An appeal has been launched for information about what it was like to work in the former Rolls Royce aero engine factory, in Hillington, Renfrewshire.
KibbleWorks – the social enterprise hub and job training wing of Paisley’s Kibble Education and Care Centre – is transforming part of the former factory into a leisure, employment training and events venue called The Experience.
And the team behind the new venture want to pay tribute to the former workers – particularly during the Second World War when thousands of Merlin engines were manufactured for famous fighter planes like the Spitfire and Hurricane.
They plan to create a visual timeline of the factory, which will soon become Scotland’s first indoor electric go-kart arena creating 30 new jobs and giving vital employment training to out-of-work young people between the ages of 16 and 24.
The Experience will be housed in 66,000 square feet of former factory space at Edison Street, Montrose Avenue and Lothian Street, Hillington. The venue is presently under construction inside the factory and is due to open by the end of this year.
Now, Amy Johnston, Kibble’s social history assistant is asking people to contact her with their memories of working there and to let her see any artefacts from the factory, which produced 23,500 Merlin engines during the war years.
She explains: “The factory space where The Experience is going to be has an incredible history and the people who worked there played a major part in the war effort.
“We want to hear people’s memories of that time, as well as stories from later years in the decades after the war.
“I appreciate that people still living and who worked at Rolls Royce making Merlin engines during the Second World War would now be in their late eighties or nineties.
“But we’re also hoping that their offspring may remember their parents talking about life in the factory and we’d love to hear these stories as well.”
Amy added: “One of most interesting things about the factory making these engines for fighter planes that played such an important role in the Second World War is that the majority of the workforce were women.
“And they twice took strike action to win equal pay with men for doing the same jobs.
“I hope people who have memories – either first or second hand – will get in touch because we have plans to create a timeline and mini-museum at The Experience so people will know the history of there they are visiting.”
Anyone who can help Amy with information or artefacts from the Rolls Royce factory should email her at [email protected] or phone her on 0141 847 6614.