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Did You Work At The Slazenger Factory?

Tuesday February 12 2013



IN its heyday Slazenger’s factory in Barnsley employed hundreds of local people and produced thousands of tennis balls each year.

They were sent all over the world and made especially for the annual Wimbledon tennis championship.

Did you work at Slazenger’s? What was like to work in the factory? Did you work in the special Wimbledon room? Your memories are wanted for Experience Barnsley, which is taking place at the Cooper Gallery on March 2.

Experience Barnsley will be the first ever museum and archives centre devoted to Barnsley’s history and will open in early summer 2013 across the ground floor of the Town Hall

You're asked to bring along any photos or objects that could be used.

For more information please contact Jemma Conway, Community Heritage Curator on 01226 790270 or email jemmaconway@barnsley.gov.uk

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Reply Posted by anita sykes on Tuesday February 12 2013 at 16:19
yes i work at that place at the age of 16 it was hard graft i had to have my wrists bandaged and starched to make them strong enough to cover the balls it was really painful x

Reply Posted by Phil Harvey on Tuesday February 12 2013 at 16:23
I worked there in the 80's. It was'nt a very good job. It was a very repetitive job and many people had repetitive strain injury on their wrists. Some good managers and mates worked there, Paul Marshall was my manager, he was the best manager there & he let me work any shift I wanted to work (regular days for me). Then there was a manager called Tom Tidy, a well dressed & very fine manager, he used to bake sausage rolls at home on Fridays then bring them to work and walk around the factory and share then out as a treat for doing a good job all week. I was a very warm place to work, during the summer months saline (salt drinks) were available for you to drink throughout your shift. Would I want to work there if it was still operating now? Maybe not.

Reply Posted by Linda Robinson on Tuesday February 12 2013 at 16:27
I left school at 15 and went straight to work at Slazengers in 1972 .I worked in the core department,and my mum worked evenings inspecting the finished tennis balls.I can always remember 2 elderly ladies working there who were always laughing and joking.But we were all scared to death of our supervisor think her name was Audrey ! But still have fond memories.

Reply Posted by Phil Harvey on Tuesday February 12 2013 at 16:36
As for a special Wimbledon room, there wasn't one. Most of us started to make the Wimbledon balls, starting around December time. Extra care was made not to mix these balls with ordinary balls though & I do believe that once made they were locked in temperature controlled storage. When it came around to Wimbledon time, Wimbledon used to send a few tickets to us for the final, with hotel and money thrown in. They were raffled off & the management always won them, I couldn't believe how lucky they were every year. All I all some very good people worked there and the Christmas party in the pub was a must for all (Toby Jug).

Reply Posted by karlmgf on Tuesday February 12 2013 at 16:57
i have a freind called mick worked there for years he had to finish becouse he contracted lung cancer there and had one lung removed hes never been the same since

Reply Posted by shirley savage on Tuesday February 12 2013 at 17:08
i worked there from the age of 16.it was my first job.there were good times and bad times at the factory.i made some great friends there some of which i still see.our bosses were royce goodhall...john ball and ken...carnt remember his surname.(...it is a long time ago )..one of my best memories was taking part in the mayors parades..well it came a close second to the nights out with the girls and popping across the road to pub at lunchtime.were we ever late back...well il leave you to guess!!

Reply Posted by Don McCarron on Tuesday February 12 2013 at 17:14
We've had one or two hearing damage claims raised against Slazengers. Apparently it was pretty noisy.

Reply Posted by Phil jHarvey on Tuesday February 12 2013 at 17:41
When my wrists were in total agony because of strain injury I was transferred to the endurance department. It was separated from the main building because of the noise it made. At the start of my shift I had to put 6 tennis balls taken from a nominated batch of balls, put them into an automated mating machine that whacked them at 250mph for an enduring 6 hours. After this time had passed I had to check to see if all balls were in a very good condition. If they passed all was well, if one failed then the whole batch was rejected. It was a very noisy job but after a while I got used to it & went to sleep. Only got caught sleeping once though......lol

Reply Posted by Phil Harvey on Tuesday February 12 2013 at 18:14
I meant "Batting Machine" not "Mating Machine"

Reply Posted by John Driver on Tuesday February 12 2013 at 18:46
I worked there from 86 - 98 doing tennis & squash balls and shuttlecocks from 98 - 02 when it closed.... I was lucky to be transferd with my job to Baurgh green where we still are.... The tennis jobs were hard work, especially forming and air inflation where bad wrists were an ocupational hazard..... Squash was named "Butlins" lol, cos it was lake an holiday camp!!! There was some good times to be had there though, made some good friends "John Turner" who i'm still in contact with...... Good bosses too, Paul Marshall, Dave Hayward, Steve Goodhall.. To sum up.. Hard graft but good times over 16 years...

Reply Posted by Paul West on Tuesday November 10 2015 at 18:11
What about John Ball in the early days John ? ;-)
Good times but hard work - the end of the production where we worked stuffing the tins into the boxes and taping them up

Reply Posted by Paul West on Tuesday February 12 2013 at 19:21
I worked there for a short time - about 6 months if I remember right - worked in the packing section - machines dropped the finished balls into tins and then they had tin lids pressed onto them and they came down a small conveyor and we used to pick em up 4 tins at a time and dropped them into boxes - I can think of slightly more interesting work but there were some good people there - John Balls wife was the supervisor in the department when I was there but I can't remember her name. I transferred to the Slazenger warehousing site at Wakefield Jnc41 after my short time in there. My time there was in 1987 - Remember a tall ginger lad called John ..........

Reply Posted by shirley savage on Tuesday February 12 2013 at 23:07
johns wife was called lyn.

Reply Posted by Jamie wilson on Tuesday February 12 2013 at 19:36
My dad ( Jeff wilson ) worked there close to 30 years, met my mam there too, our dogs were never short of a ball to chase. Looking forward to mentioning this to him, memorys and old work mates for him to remember.

Reply Posted by Jemma Conway on Tuesday February 12 2013 at 21:11
Hi everyone, thanks for posting your memories they are great! If anyone has any photos, or even a tennis ball made there, it would be great if you could come along to the Cooper Gallery to share those memories!
Thanks Jemma

Reply Posted by Margaret Gillham. on Tuesday February 12 2013 at 22:34
I worked there for 14yrs. I worked in the covering dept. I really enjoyed my job even tho it was hard graft with a lot ov us havin wrist n shoulder pain. We had a re-union last year it woz a brill night. I still keep intouch with quite a lot ov people who I worked with and as I now work in a supermarket I still see a plenty of old friends

Reply Posted by anne 'jackson' daley on Tuesday February 12 2013 at 22:58
I did 16 year there on covering then giving work out when covering machines took over..lots of happy memories n made lots of great friends which i keep in contact with ..look forward to next reunion last 1was a good 1

Reply Posted by Nicola Deacon on Wednesday February 13 2013 at 07:15
my mum janet strachan worked there for years. I will tell her about this!

Reply Posted by Lesley Lee on Wednesday February 13 2013 at 10:41
Both myself and my husband Roy, worked there for a total of 67 years. I did 27, he did 40. I have fond memories of my time there and lots of lovely people who always looked out for each other. There were good times and bad but it was always like one big family.The re-union last year was brilliant, hope there's another one soon.

Reply Posted by glenda gardiner on Wednesday February 13 2013 at 11:05
I worked there from 1972 to 1990 in process control we tested everything from raw rubber to the finished product it was a interesting job a good place to work and I made some live long friends I still receive cards from my manager Steve Morley .

Reply Posted by Greenginer on Wednesday February 13 2013 at 16:40
I worked there for nearly 2 years back in the late 80s early 90s.
The factory was hot in summer and cold in winter. The work was not hard but very dull and most departments had to produce set numbers. I had to check 10660 balls per day.
Slazengers had the habit of hiring temps then firing them before they became legally classed as full time. Which is what happened to me. Thank god I managed to get out of that dump. My mum worked there for most of her life and it ruined her wrists.
The bosses were useless and I think some ex workers are looking back with rose tinted specs. Young people today wouldnt have stayed. Best thing was the canteen.

Reply Posted by kay gardiner on Thursday February 14 2013 at 15:22
Don't think any1 looking through rose tinted glasses I worked there in late 80s on the buff and dip machined yes the work was repetitive and not great on wrists but the wage was really good it'd a pity it's not still here think youngsters of today would enjoy working there

Reply Posted by Louise on Tuesday February 19 2013 at 13:44
My mum who sadly no longer here (Susan crossland) (Cobb) used to work there years ago x

Reply Posted by carol on Wednesday February 20 2013 at 13:37
I worked there in the early 60s as a telephonist it was very interesting and made some lovely friends

Reply Posted by Beverley on Friday March 25 2016 at 16:04
Hi Carol. Would know if a Frank Charlton worked at Slazengers possibly as a manager?

Reply Posted by Les hennel on Thursday September 22 2016 at 15:38
Frank Charlton worked as a Security Guard and ran the First Aid room in the 70s. He was a lovely man, a trifle pompous but friendly. He regularly brought water colours to work and exhibited them in the first aid room.

Reply Posted by Keith on Wednesday February 20 2013 at 14:44
My mum nd auntie wrked tere til it closed

Reply Posted by marie shaw (turton) on Thursday February 21 2013 at 08:50
My mam worked there she was supervisor in squash department on the evening shift. Mary Turton ano my 2 sisters worked nights in covering Sharon and Wendy Turton

Reply Posted by Lorraine clarke on Thursday February 21 2013 at 16:14
Hi... I worked at slazengers for 13 years I left 1984 I worked on the covering department, and I was one of the chosen ones to work on the Wimbledon balls with Suzanne and 2 ladies called Joan and Joyce. Good place to work at the time, I worked with some lovely ladies who I still see now......

Reply Posted by Paul Phillips on Thursday February 21 2013 at 21:46
I lived on Pindar Oakes cottages as a kid and the guys from slazenger used to throw balls over for me had loads of them in cellar lol good times used to get woken up by the bell they had that sounded like a school bell

Reply Posted by Linda Robinson on Monday February 25 2013 at 13:18
Lorraine did you work with my mum Joyce Savage ?

Reply Posted by carol on Saturday March 22 2014 at 13:41
anyone still out there who worked there in the mid 1960s?

Reply Posted by colin neville on Friday July 11 2014 at 00:52
Just to say my parents before marriage worked at the factory in Woodrow Woolwich. Is there a site for Woolwich connection?...thankyou

Reply Posted by Norm Richardson on Sunday August 10 2014 at 01:29
I'm doing research into Slazenger in Australia, does anyone have information on Stan Ackroyd who came from Barnsley to manager their Sydney factory in the 1950's?

Reply Posted by B Murray on Monday December 7 2015 at 22:55
I'm researching my family history and believe that a Frank Charlton worked as a manager at Slazengers in Barnsley/Grimethorpe. Frank passed away in 1989 and may have retired about circa 1974. Does anyone remember him?

Reply Posted by Les hennel on Thursday September 22 2016 at 15:46
A bit late in replying but I remember Frank very well. He was a security guard, receptionist, was an accomplished 'first aider', I think he was St John's Ambulance trained. He was a very nice man, a trifle pompous, but very helpful. If you see this email me,

Reply Posted by Mary Ross on Sunday July 10 2016 at 14:46
I lived at the post office in Doncaster rd from 1951 to 1972. My mum left the post office in 1977. I have great memories of the ladies coming to the shop to buy birthday cards. Of course in those days cards were so inexpensive you'd get a card from each of your friends, not one card signed by lots of them