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All traces of Goodyear almost gone forever from Wolverhampton

By Megan Archer | Wolverhampton | Business | Published:

It is well and truly the end of an era as demolition work on the iconic Goodyear factory buildings nears completion.

The closure of the plant in Bushbury Lane and Stafford Road, Wolverhampton, was announced in 2015 after years of scaling down, resulting in the loss of 330 jobs.

The decision was a huge blow and more than a 1,000 people signed a petition calling for it to be saved.

It finally shut in August 2017 and has since been reduced to rubble, making way for new homes.

Cyril Barrett, chairman of the Unite branch at Goodyear, said it was the ‘end of an era’.

He said: “I recently met up with the people who were made redundant in the last phase and they were saying that everyone who is left just feels sad. I feel sad.

“They miss the camaraderie, their families grew up with a connection to Goodyear. It really is very sad, it’s heartbreaking, to see what happened.

“It has been the break-up of the biggest family in Wolverhampton and the Black Country – the biggest, kindest family has been destroyed.”

Former worker Wayne Devaney, from Wednesfield, said he was sad to see the buildings come down.

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“I drove down that way a couple of times and have seen the buildings taken down bit by bit,” he said.

“It’s a real crying shame. My wife tells me not to cry but it was a big part of my life for 28 years.

“You can look back and say we can hold our heads proud, we’ve done something that has benefited the town.

“Some of the people there were absolutely brilliant.

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“They were all hardworking. I started working at one end of the factory and went from one end of the plant to the other.

“The whole operation was fantastic, and at the end of the day, I know Goodyear upped sticks but ultimately they gave me 28 great years.”

He added: “Since I’ve left Goodyear I’ve had a few jobs, I worked at Muller in Telford for a bit but the trip was just too much.

“A lot of the lads have gone over to Market Drayton but I couldn’t get anything in Wolverhampton.

“The one good thing about it is the work the Benevolent Fund has done. I’ve been a part of that and been to some presentations.

“It’s helped people and charities all over Wolverhampton.”

People living near site have watched on as the final brickwork is torn down for good.

There were mixed reactions on social media after photographs of the final buildings being torn down were published.

Facebook user Gillian Nicholls said: “So many local people worked there.

“I think it’s very sad. It was a landmark for Oxley.”

And Diane Newell added: “I think most people around here had a mom/dad/aunt or uncle who worked there and probably a brother or sister. My first job was there, as a clerk and typist for a lovely man called Bart Wilson. Happy days.”

But Andrew Charles said: “My grandparents who were in their eighties and lived on the Stafford Road all their lives had their house forcibly purchased to build the roundabout in front of the factory. They never really recovered from the move.”

Since the closure thousands of pounds has been donated to good causes from the Goodyear workers’ 5/344 Transport and General Workers Union Benevolent Fund, including a £1.5 million donation to help extend Compton Care.

The fund was built up over more than 30 years from sick and distress pay.

Work to clear the site is expected to take around six months, after beginning in June this year.

Bosses hope that all traces of the renowned factory will be gone before the end of the year.

Megan Archer

By Megan Archer
Deputy Chief Reporter - @MeganA_Star

Deputy Chief Reporter with the Express & Star. Give me a call on 01902 319363 or email megan.archer@expressandstar.co.uk.

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