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The Iron Duke Returns

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Film maker Will Sansom spent 18 months following the Iron Duke's restoration process. By interviewing retired workers and speaking to local historians he began to understand the vast significance of the rubber works and their role in global industrialization. He says he really enjoyed following the Iron Duke on its journey back to Bradford on Avon and met many interesting people involved in the restoration. The grand unveiling was the culmination of a truly fascinating project and hopefully the Iron Duke monument will provoke the interest of residents and visitors about the town's illustrious heritage.

The newly-restored machine was officially unveiled at its new home in Kingston Road at noon on Saturday September 24th 2016. The public ceremony was followed by a programme of entertainment in the Northern Vaults and Lamb Yard, with stalls, stands, and an exhibition of collaborative, specially-commissioned artwork by local artist Serena Pugh and Bath-based poet Hannah Teasdale. The theme was the Avon Rubber Factory. A further exhibition, ‘The Occasion’ work by artists Mervyn Grist and Julie Smith was based around the marriage bouquet of Jack Moulton and Beryl Greene who were married in Singapore in 1914. The bouquet is part of the Moulton Archive at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre.

Three films relating to the Avon Rubber factory, produced as a result of collaboration between film-makers and volunteers, was shown in the Vaults in Lamb Yard.

‘The Iron Duke’s Progress’, by Will Sansom of Close Range Films, showed the journey of the Iron Duke from its heyday on site to its return to the town. ‘Remembering The Avon’ filmed by Positive Images, a local charitable trust with a national reputation for its social documentaries, included interviews and reminiscences by more than 30 former Avon factory workers, and some of their younger relatives; comparing the lives and times of then and now. And ‘Our Black Hole’ captured performance poetry written by young Bradfordians, led by Hannah Teasdale, considering the factory’s mixing department, known as the ‘Black Hole’, and life in a post-Avon town.

Music in Lamb Yard featured young singer/songwriters Zoe Newton and Joel Francis, and three-piece Indie rock band Socket, from Chippenham.