Tudor Accessories Ltd., well known makers of wipers, washers, mirrors, petrol caps, mud flaps, battery fillers, door stays, headrests, and sun roofs, etc., but these days also big suppliers and exporters of garden equipment, moved at the beginning of the year from Hayes to South Wales. The new 100,000 sq. ft. factory standing on 50 acres of ex-farmland amid (for the time being) rural surroundings, was formally opened on July 17th by the Rt. Hon. James Callaghan, MP, an arrangement made before the General Election but not changed after it. This gave Mr. Callaghan an opportunity to make a mild party political speech before we all sat down to an excellent Stevens’ buffet lunch. The new factory, employing largely female operatives, is spacious and splendidly situated, with the fine city of Cardiff some 11 miles to the south and the very impressive lake and forest scenery that lies between Brecon and Merthyr Tydfil, to the North.
Tudor has come a long way since it opened in 1946 with six employees, 1,500 sq. ft. space and a turnover of £30,000 p.a. the Hayes-factory was built in 1961, expanding from some 5,000 sq. ft. to 60,000 sq. ft. now this has become too small to hold this Group, which with its Australian and American branches has a turnover of more than £2-million and directly employs some 700 men and women. Today the supply of “bits” to the Garage Trade and to the Motor Industry (where Ford were Tudor’s first customer) is perhaps 50/50. The new Welsh factory, just outside Ystrad Mynach in Monmouthshire, and five miles from Caerphilly where the speed hill-climb used to be held on the public road up to 46 years ago, was built by Tarmac. It contains an open plan office, an enamelling shop, a finished-products store, blow moulding machines, a press shop, and components’ assembly lines. It already employs 400 and it is hoped that greater use will in future be made of Welsh labour. Mr. Fred Worms, Tudor’s Chairman, in spite of having invited a Labour MP to open his new factory, said how unsatisfactory the under-20% Government grant to it was, and he voiced criticism of “The arbitrary way in which this particular grant is being made by an advisory panel, whose decisions cannot be challenged, and who do not disclose how they arrive at their figures”. “No distinction is apparently being made,” said Mr. Worms, “between Companies which move completely into a development area and those who merely open a shadow factory”. To this Mr. Callaghan made no comment, except to remind the new Government that it had better do better, as he will be watching . . . . . !
Driving home in my belt-driven motor car I noticed that sheep still graze at the roadside and on playing fields where the new factories are rising or area already in being, as if in defiance of change, and of politicians whom they resemble in several ways. But it was a good lunch –and we wish Tudor well.–W.B.