Former workmates meet at reunion

DECADES after they last saw each other a group of former workers from a 200-year-old engineering company have raised a glass to old times.Smiling and embracing one another the group, who were all special apprentices at the Ipswich-based agricultural and engineering giant Ransomes Sims and Jefferies in the early 1950's, wasted little time catching up.

DECADES after they last saw each other a group of former workers from a 200-year-old engineering company have raised a glass to old times.

Smiling and embracing one another the group, who were all special apprentices at the Ipswich-based agricultural and engineering giant Ransomes Sims and Jefferies in the early 1950's, wasted little time catching up.

The reunion took place last night under bright evening sunshine at the Butt and Oyster Pub in Pinmill – one of their old watering holes.

Barrie Steel, the event's main organiser, said he hoped that around 40 people would turn up, with some coming from as far away as South Africa to meet up with old friends.


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Mr Steel, 69, who worked for Ransomes between 1952 and 1959, added: "It's quite fantastic to see all these old faces.

"Everybody seems to be recognising everyone and we're talking like we've never been apart. Even the pub hasn't changed at all over the years."

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Oliver Budd, 67, was one of those who travelled thousands of miles for the event from his home in Swaziland. He worked in Ipswich from 1953-1956.

Mr Budd, who now sells Ransomes lawnmowers to golf clubs, said: "It is weird being back here – we haven't seen each other for more than 40 years and there is a tingle going right through me.

"We all have great memories of working at Ransomes. It was a lot of hard work, but also a lot of fun – many tremendous friendships were formed during those years."

George Pipe, 69, worked for the company famous for making the world's first lawnmower in 1832, on and off from 1950 to 1968.

He said: "We had never had a reunion and we thought it was high time we did. Ransomes was the best agricultural engineering training you could get and sadly that's no more.

"It brought together a whole raft of people from all over the world. There was an incredible mixture of people and interests, and that's what was so good about it."

Ransomes, founded in 1789, produced farm and grass cutting machinery as well as steam engines, trolley buses and railway equipment.

Its agricultural division was sold to the Electrolux group in 1989, before the grass machinery division was bought by US company the Textron Corporation nine years later.

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