Ipswich: End of an era as Compair Reavell engineering plant closes with loss of 87 jobs

ONE of the last major engineering firms in the town is set to close with the loss of nearly 100 jobs.

Compair Reavell was taken over by US-based multi-national engineering company Gardner Denver in 2008 – and it is now closing its plant on the Whitehouse Industrial Estate and switching production to Redditch in the West Midlands.

A total of 87 people are employed at the plant and the company has offered them the chance of moving to the other side of the country when the Ipswich plant closes over the next 12 months.

However a former senior manager thinks it is unlikely many, if any at all, will take up that offer.

A Gardner Denver spokesman said: “Deciding to close our Ipswich facility has been a very difficult decision to reach, and we recognise that it may not be possible for a large number of our employees to transfer to Redditch.

“We are therefore working closely with all of our employees to explore alternative employment opportunities at other Gardner Denver sites or with other local employers.

“We understand that this is a time of uncertainty for our employees and their families and we would like to assure all of our staff that we will continue to offer our full support throughout the process.

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“We would especially like to thank our colleagues for their co-operation and their continued hard work and commitment during this difficult time of transition.”

Compair Reavell moved to Whitehouse in 2005, but for more than 100 years it was based in Ranelagh Road in the town.

The manufacturer of compressed air machinery was one of the major employers in the town.

Among its staff was former borough council leader Peter Gardiner who joined the company in 1964. He took early retirement as a senior manager in 2009.

Mr Gardiner was disappointed at the news of the closure: “This is a very sad day for Ipswich. When I started there were about 750 people working there. That number fell over the years, but by the time we moved to Whitehouse it was still closer to 200 than 100 members of staff.

“I know they have offered people the chance to move, but I would be surprised if anyone took them up on that – you have to be able to make a big change to your life.

“When a plant in High Wycombe closed and staff were offered jobs in Ipswich no one made the move. This is the end of an era.”

What are your memories of Compair Reavell? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk