Page last updated at 00:42 GMT, Friday, 16 March 2007

HP closure 'is soul destroying'

By Sarah Portlock
BBC News, Birmingham

The final bottle of HP sauce coming off the production line at Birmingham marks an end of more than 100 years of manufacturing at the site.

Special edition HP Sauce
Special Paul Smith editions of HP Sauce sold out at Harrods

Workers, who held protests in a bid to stop production moving to The Netherlands, said they felt like the bottom had fallen out of their worlds.

They, union leaders and Birmingham City Council had all hoped US owners Heinz would reconsider the move.

But Heinz has said the site in Aston was no longer viable.

Production team leader Danny Lloyd, who has worked at the plant for 18 years, said at first some workers thought something would happen to put an end to the plans to move production.

But since the beginning of the year, when it became apparent the move was going ahead, the general mood had been one of depression.

"I think people were hoping Heinz would change their mind," he said.

"But when we saw bits of the building being stripped away we realised it was really going to happen.

This is a brand the British public love
Staff member Tony Perks
"It has been quite depressing. We still had our jobs to do but how do you motivate people when they know they are losing their jobs."

The final shift would be "soul destroying", he added.

"Some of the workers have got new jobs lined up and some are nearing retirement age so are retiring early," he said.

"I am going to take two or three weeks to let it all sink in and see what's about."

Production leader Tony Perks, who has worked at the site for 30 years, said leaving his fellow workers would be like leaving a family.

"We are all gutted about it.

"I think Heinz could have made more of an effort. Most of its products are sold in this country so why take production abroad?

"This is a brand the British public love and I think it will have a knock-on effect.

"A lot of people are disgusted with what is happening."

Final British bottle of HP sauce
16 Mar 07 |  West Midlands
Sauce protester takes to the roof
13 Mar 07 |  West Midlands
Bid to ban HP in Commons' canteen
13 Oct 06 |  West Midlands
Rival turns up heat on HP Sauce
28 Aug 06 |  West Midlands
Staff told of HP factory closure
23 Aug 06 |  West Midlands
Unions hopeful of HP Sauce rescue
24 Jul 06 |  West Midlands

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