(May 2010) The Sibfords Society

…Society members were joined by some guests who had worked for the Aluminium works in Banbury, to hear from Richard Hartree – one of our members, about manufacturing and production at the Alcan factory during the 90 years from 1929 to 2009. The 40 acre site was purchased in 1929 with support from Banbury Borough Council who were anxious to encourage a major production company to come to Banbury. Production started in 1931 and the company became the major employer in the town until it finally closed its production lines in 2009. Using aluminium imported from Canada, the metal and its alloys were rolled, pressed and extruded to produce a wide variety of products. Manufacturing was at its height during the Second World War when production was increased five-fold to produce sheet aluminium for aircraft production. A dummy factory was built to shield the main factory, which was camouflaged, from enemy bombing. The ‘dummy’ received a direct hit and was rapidly repaired to continue its valuable role. During its lifetime the factory was extended and refurbished with modern machinery. New furnaces, lifting gear, rolling mills and presses reduced the need for high levels of manpower and rationalisation programmes were introduced in the 1980s and 1990s. The ‘Ally’ factory finally closed its gates in 2009 having provided employment and support for its workforce throughout its lifetime.