Started by: GOLDEN BEAR (3636) 

Hey there i would just like to ask if there are any Metal Box colleague's out there who worked in the new D.W.I. plant between 1974 -1983 ,
i would love to have a talk and recall those times at that factory . It just when i drive past it on the M61 i look across and see only new housing estate were once stood two huge factories churning out million's of cans so if your out there come on and have a talk . G.B

Started: 7th May 2021 at 15:46
Last edited by GOLDEN BEAR: 7th May 2021 at 15:49:08

Posted by: chip pon (25)

Yes GB, I worked for Metal Box in the building and maintenance factory in Chewmoor lane, I was an out worker and worked all over England throughout the company factories, I was instrumental in the building of the new Drawn Walled intrusion ( DWI) plant, Although I walked among the many employees, I never knew their names ,Although I did attend many lunchtime power meetings in the white horse, or was it the white lion, Good times, there were three factories on the site,
Metal box open top, Metal box DWI and the one i worked for Metal box building, Now its all housing, I got finished in 1981 when it became cheaper for Sardini ( an American firm) to do our work cheaper, The rest is history,

Replied: 12th May 2021 at 21:28

Posted by: chip pon (25)

A story i can tell from My time there,
I was working in Acton, London and staying in a Hotel in the Elephant and Castle area, In the bar at night was this Yank, typical yank , We do this better, we do that better, bla bla bla, anyway, he's buying drinks for anyone that could be bothered listening to him, I n his conversations he, mentions Metal Box, Curiosity got the better of me and i walked over and introduced myself as a fellow Metal box employee, I never bought another drink all night, this guy was flashing his company credit card and telling me how, we are doing it wrong and he's going to put it right, I remember him saying, " I'm flying up to Westhoughton tomorrow for a meeting and, brag brag brag," he then pulled out a , playboys club card, bunny girls and all that and asked, " do you fancy going here ?" how could I refuse ? he paid the taxi there, got us in and, WOW, I saw another world, He paid for drinks all night and the taxi back to our hotel, all on company expences , he could afford all that, yet his company could still underprice the building and maintenance of our Dept,
Go figure,

Replied: 12th May 2021 at 21:56

Posted by: chip pon (25)

I worked in, Westhoughton, Liverpool , Hull , Carlisle . Glasgow , Leister , Hull, loughbour , Poole , bourghumwood , Acton ,Palmers Green, Porter down , ( Ireland) that was a challenge in the day, phew, Neath, Mansfield , also brewery's, hienz factories, Pedigree ( dog food) , I met several celebs, got many one night friends and had a long time working holiday, many good time and memories,

Replied: 12th May 2021 at 22:11

Posted by: GOLDEN BEAR (3636) 

Why hello there chip pon, My name is alan I worked in the spray room dept at the DWI plant from when it opened i think july 1974 intil i was ceremonally sacked i was a SHOP STEWARD representing the TGWU , To my defence it was a brilliant set up and resulted in 4 of us losing our jobs that was in a cold January night shift 6.00pm to 6.00am shift . I wonder if you recall the problem that caused a lot of bother? IT was the concrete floor where the " decorators " stood " it used to vibrate and when those cans were turning at 900 rvm the print of the cocoa cola cans was blurred hence they shut 2 lines at a time down . Any way thank you chip pon for replying i have been asking on here many,many times for ex workers to come on to no avail until you wrote so again thanks for the memories oh and i do recall the yanks who we kinda assisted when they were installing the spraying machines they all came from Chicago they said not bad but a bit brash as we say in WIGAN .. THANKS AGAIN ...

Replied: 13th May 2021 at 16:14

Posted by: chip pon (25)

you're welcome GB, I Loved working at Metal Box, good conditions, canteen and welfare facilities were second to none, I remember sackings left right and centre as they struggled with the thatcher reign of less pay more work, longer hours and the union battles we had, It was a good place to work up to 1981 when it became a dog eat dog, Our work there fell away rapid in 1981 when i was made redundant along with about 10 more and soon after more and more went,
good times never last long and I enjoyed my time there,
We might even have spoke as i often did work in the DWI factory , can lines, conveyor belts, renewals and adjustments, we wore green boiler suits usually with a rolled up Daily mirror in the 'rule' pocket or maybe a Sun newspaper , We were notorious for coming late, going early and having long breaks,

Replied: 13th May 2021 at 17:05

Posted by: tonker (23586) 

I meet lots of ex Metal Box employees in the course of business in Westhoughton and the surrounding areas.

Does either of you remember a woman called Dorothy?

Replied: 13th May 2021 at 19:15

Posted by: chip pon (25)

yea, Dorothy, she had one top lip and hands like 5 legged,spiders , Remind me of her surname please, I might be mixed up ,

Replied: 13th May 2021 at 19:26

Posted by: tonker (23586) 

I feel she was from Aspull.

I met one lad who'd worked there, he was massive! About 6 foot four and over20 stone. He rode a Harley Davidson, because he couldn't afford a proper motorbike!
Anyroadup, I noticed he had no fingers on one hand.
"Wheeer's t'fingers gone"? I asked, tactfully.

It turned out he'd worked at MetalBox. From what I gather,it could've been DWI, because he told me his fingers were taken off by a machine what punched cans into shape.
Apparently, a fitter had been fixing the machine, he'd put his hand in the way just as the fitter switched it back on, machine punched, he lost his fingers. I didn't ask him if he knew Dorothy. Probably not.
I can imagine a lot of accidents would've occurred there?

Replied: 13th May 2021 at 21:51

Posted by: chip pon (25)

Those machines worked in the principle that you described Tonker, A 'tablet of aluminum came down a chute and a powerful piston like punch formed it into a can, It would be impossible for anyone to put his hand in there because, the whole of the machine was caged off and, if the cage opened for any reason, the machine shut down, Safety was always of paramount importance in Metal Box, Also a fitter/engineer would not work with anyone near him for the fitters own safety, I think your hog driving fingerless friend was spinning a yarn or maybe, made a claim against Metal Box and somehow conned them out of a good deal of money to enable him to buy and have a harley customized to enable him to operate the clutch and brakes with limited mobility,

Replied: 14th May 2021 at 08:23
Last edited by chip pon: 14th May 2021 at 08:25:04

Posted by: tonker (23586) 

Do you know what, chip pon mon? That's exacvtly what I suggested to him, as I knew, being of an engineering background, about pilot circuits (I also know that they can be defeated for ease of the job), (if in doubt, short it out!), (isolate and check!), (Golborne Colliery explosion,1979?) .
However ........
he came back with, "yes, well,it was. What happened was, the machine had a pressurised charge ready to operate and me wiping it, with my hand, caused it to operate".
Of which there is a possibility. Regardless, he definitely had no fingers left!

Replied: 14th May 2021 at 10:35

Posted by: chip pon (25)

Ok, They were pneumatic operated and, I s'pose anything can be 'adjusted' to suit a guy on a bonus scheme but, It must have been after I left because if anything like that had happened, there would have been an investigation, followed by a meeting and a retraining course for all of the Metal box building engineers, If memory serves me right, the machines were fully enclosed in an 1 1/2" thick angle ironed meshed cage , if the door was opened the machine shut down and a warning light above the cage lit up to warn the line supervisor that, Someone was tampering, Only a complete and utter idiot of biblical magnitude would stick his hand in front of piston knowing what that piston does, Also the operators had long steel pokers for clearing any debri or malformed tablets that got stuck in there,
Having said that, If it was a true accident, I really do feel sorry for him, that must have caused a lot of pain, suffering and shock, both physical and mental,

Replied: 14th May 2021 at 11:23
Last edited by chip pon: 14th May 2021 at 11:28:22

Posted by: GOLDEN BEAR (3636) 

Hi chip pon,, I have just been reading something or someone named ( TONKER) i cannot see what he writes ,but on the subject of a bloke trapping his fingers , He was a member of our union ( TGWU) HE WORKED at the start of the process which was just after the "CUPPA PRESS" WHICH P[pressed a flat disc ,then onto the draw and wall iron macjhine in which these disc were rammed into small cups then thro the draw iron machine now as it happened this day one of the lines was down for maintenance apparently there was NO board tied to the machine saying so ,and this lad saw a can squashed and decided to pull it out ! At that very same time the fitter at the back of machine """inched the machine forward and at that moment the lads fingers were sliced off like a knife thro warm butter , W e gathered up his fingers and he first went to the nurses station in open top factory then onto hospital , I was one of the shop stewards who assisted him in claim later on which by way he won , if my memory serves me right i think he left METAL BOX and went driving on the buses . did this tonker guy work there ????As i said earlier i worked in the SPRAYROOM was like being in helll confined area very,very noisy , and fumes well thats another story for you another day chip pon i am curious about your nom de plume too !!!!!!! stay safe G.B.

Replied: 15th May 2021 at 14:48

Posted by: chip pon (25)

Ok , GB I hear you, can you tell me the year this happened because, Its bothering me that, I never heard of it, So it was either before I started or after I left and, from your description, i'm guessing it was before I started because, in my time there, it was impossible for that machine to operate with a fitter working on it,

Why can you not see tonkers post ? do you have him on ignore ?

also yea, I know those fumes in the spray room, I cac still smell those to this day, horrible,,yak,,,

Replied: 16th May 2021 at 21:37

Posted by: GOLDEN BEAR (3636) 

Hi chip pon,,Well i started at MB in July 1974 before any production got started , i would guess that we had all 4 lines running so it would be between 1977 to 1979 , for i along with 4 other lads were sacked in January 20th friday night shift 6.00pm to 6.00am 1981 . You state that a machine can't start if a fitter is working on it i understand that ,but the fitter in question and i knew him well was what he said he was "" INCHING THE MACHINE A SMALL TURN """ HE DID NOT DISPLAY A BOARD SAYING HE WAS WORKING ON IT THE LINE WAS SHUT DOWN FOR A PM ( PLANNED MAINTENANCE)) AND AS HIS SHOP STEWARD I STARTED THE CLAIM FOR THE LAD WHO LOST 4 OF HIS FINGERS , For other reasons which i cannot go into he was awarded a huge compensation claim , but for me it could not replace his fingers no matter how much money one gets . AS i say my start date was 1st of JULY 1974 The thing that rankles me even today was the fact that a whole pack of lies was spread about by the management , we were not given access to all our colleagues to tell them what had actually happened , Bosse's claimed that we had told the general manger to stick his hand up his rear ,which was a total fabrication all we stated was " we did not wish to shake his hand and him wish us a happy xmas """ I have to confess it was a perfect stitch up job , to get rid of a shop steward and 4 more ardent trade unionist's was ace, iv' never forgiven them and never will .. G.B.

Replied: 17th May 2021 at 14:11

Posted by: chip pon (25)

All I can say is, either It was before my time there or I'm thinking of a different type of machine, The machines i was installing and service a few where a powder green machine, the action was a piston about the size of a can hit a aluminum tabletinto a cylinder, it formed a can, usually a pop can, coke or pepsi sized, The punch was all sealed in a mesh cage, Only the engineer or the can line supervisor could open the cage, I do take Tonkers point about the operator could tamper with the security for his/her own reasons but, if he did that, he would't have a finger to point if it went wrong,
Or maybe my memory is playing tricks, That is a possibility because, I went fishing on Sunday, I had a good day and when i came home, I went to the back of my car to unload my fishing tackle and, It was't there, I'd drove off without putting it in the boot, how clever is that?, Luckily I went back and it was still there, on the car park, no one had took it, mind you I only paid £25 for the lot off a car boot,

Replied: 17th May 2021 at 20:29

Posted by: GOLDEN BEAR (3636) 

WOW first signs HAHAHAHA !!!!!!!!!! G.B.

Replied: 19th May 2021 at 15:53

Posted by: judyteen (942) 

My brother Peter Gilbert worked at Metal Box

Replied: 25th May 2021 at 15:08

Posted by: GOLDEN BEAR (3636) 

judyteen ,, What years was he there and which factory did he work in there was the old open top and the new DWI one i worked in the new DWI plant from 1974 -1981 ..

Replied: 26th May 2021 at 14:18

Posted by: judyteen (942) 

He worked there from 79, went into DWI around 81 then back to can making until 2004

Replied: 26th May 2021 at 15:10

Posted by: Domin0 (198)

As anyone bought Alan Irving's book, Metal Box is mentioned.

Replied: 26th May 2021 at 17:51

Posted by: GOLDEN BEAR (3636) 

Judyteen //Domino ;; I was dismised in January 1981 for alleged misconduct but up until then i worked in the spray room in the DWI plant see if he knows me ???? Also Domino 0 this book you mention where can one purchase it from please .GB.

Replied: 29th May 2021 at 16:15

Posted by: Domin0 (198)

Hi GB, I think I saw the book advertised on Wigan news because he is a local man, but I cant find it now, it did say the book is on sale at Amazon.

Replied: 29th May 2021 at 19:05

Posted by: chip pon (25)

My time in the Company was short but enjoyable, I also benefit each month from their pension scheme, When I stated in 1977 i was forced to join the pension scheme, Although I only paid 4 year and a total of £700, When i retired in 2017 I got a tax free lump sum of £10.000 and £187 per month from them, I also had a hearing claim from them so. It was time well spent for me,
I had many happy days there and met many characters, mostly good people, I have no regrets for working there,

Replied: 31st May 2021 at 17:22


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