Sunday, 12 October 2008

A piece of history

A piece in the business section of the Manchester Evening News caught my eye this week as it brought back memories of my life in a period of the mid-eighties. The article concerned the preservation of the Mather and Platt factory in the Newton Heath area of East Manchester, where I worked for two years.

I remember the almost Dickensian atmosphere of the plant with its noisy, grimy machine rooms (I was normally in the quieter confines of the IT Office, but I went out onto the floor occasionally). To environmentally-minded colleagues of the day it seemed the last sort of place that a Green should be working. Even now, a survey of Green Party members would probably show a majority in the 'helping professions' or in small scale ethical businesses; however there is a role for heavy metal-bashing too (where else would our renewable energy devices be made?), and it is those types of industry where environmental and energy awareness is likely to make the biggest difference.

It's easy to forget nowadays just how big East Manchester was as a centre for engineering in times gone by. The eighties of course was the heyday of Maggie Thatcher and the replacement of manufacturing in this country with service industry - particularly financial services (look where that's gone!) The last proposal for creating employment in that area of the city was to build a huge gambling den. That too is now history, and rightly so.

As the laissez-faire financial markets collapse around us, why not bring back appropriate (and cleaner!) engineering back to the area, as part of a Green New Deal to invest in sustainable technologies for the future instead of propping up the 'banksters'.

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