A reunion for employees who worked at the "Rolls Royce" of engineering until its factory shut in 1988 is set to take place.

The annual Ransomes and Rapier reunion will be held this Sunday at Kesgrave Social Club on Edmonton Road, from 12.30pm to 5pm.

The company was a huge operation in Ipswich, known worldwide for a variety of projects.

They made large cranes including massive walking draglines used in open cast mining, cranes that were so big they could only be assembled on the mining site.

East Anglian Daily Times: Ransomes and Rapier was responsible for constructing the walking dragline crane and other machinery.Ransomes and Rapier was responsible for constructing the walking dragline crane and other machinery. (Image: Contributed)

During the First World War, Ransomes and Rapier produced guns, tank turrets and shells, and production of mobile cranes, sluice gates, railway turntables, and other major projects employed thousands.

The company also made some unusual mechanisms, such as the revolving stage at The London Coliseum theatre and the turntable for the revolving restaurant at the Post Office Tower - now known as the BT Tower - in London.

They were also responsible for building the first railway in China.

Many families saw generations working there, and through the 1970s and 80s the company went through difficult trading times and was taken over and eventually closed in 1988 after a takeover.

By 1990 most of the site had been demolished and cleared for redevelopment.

East Anglian Daily Times: Inside the old Ransomes and Rapier site in Ipswich.Inside the old Ransomes and Rapier site in Ipswich. (Image: Contributed)

The R and R site is now a mixture of housing and small industrial units with Hawes Street, Jamestown Boulevard, Virginia Street and Discovery Way on the site.

The factory was eventually closed by Robert Maxwell, who in 1987 transferred production to Stohert and Pitt, one of his companies in Bath, and plundered the pension fund at R&R to keep his businesses afloat.

While annual pay strikes virtually closed the factory every spring, many marched against the closure of the business in Ipswich town centre.

East Anglian Daily Times: Robert Maxwell with Ransomers and Rapier staff in July 1987. Photo: DK/ArchantRobert Maxwell with Ransomers and Rapier staff in July 1987. Photo: DK/Archant (Image: Archant)

Employee reunions have taken place since, originally organised by Elizabeth Townsend, and later former employee Derek Clarke took over the organising of them.

Between 30 and 60 former employees turn up to chat and reminisce on old times.

Mr Clarke started at R&R at the age of 15 on a six-year apprenticeship as a tool fitter.

He was made redundant before the company dissolved, meaning he could transfer his pension scheme while others were not so fortunate.

Mr Clarke: "As a tool fitter, we used to work to one-tenth of a thousandth of an inch on tolerance when making something.

East Anglian Daily Times: The site is now housing and industrial units.The site is now housing and industrial units. (Image: Contributed)

"It was a very large employer in Ipswich at the time. It was known as the Rolls Royce of engineering.

"I did enjoy working there, and I think most people did. It was a good place to work. When I was there, there were more than a thousand people employed, but there had been more in the past.

"I had no qualifications when I left school at 15, but by the time I had finished at Ransomes and Rapiers I was a full technologist in an engineering plant, and would have been able to lay out a factory with all its elements.

"When you started work on the shop floor, you had to clock in. If you were a minute late, you lost a quarter of an hour's pay. You had to clock out and in at lunchtime and after work.

"It was a different era."

There will be a range of toasties, sandwiches, salads and drinks at the venue. Family and friends are welcome, with admission cost of £3.50 per person to cover the event.