For all the time I was commuting around the West Midlands, Fort Dunlop was a majestic but decaying landmark at the side of the M6, made rather romantic by its name.
More recently it has been refurbished and converted to swish retail and office space with hotel and who know what other facilities.
Here’s a photograph from 1968, taken by Phyllis Nicklin. This is one of a large number of photographs of Birmingham taken by Nicklin between 1953-1969 and made available online by the University of Birmingham.
Last week the BBC broadcast a charming radio documentary about the Dunlop factory. It’s available via iPlayer for another three days and I really do recommend listening. The documentary was made by Giles Poyner, who works at a design company in the reinvented Fort Dunlop, but his mother, grandfather and greatgrandfather all worked for the Dunlop Tyre Company and his grandfather has much to tell about the experience. It’s all very different from the modern experience of work – Dunlop was a community with a drama society, cricket matches, football teams and the kind of facilities we now look for outside the workplace.
Via 7 Inch Cinema, I also found a series of postcards sent back home by a Dunlop employee who worked at the factory in Kobe, Japan in the late 1920s. There isn’t much detail in the messages, but they manage to convey the flavour of an expat life and an obsessive interest in cricket and football. The postcard images are lovely.