This place was really interesting if not a little unsafe! I really should start baking less cakes when going out and about as it would be easier to get into places! This factory had an odler worldy feel to it and despite it being desolate since 2002 there are still a few small pieces of that past littered around!
We specialised in the manufacture of tanning machinery,’ he explained. ‘I was there from 1949 to 1973 – almost 25 years. I look back on that as my lifetime’s work, but I worked for another twenty years after Murphys, but my time there was the most rewarding’.
‘GL Murphy was the managing director and he lived in England, and would pay us a visit every few months,’ he recalled. ‘I found him a iery nice man to deal with.’
‘The manager of Gorey Leather Factory, Mr. Hayes, was friendly with GL Murphy before he ever came to Gorey, and it was Mr. Hayes who encouraged him to come to Gorey to serivce the Gorey Leather factory and many other tanneries throughout Ireland including Portlaw, Ballybay and Dungarian,’ said Martin.
‘The Leather Factory got its tanning machinery from Italy and Germany as we mightn’t have been manufacturing the type of machinery they would need. They certainly gave us a lot of business though’.
‘When it first came on stream in 1946 in 1947, they sent young people from Gorey technical school to train in England in the parent factory B&J Wright in Leeds,’ added Martin. ‘I spent six or seven months oier there in 1952.’ ‘There was very little employment and prospects before it – there was only the Leather factory,’ he continued.
GL Murphy’s supplied various items of machinery and did repairs to the tanning machines for Gorey Leather Factory. The plant made machinery for various companies, including Waterford Glass. ‘What does annoy me sometimes is it is referred to as a light engineering works,’ he added. ‘It was anything but. We sometimes manufactured machines up to ten tonnes.’
‘It was notable mainly for the number of people who trained there – fitters, turners and moulders,’ he stated. ‘Most of them went to England to train and came back here. From time to time they left and got better jobs. It had a great reputation.’
‘I went there as an apprentice draughtsman in 1949 and later became a senior draughtsman. In 1961, I was appointed works manager and kept that post until I left in January 1974,’ he continued. ‘The near building was the joiners’ shop, and the centre building was the main engineering workshop. The upper building was the foundry,’ he recollected. ‘It was recently used by James garage.’ Being the town’s second largest employer, there was a great camaraderie among the staff, and the staff dance on December 8 eiery year was one of the highlights of the social calendar. ‘We would get a big showband for it, and huge crowds would go to it,’ said Martin. ‘We also had a social club in part of the Bridge Bar on the Clonattin Road and we used to play cards and darts.’