AS Lister Petter announces its departure, and Lister Shearing considers its future, Dursley looks back on the legacy left by the founding company
2:00pm Friday 15th February 2013 in News By Daniel Chipperfield, senior reporter covering Dursley, Cam, Wotton-under-Edge, Sharpness, Slimbridge, Berkeley, Coaley, Uley, North Nibley, Stinchcombe and Cambridge
AT ITS height, the original engineering firm R A Lister and Co employed over 4,000 people in the area and their products, from their famous Lister engines to dairy equipment, garden furniture and even bins, could be found all over the world.
Founded in 1867, the family-owned company prospered in the middle of the 20th century and became a world-renowned name in engineering, putting Dursley on the map in doing so.
Chairman of Dursley Heritage Centre Catherine Pierce said that Lister had been the town’s "saviour" and without it there would not have been a Dursley.
"So many people came into Dursley at that time for five years or so to get their apprenticeships and then would take their expertise around the world, so Dursley was known far and wide, it kept the town up to date," she said.
"They built houses for the workers. It was a family run business and they wanted to look after them, almost everybody in the town was working there, or knew somebody working there.
"It was a paternal company, even Lister Hall was built for the apprentices to join so they didn’t cause trouble up the road in other pubs in the evening."
One gentleman who will remember the company fondly is Les Pugh, 98, who worked at the Dursley factory his entire working life.
Mr Pugh started his 49-year career in the foundry after finishing school at 16 in 1931 and approached George Lister, son of founder Sir Robert Ashton Lister, for work.
"I couldn’t get a job because of the depression. I was really frightened, I had never done anything like that before," he said.
"George Lister said he would see what he could do. He was my mentor."
Mr Pugh, who now lives in Stonehouse after retiring in 1980, would cycle every morning from Eastlington to the factory for a 7.30am start.
"They were employing up to 3,000 people at the time. It was like a madhouse in the morning, people would clock-in on those old punching machines," he said.
"It was a very rewarding job. I got complete and absolute job satisfaction.
"I was quite upset really when I heard the news, Dursley was Listers and Listers was Dursley, nearly all the people worked in the factory."