A LENS manufacturer has recently celebrated 50 years of production in Thornbury.

Essilor has been making contact and prescription lenses at its factory site in Cooper Road since 1974.

The firm even temporarily stopped work, so the anniversary could be marked throughout the factory on Thursday, July 4 with an American-themed party.

More than 300 members of staff celebrated with entertainment, games, food and a birthday cake.

The site produces 50,000 lenses a year for global brands such as Essilor, Stellest lenses, Eyezen and Varilux and Crizal.

Commercial general manager Tim Precious spoke of Essilor’s proud heritage for both Thornbury, and the optical industry
He said: “We are grateful to have such a loyal workforce here who form the backbone of our operation and want to take this opportunity to thank them. 
“As a manufacturer for premium brands, we’ve focussed our attention over the years on the quality of products produced and the service we provide to independent optical practices. 
“Considerable changes have taken place over the past decade, and we’ve invested heavily in new technology to help maintain the lab as a centre of excellence for lens production. 
“We now run a process in surfacing that cuts out the use of alloy completely, making lens production a much more sustainable process. 

“We also recycle all the water used in surfacing while ECO kits have been installed on our pumping systems in the vacuum chambers to reduce our carbon footprint. 
“In addition, we’ve expanded the lab’s glazing facility with the recent installation of a new automated line, which is now fully operational.”
“Looking ahead, we will continue to invest in our workforce, the latest technology in terms of manufacturing processes and environmental enhancements, and look forward to seeing what the next 50 years bring.”