“IF you got a job at Crosfields you’d made it,” says 92-year-old Diana Kerr reminiscing on her days at the company as a shorthand typist. 

With Unilever having announced the potential closure of its Crosfields site, Warrington could soon be saying goodbye to one of its historical landmarks.

Diana, from Grappenhall, was shocked to hear the news and still looks back on her seven years at Joseph Crosfield and Sons with fond memories.

She joined the firm when she was just 16 in 1943 and remembers how the typists worked upstairs.

Warrington Guardian:

Diana Kerr with a picture from when she worked at Crosfields

She said: “When a certain bell rang it meant your department needed you. 

“I worked in the accounts department. 

“They were a wonderful firm to work for.

“If you got a job at Crosfields you’d made it. It was Warrington.”

In 1814 Joseph Crosfield, a former grocer, set up his soap and chemical production plant at Bank Quay in a disused factory.  Raw materials could easily be transported via the Mersey, and by the 1860s Crosfields had become one of the top five soap producers in the country.

Armed with her 120 words-per-minute shorthand, Diana was paid 30 shillings per week during her time as an employee.

She said: “You had to work hard.

“There was no time for gossip. 

“Although they were strict they were fair.”

Warrington Guardian:

Crosfields in the 1960s

One of Diana’s strongest memories is walking through the doors in the morning and smelling the laundry scent, which many Warrington residents will miss if the factory closes.

Diana explained: “Crosfields itself was really lovely. 

“When you went through the doors in the morning I can still remember the smell, it was sprayed everywhere like perfume. 

READ MORE > Warrington's history of soap making

“It was all green granite like a palace and there was the most beautiful staircase.

“There were little boys, about 14, and they were all smartly dressed and instead of a phone, they would go around delivering messages.”

Outside of working life, there were added extras to Crosfields which contributed to Diana’s happy memories.

She said: “Because I was under 18 I was allowed to have hot chocolate. They also had a large van every month and it came around to all the employees’ houses full of chopped logs for you to burn in your fire because of coal rations. 

Warrington Guardian:

Sunny Lowry

“There was a swimming club and Sunny Lowry, who was the cousin of Lowry the artist, taught me to dive – I was terrified!

“Then about twice a year we would go to Liverpool to the Empire Theatre and watch beautiful stage shows.”

Diana left the company in 1950 after she married, as the company did not employ married women at the time.