Harrison Castings Ltd was founded in 1911, and like all businesses who have been around for a while, we’ve got more than a few stories to tell.
In From The Archives, we’ll share some of the stories from the history of Harrison Castings – about the things we’ve made, and the people who made them.
Today we’ll take a look at “The Foundry Five”, a group of five foundry workers who, in 1996, retired together, having clocked up a combined 195 years of dedicated service between them.
The Factory Five included Jack Smith, Aubert Parke, George Challenger, Lionel Peters, and Tadeusz Szkudlapski. The five joined the company during a recruitment drive that stretched from 1949 to 1959 to meet Harrison Castings’ post-war expansion. Interestingly, three of the five were amongst the very first West Indians to arrive in Leicester looking for work.
In 1996, The Five were interviewed for a celebratory feature by Jayne Freer of the Leicester Mercury.
George Challenger, then aged 65, began working for Harrison Castings in 1959, having arrived from Antigua. He worked for the company for 37 years before retiring. He said: “I needed work and my uncle, who already worked here, told me to come along. Over the years, the foundry has become like a second home to me.”
Meanwhile, Tadeusz Szkudlapski arrived in England from the Middle East in 1949, having served in the Second World War with the Polish army. Having served a total of 48 years, Tadeusz was the true veteran amongst The Five.
“It is a different tale working now to when I first joined,” he said. “It was hard work in those days without all the equipment we have today.
“The place has grown so much over the years. It will be missed.”
We love the story of The Foundry Five, for a number of reasons. First of all, it confirms that Harrison Castings has always acted as a hub of not just Leicester industry, but also of the wider community. We have always been immensely proud of our large and varied team, and it’s fantastic to see that workers in our foundry have always treated the place as a home from home.
But this story also highlights our commitment to progress, development, and investment. Tadeusz spoke about how much things had changed during his time with us. As we continuously invest in new techniques and technologies, it’s likely that some of our current workforce are experiencing similar changes!
So raise a glass to The Foundry Five, for doing their bit to help us become the world-class foundry we are today.