A Relative Decline…….January 2018



I always have a few personal projects on the go, some of them are very long term, in that they may never get finished and some are more short term and actually get done. I have rushed into 2018 actually (nearly) finishing a project!

This is something I have been thinking about for many years. Travelling around the country I noticed that a lot of factories were being closed down and being replaced by shopping centres or housing estates. I wondered what all the factory workers went on to do. Did they get another job, were they happy in their new jobs, why did the factory close and what was happening to the old factories.

I employed the services of an archival researcher called Hywel Maslen, who found me 50 sites that used to be factories and were now something else.

For instance the Cadbury factory in Somerset, where the US company Kraft came in and bought Cadbury with the promise that they would keep production at the site. Within months they had closed the factory, with the loss of 750 jobs, shipped production to Poland and sold off the land to a property developer! Of course, not all factories were closed in such a manner, and some have gone on to be replaced by enterprises that really benefit the local community.

Here are a small selection from the series with a brief synopsis. (Re-touching by the wonderful Rachel Thorlby)


A Relative Decline:

In the early 1950s, Britain was an industrial giant with manufacturing as the industry’s bedrock. In 1952, it produced a third of the national output, employed 40 per cent of the workforce and made up a quarter of world manufacturing exports. Today, manufacturing in this country accounts for just 11 per cent of GDP, employs only 8 per cent of the workforce and sells 2 per cent of the world’s manufacturing exports.

These images taken over the course of a year are part of a larger series depicting sites, all over the UK, where factories once stood proudly at the heart of their communities. Slowly and surely they have been replaced by housing estates, supermarkets and business parks.

The iconic names of industrial Britain are history; in their place are the service economy and supermarkets selling mainly imported goods.

What happened and does it matter?

A Relative DeclineTobacco Factory, Bristol BS3 1TF

A Relative DeclineBally Shoes Factory, Norwich NR4

A Relative DeclineWedgwood Eagle Pottery Works, Stoke-on-Trent  ST1

A Relative DeclineLiverpool Garden Festival Site L17

A Relative DeclineOakdale Wind Energy Park, South Wales NP12

A Relative DeclineSpike Island, Bristol BS1

A Relative DeclineOrgreave Colliery, Yorkshire S60

A Relative DeclineOrgreave Colliery, Yorkshire S60

A Relative DeclineMersey Match Factory, Liverpool L19

A Relative DeclineSolar Farm, former RAF Coltishall, Norfolk NR10

A Relative DeclineCadbury Chocolate Factory, Somerdale, Keynsham BS31

A Relative DeclineVulcan Foundry WA12

A Relative DeclineLongbridge, Birmingham B31

A Relative DeclineLesney Matchbox Toys factory, Hackney E9

A Relative DeclineMerry Hill Shopping Centre, West Midlands DY5

A Relative DeclinePaulton and Polestar Print works, Midsomer norton BS39

A Relative DeclineFort Dunlop, Birmingham, B24

A Relative DeclineSanyo factory, Lowestoft NR33