Jarrow company which once made Spitfire parts is set to close

Engineering firm H Mullins, Western Road, Jarrow, is set to close at the end of the month, due to a lack of orders.
Engineering firm H Mullins, Western Road, Jarrow, is set to close at the end of the month, due to a lack of orders.
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A precision engineering company in South Tyneside, which once made parts for Spitfire fighter planes, is on collision course with closure.

Family-owned H.Mullins (Earby) Ltd, of Western Road, Jarrow, has been a long-standing supplier for the defence industry, but is set to close at the end of this month.

The firm once made parts for the iconic Spitfire fighter plane.

The firm once made parts for the iconic Spitfire fighter plane.

Established in 1941 and originally based in Earby, Lancashire, the company made parts for the undercarriages of the famous Second World War fighter.

Much later it was rewarded with a certificate issued by Vickers Defence Systems outlining its assistance in Operation Granby during the first Gulf War in 1991.

But after its years of distinguished service in protecting the nation, the company is set to close on July 31 due to a falling order book.

All 14 remaining staff have been issued with notices saying their employment will terminate on that date.

The move comes despite the company, whose skilled workforce provide turning, milling, design and fabrication services, adapting to the latest developments in oil and gas industries.

The news is another body blow to Jarrow’s manufacturing tradition after the announcement last week that Essentra Filter Products on the Bede Industrial Estate was to close its doors.

Managing director Mark O’Rourke, whose grandfather Jack O’Rourke bought out the original owner Harry Mullins in the early 1960s, confirmed the factory is due to close on July 31 but declined to comment further.

Management are still believed to be hoping for a new order to provide a last-minute reprieve, while also preparing to exit the site.

The company did suffer a similar dip in fortunes in 2009 when the workforce fell to just five, before a new contract at the time helped give it a lease of life and took the workforce back up to 30.

A member of the workforce, who did not wish to be named, said: “I think the remaining 10 workers on the shopfloor are pretty resigned to its closure and have received notices to terminate their employment on July 31.

“They can’t see anything changing between now and then.

“It will be a sad day because the company has a long and proud history. The workers have been doing odds and sods of work recently, but no whole components, and they could see the writing was on the wall.

“Some of the workers have been there for 30 years and most are just hanging on until they get their pay-offs and will then start looking for new jobs.”

Founded in 1941 at Earby in Lancashire, H Mullins (Earby) Ltd. is a well-established sub-contract precision engineering company which has successfully manufactured for and supplied to both the Ministry of Defence and commercial customers for many years.

The company re-located from Lancashire to Jarrow’s Bede Industrial Estate in the early 1960s – after receiving a grant incentive to do so – and moved to its current site in 1973.

The move to the Western Road site was later followed by current MD Mr O’Rourke’s father, John, taking over as factory boss.

In 2007, the factory was evacuated following a chemical leak and two staff were treated for breathing problems following the incident.

The company was always renowned for the long service of its employees and in 2008 production manager Ian Phipps, who remains at the plant, was rewarded for his 40 years with the firm.