Toolmaker Peter Dawson recollections 7/11/07
I started work at Lesney as a trainee toolmaker in late 1955 at the age of 15 at Dalston (Shacklewell Lane), which was their only site at the time, Lesney having moved from Edmonton to Shacklewell Lane. My brother, Jim, joined Lesney about 1952 and worked until the late 1970's as production foreman at Eastway and Lea Conservancy Road. When Jim started work with them they had a total of 74 employees.
When I started work the toolmakers were Don Rix, Fred Rix, David Hopkins, Frank Povey, Chick Hogg, Ron Kilburn, Jim Dawson, another Ron who emigrated to Canada, and myself as their second trainee, the first trainee having resigned.
Lesney then brought a factory unit at Barretts Grove Dalston. The two works (Shacklewell Lane and Barretts Grove) ran at the same time and were eventually moved to the Eastway Hackney. I believe they brought Barretts Grove late 1955 or early 1956, because in 1956 I slipped and broke my arm running from Barretts Grove to get to work at Shacklewell lane (the firm paid my wages all the time I was unable to work), and the Barretts Grove site was in production at this time.
On splitting the works, Shacklewell Lane retained an enlarged toolroom and a foundry. Barretts Grove had a toolroom, a larger foundry and assembly facilities. The Shacklewell Lane toolroom became toolroom one at the Eastway, while the Barretts Grove toolroom became toolroom two. Don Rix was promoted to works manager at Barrats Grove and Ron Kilburn became manager of toolroom one.
Barretts Grove had been a railway sleeper works and it was only by accident that it was discovered that the dipping pit had not been filled in when "Big George", the machine mover, was knocking rawlbolts back down when the floor collapsed.
Jack always said that the idea for Matchbox came when he found his daughter trying to fit a toy car into a matchbox.