Wednesday, 02 September 2015

In the headlines: Pirelli Carlisle

Welcome to the first in a serious of nostalgic stories looking back at some of the pillars of Cumbrian industry. This week features the Pirelli factory in Carlisle, which has employed thousands to produce countless slippers and tyres since it first opened in 1969.

Pirelli Carlisle: The origins

One day in 1872, a freshly graduated 24-year-old Italian engineer opened the door of his new factory for the first time to admit the 40 people who were to work for him. Ninety-seven years later his grandson Leopoldo Pirelli watched the 83rd Pirelli factory being opened officially by a minister of the British

Both factories were symbolic. The tiny Milan plant because it was the nucleus of a brand of foresight that was to give birth to a vast international group employing thousands of people.

The second, the new Carlisle factory, because it symbolises an achievement in research and development that made it the finest equipped plant of its type in Europe.

Work started on the Carlisle site in July 1967 and just a couple of years later the division was soon on its way to making two million pairs of slippers.

The people of Carlisle were given an opportunity to see how the products were made. And many of them would be future applicants for work at the new plant, constructed in an area where some jobs were hard to fill.

Lord Thorneycroft, who was the Board of Trade President, said: "Opening a factory is rather like the launching of a ship; a great occasion for all concerned. For the management it represents the beginning of a period which will show whether the risk they took is going to pay-off and I'm sure it will.

“For the workers, the city and local community generally it means a stronger industrial structure, new job opportunities and an increase in security. A new factory as big as this one, with 1800 men and 500 women employees, must have considerable impact on an area.

Addressing the company’s President, Leopoldo, he continued: “Mr Pirelli, Carlisle lies on the Roman Wall. It was, therefore, a key point of Italian influence as long as 1500 years ago. Your return is, I am glad to say, of a rather different nature. I am sure Carlisle is glad to have you back.”

The Pirelli factory in Carlisle has hit the headlines in the press for many reasons over the years. Can you remember some of the stories behind the headlines below?

Pirelli in the papers

1969 Opened in city £3.5 million development

1973 Opening of the Pirelli social club

1977 Pirelli tyre men in walk out again

1977 Pirelli faces mass lay-off

1994 Carlisle man to head tyre giant

1995 Pirelli tyre men win top Japanese award

1996 Pirelli cash for United

1997 Pirelli workers strike vote over ‘100 time’ row

2001 Pirelli to spend £7m on extending factory

2002 TUC boss John Monks visits factory where 900 work

2002 Pirelli plan to built massive warehouse on Dalston Rd challenge

2002 50 new jobs at Pirelli warehouse

2002 Archaeological dig at site of new development

2003 £5.8 expansion at Pirelli plant

2003 Pirelli wants 6,500sq feet extension to factory

2003 New warehouse opened; factory specialises tyres for 4 wheel drive

2006 Go ahead to erect 45 m mast to collect wind data for proposed turbine

2009 Pirelli shuts factory Feb 24 - March 4th; global economic crisis

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