Did you work at Head Wrightson? Do you know friends or relatives who worked there?

Did you work at Head Wrightson?  Do you know friends or relatives who worked there?  We need your thoughts, memories and reflections to help preserve a very special collection of photographs.

Chief Photographer at Head Wrightson’s Research and Development department, Alan Simpson, donated his negative collection to Stockton Borough Libraries.  The collection contains over 16,000 negatives detailing the work carried out by Head Wrightson from 1958-1978 with hundreds of images of employees at work and play, providing a fascinating insight into the culture of the company and of the time.

We’re in the process of putting a funding bid together to preserve and digitise the negative collection.  If you remember working at Head Wrightson or know people who did then let us know and we can add your thoughts to this exciting project.  Here are just a few of the pictures from the collection…

152 thoughts on “Did you work at Head Wrightson? Do you know friends or relatives who worked there?

  1. My father worked for Head Wrightson in the 1950s his name was Arthur Henry Martin he was born December 25th 1909 and died April 29th 1960 heffer the company at spades dam in the 1950’s he was killed when working for Head Wrightson at Workington British on the new sinter plant they were constructing when he fell 40ft from a girder. I would really like to know much more about my father’s career with Head Wrightson. I’m his eldest son Frank Martin

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  2. My father worked for Head Wrightson Process Engineering Limited, based at the Baltic Street office in central London from 1947 until about 1979. He started his career as a trainee draughtsman and finished it as Managing Director, with a lot of interesting experiences in between. He regularly went up to Yarm, which was convenient while I was at University in Durham. His Head Wrightson connection inspired me to write my undergraduate dissertation on the growth of Stockton-on-Tees 1850 – 1899.

    Happy to hear from anyone who knew him. He was called Zbigniew Bachurzewski, but changed his name (and mine) by deed-poll to Robert Barr in 1959

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  3. A long shot I know but would anyone know of Edward Allen, a metal machinist at HW in the 40’s up until his early death aged 40 in 1952. Unfortunately, I don’t know which site he was at. He lived in Hartlepool with his wife Francis. TIA.

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  4. I started work as an Apprentice Fitter and Turner with HW Co Ltd “Engineer’s to the Empire” in 1961, My first year, as with all apprentices was spent travelling around the various HW companies and gaining and understanding all the aspects of Engineering from Iron Foundry, to R&D and Inspection.
    After that first year I was taken on by HW Stockton Forge in the Drawing Office, then under the management of Ray Shaw Chief Draftsman.
    I have very fond memories of the staff at the Forge, looking back there were some real characters in that Drawing Office, I am convinced that they were some of the funniest people I have ever met, and I still tell stories, probably a bit embellished about some of the antics. Some of the stories are factual, such as training for and embarking on the “Lyke Wake Walk”.
    I walked with Alan Ayes one of the Senior Draftsmen at the time, Alan and I had one thing in common we had both played rugby for Stockton RFC at Norton Cricket Ground.
    Looking back, I feel privileged to have had such good mentors and co-workers, such as Alan Ayers, Joe Stephenson, Les Berry, Wilf McIntyre, and Mike Corner and not forgetting Geoff Eastwood one of the smartest engineers I have ever met.
    In 1967, then just married, we emigrated to South Africa where I worked for HW South Africa, unfortunately it was only a glorified post office for the UK offices. I moved from there to Anglo American Johannesburg office.
    After a 2-year stint in SA, we went to live and work in Ghana West Africa for the Ashanti Goldfield’s Corp, AGC were a customer of Head Wrightson.
    Following three years in Ghana, we emigrated once again, this time to Australia, where we have been for the past 40 years.
    Of course, I am l retired now, but seeing some of the old photographs of Head Wrightson’s makes me very proud to say I was once a small part of that.

    Keith Pearson

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    • I also worked at Head Wrightsons Stockton Forge Keith, but left before you started at the apprentice school . In !959 all the Forge ex Apprentices who were not married with children were made redundant due to the lack of work for the Bridge Yard.. As history turned out it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Harry Soppett Apprentice Supervisor and Frank Shepherd Director arranged an interview for me at Ashmore Benson Pease for a Trainee Estimator. I was appointed and when I received my letter of appointment I was amazed at the Salary Package I was offered a 50$ increase plus only 36 hours per week as against 44 hours at a Templatemaker. A 50% increase in Salary, I was over the Moon.
      Like you after five years at Ashmores I went to South Africa to work, Once again I managed to a acquire 50% increase in Salary., stayed five years then back to England before moving to Australia for the RIO TINTO Group of Companies who I had joined for two years in England so it was a transfer with all expenses paid.
      I have lived in Australia for the past 50 years , Retiring fro RIO TINTO as Principal Consultant for Estimating and Cost Engineering at the age of 58 years and have enjoyed my retirement for the past 27 years keeping myself busy with Golf three to four times per week. I always think that the best thing that ever happened to me was getting the sack from Head Wrightsons Forge in 1959. By the way Keith in all my time in the Forge Bridge Yard and Template shop I never ever met a Draughtsman in the works area. Did you ever manage to get into the Bridge Yard. We always had the impression that the Office workers even the Clerks were too important to visit the lowly Worker on the shop floor. We even had different Canteens the eat our lunches in.

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      • Stockton Forge was a hot bed for top local sportsmen who worked there at some time or other. I remember when I worked there we could field a full cricket team in our interdepartmental team who were North Yorks and South Durham League players. Players like Gus Williamson, Harry Thompson, Norman Toulson, Billy Robson, and many more too numerous to mention. The Inter departmental matches in Cricket and Football were very tough games to play in with no quarter asked or given by each department…

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        • We had our fair share of top local sportmen at Teesdale, in football there was Billy Day, Keith Moody, Harry Armstrong, Eddie Wilkinson & many more, as you say the Inter Departmentals at cricket & football were hard to win.

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  5. On Nov 2nd 2019 my wife & I attended a “celebration of life” for an ex machine company employee Joyce Baker (nee Stevens) who passed away while visiting her sister in Wales. She will be sadly missed by her three children & seven grandchildren, my wife & I had known Joyce for over 60 years. At one time in her career she was Ernie Joplins secretary.

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  6. My Dad worked there Adrian Wynn late 60’s through to early 80’s. He was a former pit fitter from Easington. My Dad took me round one Saturday morning and can remember being scared to death of the ‘big’ hammer as I called it. Unfortunately my Dad died last year and had lots of stories about management especially.

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  7. My father worked for the company as a metallurgist in the late fifties, early sixties, coming up from Samuel Fox in Sheffield. He had fond memories of the company, and also Dorman Long. We moved to the Black Country when he took up a job at Round Oak in Brierley Hill.
    We found a reference to him in another online post, where someone remembered someone called Ray, but can’t find it again.

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  8. My Father worked at Head Wrightsons right up to the point of it closing. He contributed to a weekly saving plan but lost his certificate so was never able to cash it in. Does anyone on this site have any memory or information on this scheme? I really don’t know where to start looking for info as it was so long ago. It been a long standing issue between my parents as my dad is sure my mum threw it in the bin and he was told at the time that without it he could not claim it which I am sure cannot be correct.

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    • Hello Vicky.
      Have just picked up on this HW post and scanning through it I note your post, My Dad worked for Heads as a turner, but its the Easby surname that sounds familiar, I’m sure there was an Easby in the ‘Claggy’ pit end of Tilery, we lived in Craister Street.
      J.

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  9. Does anyone know when the Head Wrightsons bowls club was demolished? My Grandad and Dad both were members and I first played bowls there when I was about 3 1/2 as I was getting bored watching so the blokes gave me some bowls, a jack and a mat and got me onto an empty end rink! Still playing now 51 years later!

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  10. Can anyone tell me about a Mr E Orpen who worked for this company between 1914 and 1954 with 40yrs service? Would like to find out a little about this man.

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    • He was still with Head Wrightsons in 1960, along with Bill Lakin they were over the women working on turret lathes in the Thornaby Light Machine Shop, there was also a relation of his called Jimmy Orpen who served his time as a fitter & turner, he also was a good cricketer playing for Norton Cricket Club first XI at a young opening batsman.

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  11. HI.
    My father in law Derek Major worked at Hartlepool in the 1950s to the 1960s.
    He played in the football team and later ran it.
    As a family we are trying to trace the trade union he was in, he worked on the hammers,any information would be grateful.

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    • Head Wrightson Staff, many served on Fire Service Duty.

      Does anyone remember that when a fire occurred in Thornaby, the WW2 Siren on the roof off the Fire Station was set off, and it’s ‘loud blare whoooo’ warning call could be heard all over the Thornaby. This fire alarm signal told the part-time firemen working in Heads that they were wanted, and had to report, minutes later they all came flying down New Street, on pedal bikes to attend to the call out. The first to arrive was always a famous locally mongrel dog, who loved chasing after the Fire Engine as it drove away. Quite a few locals used to gather to watch for the dog to arrive, and to watch it chasing down George Street, after the departing fire engine.

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  12. My father-in-law, Richard (Dick) George Robson, worked at H.W. for almost forty years, including throughout the Second World War. I’m told that when he left school he was employed as a apprentice joiner with a local firm. However, in the early 1930’s, as financial pressures were tight in the the family household he was forced to leave his apprenticeship before it was completed. He then found better paid employment as a labourer working with the Moulders at H.W. from about 1935 and left in the mid 1970’s. He was a staunch Trade Union supporter, a shop steward and became the Branch Secretary of, we think, The Transport and General Workers Union.

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