Burnley Civic Trust Heritage Image Collection

All Thanks To a Puncture

19 Mar 1971
Michelin Tyre Company, off Eastern Avenue, Burnley

Media Ref: BE71ng47290_b
All Thanks To a Puncture
All Thanks To a Puncture () All Thanks To a Puncture () All Thanks To a Puncture ()

Mr. Albert Casson (Welfare Officer) with Mr. John Whitehead, maintenance fitter, who remembers a football match lost through two "off-side goals." The most unconventional part of Mr. Casson's job is the company's preparation for retirement scheme. In this a worker's hours are gradually reduced during the last three months before retiring although the average wage earned is still received. Mr. Whitehead is a fit looking 62 owing to his years as a sportsman and member of successful amateur cricket and football teams.

From the tenth of an Express weekly industrial feature "We Can Make It" by Allan Halstead. The series outlines each firm's history and development and tells the story of ordinary people. It was linked with a competition "Unsung Hero '71" with a prize of a holiday in Ireland with a companion.To find all this series of articles search the website using the words - unsung hero.

If Britain goes into the European Common Market there'll be many eyes on a leading Burnley firm, the Michelin Tyre Company, to pick up tips in Continental-wide manufacturing and marketing methods. Michelin is Europe's largest tyre making organisation, and it makes tyres for vehicles from scooters to civil engineering earthmovers. The Burnley factory is one of four in Britain, and will be the only factory in the UK producing wheels as well as tyres.

Headquarters of Michelin is at Clermont-Ferrand in France where it all began when Elizabeth Pugh Barker (niece of Charles Mackintosh, the man who discovered how to dissolve rubber in benzine) married a Frenchman. She made some rubber balls for her children to play with and this developed into a business in the 19th Century. A generation later, an Englishman had a bicycle puncture outside the Clermont-Ferrand factory and was helped by the two Michelin brothers Andre and Edward to repair his bike. Dissatisfied with tyre design, they experimented and made the first detachable pneumatic tyre, first for bicycles, then for cars. In the first years of the 20th Century the British company was formed in London, then in the twenties a new factory in Stoke-on-Trent became the British headquarters. Then came the radial and the Michelin "X" tyres and with the expansion of the company came the Burnley factory. Production starting in 1960 and expanded rapidly. Burnley makes the company's range of truck X tyres.

The factory manager, Tom Proctor has lived locally in Reedley for nine years and is an active member of St. Luke's at Brierfield. He is proud of the quiet, steady progress of the factory in Burnley.

Update: A downturn in the market in 2001 led to the closure of the factory in 2002 with the loss of over 450 jobs. The plant remained intact after closure, and became part of the Lancashire Digital Technology Centre.

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