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greengalloway

As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Working Class Hero: Class of 78


Just finished Punk Rock : an Oral History [John Robb: 2006] and Bash the Rich [Ian Bone:2006].

Arguments about class are common to both, revolving around belief that working class = authentic and middle class = wanker.

Here is a photo taken outside a factory in November 1978. It is of the engineering department of the J. Allen Rubber Compan, part of the London Rubber Company. Are the people in the photo members of the working class? Apart from two- the Works Manager and the Engineering Manager - I reckon most people would say 'Yes'.

In which case one of these working class heroes is me.

The photo is also part of history. The factory was closed in 1981. The machinery in the container behind us was part of a rubber glove making machine sent to Malaysia. Once up and running the London Rubber Company transfered all production to Malaysia. Even their main factory in east London - where I moved in 1979 and where they made Durex condoms- is now gone. And the London Rubber Company itself is no more - owned by Scholl.

The experience of the 10 000 or so workers London Rubber employed in 1977 (when I started working for them) and who lost their jobs during the eighties was shared by hundreds of thousands.

There was a class war - and we lost.

1 Comments:

Anonymous VKERRIDGE said...

Alistair,
I am a solicitor acting for the family of a former worker at the J Allen factory in Lydney who has very recently died of mesothelioma, an asbestos related disease. I came across your photo of the engineering dept circa Nov 1978. I would like to get in touch with any now living former maintenance workers from J Allens who can describe asbestos lagging on the furnace, boilers and pipes. Can you help or put me in touch with someone who can? vkerridge@boyesturner.com

4:56 pm  

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