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AnnaFCSmith

Will's Tobacco Factory, Hanson St. Memories

HI everyone,
I'm an artist doing a research project/exhibition at WASPS space at Hanson St in the old cigarette factory.

I'm looking for memories or tales about the factory or even those next door: What it was like to work there; who worked there; any stories from the factory; how you made cigarettes; memories of any traditions/activities that would happen there; what it sounded/smelled like; what peoples thoughts were about tobacco, did they/you think it was important, a big part of your lives, an important source of income; and if anyone has any photographs that relate to the factory.

If anyone has any personal tales or stories passed down to them please let me know! Thank you for any help. If you are happy for me to get in contact with you further to perhaps record you speaking (voice only) then let me know!
Alycidon

My Father, sadly long dead, worked in the packing room for many, many, years as engineering supervisor then manager, I remember getting shown round the factory on an official tour as well as a few other visits.  A couple of things I remember him telling me
- Before the government changed the law to pay duty on the bonded tobacco to paying duty on the finished cigarette, the whole factory was intensively vacuumed once a year and all the loose tobacco dust collected and claimed back from HMC&E.
- Nearly every year there would be a cost review, and that usually resulted in 1mm being shaved off the length of a cigarette.  The consumer would not notice this but when you are making millions of cigarettes that all adds up to a lot of tobacco.  It is only if you can compare a cigarette packet from the 1960s with on from the 1990s that you really see the difference.
- All the staff received a weekly allowance of cigarettes, these were marked with "SI" (Staff Issue) on the paper seam, these were the only cigarettes any member of staff were allowed to have in their possession while in the factory.  There were regular checks on staff and if you were found with normal cigarettes you faced dismissal.  Up in the managers dining room there was a display case with various SI cigarettes, my Dad and the other managers used to go to work in the morning with an empty cigarette case and come home with it full!  His weekly issue was hardly used and we had to throw out hundreds of cigarettes that he had in his wardrobe after he died, they were so old and dried out they were useless.
AnnaFCSmith

Thank you so much for sharing your memories and dad's stories. This is really useful information.  
sputnik

my sister worked for wd and ho wills back then.i think she rolled the cigars.must ask her.
AnnaFCSmith

I've been doing a bit more research and I think the W.A.S.P.S studios/gallery was built as a John Player's factory but from what I'm gathering so far it looks like both were built by Imperial Tobacco, and there was also a Gallachers too?

Any more info about any of the factories or the area would be great! and also...
What was working life like at the factories? What jobs did people do? Were people part of the union? What role did tobacco play in social life? Were there any customs at the factories for initiating new workers or when people had birthdays or got married? How did people feel when the factories closed?
AnnaFCSmith

I have a web call out for information set up on the WASPS website now. If anyone could share http://waspsstudios.org.uk/whats-...an-you-help-artist-anna-fc-smith/
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