birkby’S employees will get together to raise a glass to the historic factory, which will cease production on June 30 with the loss of 400 jobs.
Past and current workers at Birkby’s Plastics Limited are invited to a party on Sunday to share memories of working at the factory, which announced it had gone into administration on April 3.
Technical team leader Paul Ashton said workers were keeping their spirits up at the Liversedge site – but were very sad about the closure.
He said: “It’s almost like a bereavement. I started there in 1985 and worked there for 11 years. I left and came back two years ago and I thought I was going to see out my retirement there. People have been very sad and upset but at the moment the atmosphere isn’t too bad. People are still laughing and joking but it’s difficult.
“The place has been going for 145 years. My mother worked there and my grandmother too.
“There is a lot of history there. Birkby’s has always been like a family. You see people you work with more than your own family. Everybody gets on well together and it’s a great place to be.”
Paul said staff had heard rumours Birkby’s was going into administration earlier this year. An announcement was made to staff on Monday April 2.
He said: “The administrators said Birkby’s had been losing money for a while and they had been trying to find a buyer but had failed to find one. I am looking forward to seeing a few old colleagues on Sunday.
“We’ve had some happy times there. I will certainly be having a toast to Birkby’s.”
The event takes place at Legends, Bradford Road, Batley, from 4pm on Sunday.
Organiser Bob Wells, a former Birkby’s foreman, said: “The event is open to anybody who works or used to work there.
“We will be having a good reminisce about old times.”
Current and former employees have been posting memories of Birkby’s on Facebook. In the group, which has 338 members, colleagues have been sharing pictures and anecdotes.
Simon Kelly said: “So sad, I thought Birkby’s would go on forever. It was more like a family than a workplace. I know it won’t seem like it now, but there is life outside the old place and to quote the song, ‘if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere’.”
Russell Khan said: “That place has put people on the right track for bigger and better things. RIP Birkby’s.”
Administrators Ernst and Young LLP confirmed production at Birkby’s would cease on June 30. The company is one of the biggest employers in Spen and its loss is a huge blow to the local economy.