Did you imagine that such a thing as a ‘Euro-standard turd’ would exist? Neither did I until I visited the testing department of Thomas Dudley, the amazing engineering company based in Dudley. Whilst engineering giants like Vickers have been sold down the river by incompetent shareholder appointed managers, Thomas Dudley is benefiting from family ownership that sees a bright future for UK manufacturing and is investing family money, and millions of it, to ensure the company continues and thrives.Designers will be familiar with Thomas Dudley from their stands at the various interiors trade shows but may be forgiven for thinking that toilet cisterns were the company’s major product. The ‘Euro turd’ forms a small, but important, part of the flush testing process – more of that later. Whilst this is important the company continues to invest in research and development and the linked production technologies on its factory sites in Dudley.
Located in a building on the side of the site overlooking an art school sculpture studio, the new multi-million pound moulding line in the foundry contains a new automated casting capacity which vastly increases production capabilities. It is here that a small group of technicians are developing vandal proof toilets and wash hand basins in new polymer materials. Internationally renowned comedy star Lenny Henry inaugurated the new foundry capabilities and you may well ask, “why him?” Well, he hales from – yep, you’ve guessed it – Dudley!
This part of the British Midlands was at the heart of many of the processes created in the Industrial Revolution. Whilst the North West was the creative centre for the weaving industry and its share of the Industrial Revolution, Dudley was at the heart of the Midlands revolution in metal working. On a coal field just up the road from Ironbridge, named for its own creative evolution of iron working, Thomas Dudley has survived whilst government, management and unions have conspired to destroy the regions once great engineering heritage. Thomas Dudley is one of a few names surviving and thriving in an area littered with the names of giants that no longer exist – Morris, Austin, Norton, English Electric, the list seems an endless epitaph to English self-destructiveness and managerial incompetence.
No such incompetence at Thomas Dudley as the owners and management team forge a future based on innovation, quality control and smart production.