Echoes of the past: Celebrating Crosslees first anniversary

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Driving down Halifax Road from Hipperholme and passing the Crosslee tumble dryer factory always takes my memory back to the 1960s when I worked at Brookes Nonslip Stone in the school holidays. I was just one of probably thousands of school boys who earned some holiday money working at this company which previously occupied the Crosslee site. I worked at Brookes’ for two, maybe three, years and then left to find my way in the world with a regular job.

It was only a few years after I left the company that it closed down and the whole site and its contents were sold. The site was very large and it stretched between Halifax Road through to St Giles Road.

Once the site had been cleared and prepared for a new development it was Phillips UK Ltd the electrical giant who opened its new factory on the site.

In 1985, following a buy-out by David Ross and Derek Clee, it saw the birth of a new company Crosslee, an anagram from their two names.

The photograph shows David Ross and Derek Clee celebrating the company’s first anniversary of production in June 1987 and are sharing the toast with a number of the employees at the fledgling new business.

Now almost 30 years on the company manufactures not only the internationally known White Knight tumble dryer but also food hostess trolleys and both gas and electric fires and Crosslee plc is still a major employer in Calderdale.

The company has gone from strength to strength since those early days - with over 40 per cent of its production being exported to such countries as Hong Kong, Chile, Vietnam, Paraguay and Kuwait, which saw the company being awarded a Queen’s Award for Export.

Since David Ross and Derek Clee led the buy-out of the Phillips site the company has produced 12 million tumble dryers which has been calculated at almost 3000 a day in the peak season.

The White Knight brand now has 25 per cent of the UK tumble dryer market and has won several awards.

When Phillips and now Crosslee took over the old Brooke’s site it saw the demise of one major employer to be replaced with a new one ...and long may its success continue.