Recording memories of Ferrograph, which made top-notch tape machines in South Shields

It’s remarkable to think that the voices of people from all around the world could have, at one time, been recorded on tape machines made here on South Tyneside.

Tuesday, 7th May 2019, 11:01 am
Updated Tuesday, 7th May 2019, 11:16 am
Supervisor Terri Dutton puts a tape machine through its paces at the Ferrograph factory.

Yet such was the popularity of the reel to reel machines made at the former Ferrograph (one-time Wright and Weaire’s) factory in South Shields, that they will have undoubtedly recorded hour upon hour of conversation – possibly even involving Royalty, politicians and important people from the past.

Reminders of the machines’ importance, among those who could afford them, comes from former Ferrograph worker Brenda Evans, who got in touch when we featured two photos of ex-employees recently.

A worker operates a coil winder at the Ferrograph factory in South Shields.

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Brenda, whose maiden name was Anderson, started work at the old Newcastle Road factory in 1963.

She recognised one of the women in our picture as supervisor Terri Dutton, though she cannot recall the name of the other.

However, both pictures brought back happy memories for Brenda, who worked in the stores.

“The top recorders of the day were made at the Newcastle Road factory,” said Brenda.

Ferrograph's products would be used at events such as press conferences.

“They were top of the range and were sent all over the world.

“The BBC used them for Royal visits and the like.

“The Army also used them, and we had a big contract with them.”

Brenda said they were also on sale to the general public, but they were out of the range of most people’s pocket.

“Being top of the range, they were very expensive.”

The factory itself was a “happy place” to work, recalls Brenda, who started there when she was 18 and left eight years later to have her son.

“Everybody who worked there loved their time there,” she said.

“It was a happy factory to work in. There were also a lot of marriages involving people who worked there, with boys meeting girls there.”

Brenda, who remembered former managing director Mr Niblet, said there have been a number of Ferrograph reunions over the years, though not recently as far as she knows.

The factory, she concluded, moved to Hebburn some time after she left.

With Ferrograph tape recorders being used at home and abroad during some of the most turbulent times in the world’s history, it makes you wonder just who and what was recorded on their reels?

Perhaps you can shed more light on the recordings, along with the people who made them and the factory they worked in?

As ever, please get in touch with your thoughts on this and any other subject.