Half a century of the BBA

A CELEBRATION of the BBA will be held in Cleckheaton to mark the 50th anniversary of its retired employees association.

The wealth of photographs and memorabilia is bound to bring memories flooding back for those who worked for British Belting and Asbestos, which in its hey day was Spen's largest employer.

BBA memorabilia will be on show at the REA Scandinavia Trust on Kelloe Street from 10am to 2pm on Saturday July 19.

And on Sunday July 20 there will be a thanksgiving service at Whitechapel Church at 2pm followed by food at the REA centre.

The free events are a chance for former colleagues to celebrate the company, and the REA which was formed in August 1958.

Its remit was "to maintain in retirement contacts and friendships which were made while working with the company", and it retains an important role in many people's lives today.

The organisation has a choir which performs concerts for charity and entertains the elderly.

There is also a wine circle, a reform group and activities such as dominoes held at the centre.

BBA was one of the defining features of the town during the previous century. The company came to Cleckheaton in 1901 at Savile Mills – soon to be renamed Scandinavia Mills.

It began as W Willson Cobbett Limited, named after one of the co-founders, and changed its name in 1911 to Scandinavia Belting Limited.

In 1920 the firm took over the British Asbestos Company and began transferring its plant from London to Cleckheaton, five years later becoming BBA.

The London sales office moved in 1938.

And in 1967 a complete reorganisation took place when a holding company BBA Group Limited, was formed.

Two subsidiaries were created – Mintex Limited and Scandura Limited – to carry out manufacturing and selling.

BBA Automotive Limited was later formed to co-ordinate the group's friction and anti-friction material interests.

At its height the company employed 3,000 with a site covering 30 acres.

Read more about the company in next week's Guardian and Herald, when we will publish more photographs from the company's history.