A landmark Fleetwood building could be swept away and replaced by a block of 14 flats. The former Riley’s furniture showroom, previously a Mullard electrical factory, stands on Warrenhurst Road, opposite the gates to the Memorial Park. For many locals the demise of the building will mark the end of an era when thousands of local women took home good money by making valves for televisions and radios and other electrical items.
“It’s sad, but times change,” Sheila Norton, of Macbeth Road, Fleetwood. “I started straight from school in 1954 and left when it closed in 1981.” Mrs Norton began making valves and was a charge hand when she finished.
A reunion for the “Mullard girls” was held in 1998.
Another former worker Enid Harris remembered: “It wasn’t too noisy in the factory and they had the radio on over the loudspeakers. The girls used to sing.”
Mullard was a Blackburn-based company but made use of a disused snooker hall to open its Warrenhurst Road operation in 1949. Later, it was to build a second factory on Radcliffe Road which is now a cash-and-carry warehouse.
With highly competitive wage rates, Mullard had no problems attracting willing staff.
Working in a building with a glazed roof made conditions hot in summer but conditions were clean and 13 for a 44-hour week was decent money in the 1950s.
There was so much work that an evening shift was required and production switched from valves to circuit boards for computers. However, Far East imports of cheaper components hit the firm and satellite factories like Fleetwood were shut down in 1981.
The flats scheme, which has been submitted to Wyre Borough planners for approval, will have 15 two-bedroomed apartments in a three-storey building. Parking spaces would be provided.
The building became vacant earlier this year when the Riley’s business closed after trading since 1928. Their other showroom, on Poulton Road, Fleetwood, has also been earmarked for flats.
Originally published in Blackpool Gazette: November 2007