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Production lines – Warburg author’s loving reminder of London’s forgotten factories


Remember London’s factories? OK, it’s a loaded question because the city still has them, but so many have been lost, including some iconic ones like West London’s Firestone Tyre Factory. Not many had the option of reinventing themselves like The Hoover Building which became a Tesco store.

Historian Mark Amies, who works as a scanner operator at the Warburg Institute, pays tribute to the capital’s industry in his new book, London’s Industrial Past, which sheds light on a selection of factories from the city’s past. Areas of manufacture covered include brewing, toys, aircraft, cars, sweets, biscuits, electrical goods and art and photographic supplies.

Back in December 2018, Mark started on a regular series of 25-minute slots about London’s industrial heritage on BBC Radio London’s Robert Elms Show. These slots continued on a monthly basis, and now he has published this book which features some of the themes he covered during the radio show. The book features a thoughtful and enthusiastic foreword by Robert Elms.

London’s Industrial Past covers a selection of factories that were once scattered across the city. Older generations may be familiar with names that have gone, and view them with affection, but younger Londoners may be somewhat surprised that so many ‘things’ were once manufactured in their city. The range of products that were made is staggering, from biscuits to high-tech aircraft production.


Firestone Tyre Factory, demolished in August 1980

Mark Amies spotlights lost names, many of which are still with us but no longer active in London, or even the UK. Topics include brewing, toys, aircraft, cars, sweets, biscuits, electrical goods and art and photographic supplies. Brands include Truman’s, Lesney, Handley Page, Bentley, Trebor, Peek Freans, Lyons, Hoover, Kodak and Beechams. With rich archive images and illustrations, the book is a must for anyone with an interest in London’s history.

Published by Amberley, London’s Industrial Past (£14.99), will be available in mid July.

Related information

Cover image: Front of the Hoover Building in perivale, Ealing (2019)

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