YOU never forget a job you loved, well that’s what many of the thousands of workers at the Lesney Products (later Matchbox Toys) factory thought of their time there.

Documents from Rochford District Archive show Lesney Products was named after its two founders Leslie and Rodney Smith (‘Les’ from Leslie and the ‘ney’ from Rodney) It was started as an industrial die-casting company in 1947 and until the early 1980s Lesneys was one of the most important employers in the area.

Margaret Mier asked the questions on the Echo’s ‘We Grew Up In Essex’ Facebook group: “Who worked at Lesneys aka Matchbox Toys in Rochford?”

Replies came flooding in of memories working at the factory. Mark Wilson said: “I did 10 years there, best job ever and fantastic pay” and Chris Murphy was a fitter in workshop and remembers being friends with Betty Allsop, a machine operator.

The factory was open all day and night and special buses brought workers from Shoebury, Southend and Rayleigh. Many women were able to take part-time shift work to supplement their income.

Tony Mayhew said: “Great to see a picture of the Lesney bus, for a long time a common sight around the town.”

Gina Gibson worked there during the Eighties and remembers “making car transporters.” Rachel Gibbons said: “My mum worked there. Think many people in the area worked there at some point.”

Linda Cole said: “I started in the spray shop then became quality control for foundry, good times.”

Lynne Simpson said: “My Mum worked there in the Seventies. A bus used to pick people up from Shoeburyness to take them to Rochford.”

At one time, the company employed over 2,000 people. When business began to wane, the company changed to Matchbox.

The factory was eventually closed and a housing estate was built on the site.