Sapa suit donated to museum to help conserve its history

Banbury photographer and graphic designer Rosy Burke is pictured with Christiane Jeuckens, collections officer at Oxfordshire Museums Services. NNL-150219-120418001
Banbury photographer and graphic designer Rosy Burke is pictured with Christiane Jeuckens, collections officer at Oxfordshire Museums Services. NNL-150219-120418001

A Sapa Profiles Remelt protective suit worn by workers at the former Alcan aluminium factory in Banbury has been donated to Oxfordshire Museum Services.

It has been given by Rosy Burke, a graphic designer and photographer based in the town.

After hearing about the closure of the Southam Road site in 2008, she produced an archive of 2,000 photos which featured the Remelt and Extrusions processes, the exteriors and interiors and portraits of staff.

She said: “It seemed like all the Banburians I spoke to had relations that had worked there, including their grandparents. There was a great deal of reverence locally towards the place.

“As the daughter of a metallurgist and engineer, I am fascinated by metal processess so it was a chance to preserve it with a photographic record before it was demolished.

“I asked for the suit as I could see it being exhibited in the future alongside the photos to bring them alive.”

The suit comprises a helmet, jacket, trousers, shoes, gloves and ladle for testing the 700-degree aluminium plus some metal samples.

The factory was a major employer in the town from 1932 and produced the ‘first ever’ aluminium windows, doors and revolving doors, lamps, skirting boards and step edges in 1937.

Sir Edmund Hillary used ladders made by the factory in his ascent of Mount Everest in 1953.