After I mentioned the remarkable Castings PLC video, I had a good read of the latest blog post by Aldridge’s very own Linda Mason, in which she recalls the heyday of the Redhouse Estate in Aldridge, and it’s neighbouring large employers – McKechnie, The BRD and Birlec. These weren’t just factories, they were institutions with social clubs, events and their own community spirit. This evocative, intelligent and nostalgic piece is, like all Linda’s work, well worth a read.
That which has been lost and destroyed, can never be put back. What we today call ‘Modern Apprenticeships’ – nothing more than the generally dead-end YTS schemes of yore are no substitute for the tens of thousands taken through the training schoolss of companies of that post-war era. This was a time of nearly full employment, and today, we are coercing the jobless into working for benefits for the likes of Tesco for way less than the minimum wage, with only the demeaningly vague promise of an interview at the end.
We need more companies like Castings in Brownhills to invest in the future, yet as long as our government cowers tremulously before bankers, asset-strippers and financial vultures, I fear we are doomed to decline.
While we’re about it, Linda is undertaking a remarkable cycling feat this year: please sponsor her. It’s for MacMillan, a charity very close to my heart. Please give all you can – the lady has a gruelling task there and deserves our support.