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Historic foundry’s workers hang up boots as it closes

WORKERS who had clocked up 905 years of service at an iconic iron foundry were sent home early yesterday — but bosses denied it had been done to avoid embarrassment.

The Coalbrookdale Aga Rangemaster site faces closure as bosses claim it is no longer “economically viable.” Its owners, who manufacture the flagship Aga stoves, was sold in 2015 to US food services company Middleby Corporation in a £129 million deal.

The site was due to close at the end of this month, but a former worker told the Star that bosses had brought the wind-down forward in order to avoid embarrassment, and then sent staff away when they clocked on for the last time.

This meant that when the local community gathered to mark the closure, many were no longer present.

Seen as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the foundry is where the iconic Ironbridge was made.

Graham Hickman, who worked at the foundry for 40 years from 1965, said bosses had acted to limit reputational damage “when they got wind of the facts there was a lot of media interest in the company closing down.

“Forty-two workers wanted to celebrate between them 905 years service — that’s loyalty,” he said.

In line with tradition, the departing workers hung their boots on the site gates. Later on some hoisted the Jolly Roger as well as the US flag in protest at the takeover of the company.

A company spokeswoman said there had been “an agreement in place between Aga and the union that staff could be released early” if winding down work was completed ahead of schedule.

She said the workforce had acted with “such positivity, dignity and attention to detail at this difficult time.”


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