Our visit to Jacksons

WyjaCEPGkl4hwYyonfTDvQKVomrrgISeijJmTTtAw9I When we got the offer to go and visit Jacksons we jumped at the chance. They are a very well known Kentish company and one whose work can be seen in every town in the UK (and even abroad).

We left Lucan with Granny and Grandad as we assumed that it was not the best place to have a curious 2 year old running about. We poled up to their 20 acre site at around 10.30 on Saturday morning. It was bitterly cold but we were eagerly awaited by Richard Jackson… the man himself. Richard and his family have owned the business for generations and he proudly showed us some fantastic photos of his father, grandfather and some of their old trucks. First impressions were that not much has changed… how wrong we were.

Richard himself came across as a very relaxed and unassuming sort of guy but with an obvious passion for his products. His company for the 2 hours we were there was very pleasant indeed!O7-2atEwLGBpR0NV2qmkSTwvMEiO9cRAl_-xxvQjXC8

Jackson’s are well known for making wooden fencing and that is the part of the factory we visited first. We entered a large building, like an airplane hanger, housing countless separate work stations. Each station contained a jig and/or a dangerous looking bit of machinery for chopping/shaping wood.   Richard was quick to point out that as it was Saturday there were far less people in than usual but there was still a flurry of activity about the place… perhaps because the boss just walked in!?!

I am a sucker for tools and was fascinated by much of what was going on but what really stuck me was the precision. Richard was keen to point out that quality was at the foremost of what they were trying to achieve. He said that, unlike in other businesses, his guys were not paid per piece and so if something was not up to standard they could discard it. That seemed like a pretty neat policy to us.

The business has grown dramatically under Richards’s tenure, they now have over 200 employees. I took the opportunity to ask him if he still remembers all of his employees names. Rather bashfully, he said that a combination of success and advancing age means that that is becoming more difficult than it used to be.

Jacksons also make acoustic fencing built to minimise the level of noise pollution, say next to a motorway. I asked him if he could recognise his product, over that of a competitor, when he was doing 70 down the M25… he claimed he could but I would like to test this one day!

4zleoDkObshNfaB3-MHgHKAZCjpJ4U8ll-NiRQCL6I4Now, I am a big fan of wood working but my real passion is dirty, greasy metal work. I was not disappointed. We next entered an equivalent seperate hanger for metal working. The look and feel of this places was very different to where they do the wood stuff. Firstly, it was empty of workers (the metal guys do not do Saturdays… and who can blame them) but also there is  thick layer of black grease over everything and the bitter smell of oil and iron… it was fantastic! I think Emily was too concerned about not touching anything though.

It is in this room that they make gates and bespoke fencing products, even stuff for prisons. I felt somewhat reassured that these guys are responsible for keeping the bad guys behind bars.

Next we visited, what they like to bill as their own “Little Chelsea flower show”. It is a collection of gardens created by designers which they use to showcase some of their products. Admittedly the start of March is perhaps not the best point of the year to really do them justice but it gave us some great ideas for our own garden. They are planning some events in the summer so we will hopefully get in invite back when everything is in full bloom.y61QsaKQQHqC-ZJtBa39F0kBFUR_OuSB9n-QjJursPc

Part of our reason to visit was really to get some ideas for sorting out our own garden. We want to create a raised bed 12m long by 1m width running along the side of our house and need to source a simple and cost effective way, of creating it. We also need to sort out the wall in our front garden, which is close to falling down. It would be nice to replace this with an ornate metal fence somehow. They are going to get back to us with some proposals.

After being shown the site we went back inside for a tea and a chat. It was freezing out, so the tea was most welcome.

What we really liked was Richard’s obvious passion for continuing to manufacture in the UK. He said that it was possible that he could save a little bit of money by using foreign contractors to make many of his products but he never will. He said that if his stuff is made on site then he knows the quality will remain and that if there are any issues the buck stops with him.

Ultimately, we had a great morning with Jackson’s and feel that we have met some great allies in promoting British manufacturing.     

 

Comments

  1. At another British Jackson engineering firm, we do get greasy with metal and machines, but I’m afraid you won’t be buying from us, since we (Edward Jackson Engineer Ltd) supply machinery to the world’s paintroller and brush manufacturing industry. Unfortunately, very few paintrollers are still made in Britain and much of our machinery is sent around the world (even British firm Harris produce many of their products in China), but at least the machinery they were made on was made in Britain!

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