I was so sorry to hear the sad news about Teresa [Issue 226] . Please pass on my sincere condolences to Nick.

Though I have had no contact with her for years – and didn’t make the connection of her involvement with The Ipswich Society – because you may be aware that I was Personnel Manager at Crane’s for around 35 years, we would have been aware of each other’s presence. The Crane metallurgical laboratory was industrially ahead of its time in the way it operated, the excellence of its staff and the advanced work which they did. I can still name at least a dozen now and describe their roles.

With a workforce in excess of three thousand, I was responsible for recruitment for over three decades and may well have participated in her appointment. Although I left Crane in 1994, I still maintained a close contact with the company and the hundreds of people I got to know over those years – and they inevitably knew me. Sadly, I seem to be outliving so many of them.

Although the company finally closed in 2008, I voluntarily set up and managed a huge rescue exercise to save some of its archive collection – both documents and photographs – only hours before their destruction by the demolition contractors. I recruited a team of former Crane staff and we sorted and recorded thousands of documents and pictures which I persuaded the Suffolk Record Office to accept, in particular a photographic collection. Unfortunately, the majority were on glass plates, which the Records Office would not accept; I had to scan them (at home) into a digitised format for them.

Sadly, the foundation stone laid by the Ipswich plant founder, James Bennett, in 1921 was lost in the demolition process and is probably now buried under John Lewis’ car park. But, through force of argument, as the development of the site got under way, I at least succeeded in getting the two principal access roads named after the company and J.E. Bennett, its founder.

I now look forward to soon getting back to face-to-face meetings of the Society – though there may be significant constraints for some time to come. I have been a people-person all my life, and Zoom is useful but no real substitute for me          

John Barbrook