Thread: Stevensons Dyers, Ambergate, June 2008

  1. #1
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    Default Stevensons Dyers, Ambergate, June 2008


    The_Revolution and I decided to take a wander around here recently. It's a huge site and well recommended.

    Copied from youandyesterday.co.uk - 2006

    Stevensons Dyers: Competition killed Europe's premier dyeing company


    It will be a sad Christmas for many people in Ambergate and the surrounding villages this year, for Stevensons Dyers, which has provided generations with secure jobs and good prospects, is to close its gates for the last time. Pat Parkin reports on the rise and fall of the company which was once Europe’s biggest dyeing house.

    AFTER more than a century of dyeing garments for some of Britain’s best-known companies, including Marks and Spencer, Stevensons (Dyers) Ltd has, like so many others before it, had to give in to the pressure of competition from abroad.



    Though the factory at Bullbridge, Ambergate, is just over 100 years old, the Stevenson name has been associated with the dyeing business in Derbyshire for nearly two centuries.

    In its heyday in 1970, Stevensons employed more than 1,400 people and millions of garments passed through the factory on their way to high street fashion shops. It was the country’s biggest dyeing company, though now only 80 staff remain, and most of them will be made redundant at the end of the year.

    Stevensons’ history is written into almost every home in the area, for numerous members of the same families have worked there and many have spent all their working lives at the factory.

    People travelled from Ripley, Belper, Crich, Bullbridge and Sawmills, Heage, Ambergate, Fritchley and Swanwick, to apply for jobs there for not only were the wages good but it was well-known that the working conditions were excellent.

    The Stevenson family had a close relationship with their workers, who included mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, and brothers and sisters – and there were always celebrations of special events.

    As well as working with their own relatives at the factory, many of the employees worked alongside people they subsequently married. In 1963 alone, there were 30 engagements, 15 weddings and 24 births to celebrate.

    The Stevensons encouraged friendships among their workers who were able to join countless clubs and societies set up for sport, hobbies and social interests.

    Peggy Henson (59), of Ambergate, is the last of 11 members of her family to work at Stevensons and will soon complete 27 years’ service, during which she has returned five times to work in both the factory and the offices.

    “But we are not unique,” she said. “Lots of families around here have had several people at the factory. It was very convenient because you could work shifts and lots of women returned again and again after they had had children.

    “It was a lovely place to work. Everyone would comment how friendly people were. Everyone knew everyone else and the bosses knew us all. It’s really sad it is all coming to an end.”

    Peggy is now collating the company’s history and collecting photographs from ex-employees and bosses.

    “We need to save these mementoes and memories for future generations. This has been a very important company to many, many people and it should not be forgotten. When it is completed, it will go to the Derbyshire Records Office in Matlock, ” she added.

    Included in her research were the memories of Elsie Mills, who worked there during the First World War, staying for 48 years and only retiring when she reached the age of 80.

    She recalled one of the Stevenson family who “did his whack” working with the dyers in overalls and clogs all day long. “Mr Stevenson set himself to achieve a great future and great works from very small beginnings, and we must all take our hats off to him for he has lived to see and enjoy it all,” she later wrote in the works magazine.

    Stevensons remained in family ownership until 1966, when it was acquired by Coats Viyella Clothing. At the time, it was Europe’s biggest dyeing and finishing house and they called it “one of the brightest jewels” in their crown.

    Six years ago, it became part of the Quantum Clothing Group and, despite great efforts by management to keep its business going, it became obvious that things were running down.

    Said commercial director Mike Carrington, who has worked for the company for nearly 40 years: “Over the past six years, the industry in the UK has undergone a dramatic decline. It will be a very sad day when the end comes, especially when we have been at the vanguard of development in the dyeing industry.

    “We have pioneered many new ideas, kept way ahead in the technology field and have always had a loyal and hardworking staff.

    “Unfortunately, we are the victims of dramatic changes in the demands of the textile and retail industries which constantly look for cheaper and cheaper products. We have tried to be as flexible as possible but our customers have decided to go to the Far East.”

    Stevensons, however will not disappear altogether, though it will vacate its present huge plant at Bullbridge. It owns a knitwear company and plans to build a small dye house to handle that work and has set up an international company which will hopefully work abroad.

    On to the shots

    a 360 panorama - clickable for full size


    Top of a very wobbly crane


    Dark work area


    Stripes


    Pub beer garden next door


    A slightly worrying climb to get this shot across the roof beams


    The place has been pretty well stripped. Lots of large open spaces


    Another tricky climb for this shot.


    One small area that still has a few odds and ends in it.




    Switch Box


    Finally, some wheels


    It's a nice place for a relaxed stroll, can take a while to cover the whole site.
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  3. #2
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    Default


    excellent bit of background history to the place, Crashmatt, count me in on the next trip!

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    As Crashmatt said a huge but empty site. Most of the site has thoroughly cleared of machinery and equipment and despite being abandoned for 2 years most of it's in good condition (apart from the damp problem and the wooden floors)


    Token rooftop shot across part of the site - these are becoming a theme of visits these days


    No one has clocked in for some time now.


    View of one of the shop floors from an empty lab.


    Empty space.


    And another one.


    Industrial and overgrown.


    A big dye tank?


    Tanks and chimneys.

    Turned out to be a nice day for a wander; makes a change photographing sunlight and blue skies :)

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    Good report.
    I used to work for Coats Viyella, but in Alfreton. Both the factories there have disappeared, wonder how long before Stevensons is flattened.

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    Thumbs up


    Great pics guys Cool write up to, well done on finding an origional worker!!:)
    Aversos Compono Animos

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    Blimey, I don't know how I managed to miss this report. Cracking site, chaps. Love the silos and the factory shop floor. :)
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    ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS!!!! YAY!!!!!!!

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    2 lorries used to come to irvine full of dyed fabric when i worked for courtaulds early 90,s

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seahorse View Post
    ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS!!!! YAY!!!!!!!

    Just what I was thinking ! I know we are only supposed to "take photographs" but those components don't look too old ! ;)

  11. #10
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    Very interesting historical preamble :) it's a shame to see centuries old industries and businesses fold up like this in the face of foreign competition

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