Former Managing Director and Divisional Managing Director Rodney Noon gave us his Britax Memories which began with his father Ernest Noon who established PGM Thorpe Ltd as it was then known in the old Turner Brothers Candlewick Factory on Bessingby industrial estate in 1963.
It was then that the Noon family moved to Bridlington from Shropshire.
Ernest Noon was a rubber technologist who had worked for Dunlop for many years and then Philip Thorpe the then owner of PGM Thorpe asked him to set up a rubber moulding factory in Bridlington, then a development area, to make components for use in lamps, warning beacons and wiper blades for truck, tractor and caravan manufacturers.
At the Bridlington site metal pressings, bulb holders, lamp assemblies and rubber mouldings were made. Chrome and zinc plating was introduced later together with a paint finishing plant. The rubber was produced from raw rubber imported from Malaysia mixed on two rubber mills and moulder into lamp cushions and housings for rubber head lamps.
The business expanded and more units were added on Bessingby industrial estate taking in Frenchg’s ice cream factory and the Boat Yard. By the late 1960s and 70s expansion continued at Bessingby and the company also acquired two factory units on Pinfold Lane where the majority of plastic mouldings and lenses used in lamps were made.
Unfortunately the session hit hard in the 1980s and operations had to be scaled down with the workforce falling from 470 to just 80. The Pinfold Lane site had to close and all component manufacturing had to cease and was outsourced. Steadily the market improved and the business began to grow again.
New contracts were won in the UK and around the world and Britax started distribution companies in Australia, Germany and France who were selling the products made in Bridlington, and still do so today.
Quality and performance awards were received from many customers.
Rodney Noon joined the company in 1968 and worked for the group for 37 years, starting as a management trainee.
“I spent many happy years in sales and marketing both in the UK and overseas, before taking over from my father as managing director when he retired in 1981 and eventually became divisional managing director,” said Mr Noon who met his wife Sue, his father’s secretary at Britax and retired from the company in 2005.
“The company is like one large family and most people living in Bridlington would know someone who has worked for Britax at some time and I suspect enjoyed their time there and have happy memories, as I know I have,” he said.