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UK - End of an era at Suffolk company

HEAVY engineering has come to an end at what was once the largest private-sector employer in Ipswich.

Crane Fluid Systems poured its last metal last week and has stopped production of iron fittings at its Nacton Road foundry.

The company announced the closure of the plant just before Christmas, and the final closure was accompanied by 136 redundancies.

A total of 15 workers have been retained at the foundry to decommission the building over the next few weeks.

Crane has had a foundry at Ipswich for 83 years, but this production has been switched to China because the work is cheaper there.

Over the last three months the Company has worked with its staff and training services to ensure that people are prepared to find new employment.

All employees were eligible to funding for retraining under the rapid response programme, with 70 people opting to retrain or enhance existing skills in areas such as forklift driving, HGV, building and engineering training and electrical qualifications.

On Thursday the company held a farewell lunch for those people leaving the business.

In thanking the employees for their outstanding commitment to the Company, managing director Peter Wilson also praised them for the professional and dignified manner in which they had conducted themselves in very difficult circumstances since the announcement of the redundancy.

The manufacturing of specialist valves for the building services market and products for the gas industry will remain at Nacton Road until 2009 when it will transfer to Hitchin facility.

The Company will retain its Head Office in Ipswich and negotiations are currently ongoing for suitable premises in the town.

The Crane site is expected to redeveloped - possibly as a new business park.

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