Following the news that a group of local businessmen have joined together to safeguard the future of the Matrix site at East Mill - to be known as The Coventry Gauge Estates - one of the original workers reminisces on the factory’s heyday.
Jim Buchan, started working at the Coventry Gauge and Tool factory the week the war started in September 1939 when he was the company’s 46th employee.
He started work as a machine operator. By the time that he left, in 1980, Jim had worked his way up to a director.
“When the factory first opened the only building was that of the War Department,” remembered Jim. “Surrounding the building was fields of cattle.
“The water in the back building just ran off the roof, no spouts, into soak-aways, so they had to put drains all round the building and put in spouts.
“The gas tank (pictured at the top right of the photo), was put in because at the height of the war, when there was 1000 workers working double shifts, the gas pipes were just not coping.
“At the end of the war they started building work on the Naval department.
“It was very restrictive in the factory. We all had badges. We had armed people on the gates. My father was one of them because he was a first world war soldier.
“During the war workers were sent here but the Government from Glasgow and all over and when the war stopped they could make their way back.
“You were controlled by the National Service.
“One of the buildings was the gun shop - where we made the anti-aircraft guns.
“They had a bit piled up on the hill for a target.
“To test the guns there was three rolling roads, that simulated the sea conditions, and when the gun turned and pointed to the target it had to stay there, it could not move no matter what was happening.
“At the site we had the canteen, our own ambulance and fire brigade.
“We had a pond, deliberately dug for a reservoir for fires. We also had our own home guard.
“We then went on the machine tools, which was the main Coventry Gauge thing.
“Right up to the end we were making machines up to 30 tonnes, sending them all around the world.
“Just before I retired, maybe three or four years, we had to make redundancies but most of the time it was a 500-person factory – we even won the award for safety for a factory of 500 employees in Britain.”
New owners, Kevin Mackie, Jack Souttar, Sandy Pittendreigh and John Milne have already invested a seven-figure sum in the site and hope to bring more businesses to Brechin following the modernisation of buildings on the site.