I was intrigued to read an article by Guardian reporter Jessica Farrington about 92-year-old Diana Kerr, reminiscing about her time as a shorthand typist at Crosfields.

Of course, this was sparked by the announcement from Unilever that the Crosfields site could be closed because of the falling demand for the washing powder that’s made there.

Personally, I think the Crosfields site is a blot on the landscape and while my heart goes out to the people who might lose their jobs, perhaps Warrington needs to stop looking to the past and start looking forward.

But some of the things Diana said really struck a chord with me (as I suspect they would with many people of a certain age).

When was the last time anyone could reasonably say they had a job for life? Yet 50 years ago, that was commonplace. Well it was for men.

In Warrington, we had soap works and wire works. A few miles down the road in Runcorn and Widnes, if you got a job at ICI, you were basically set for life.

I’m not pretending these jobs were glamorous; in fact they were anything but. Many of them were dangerous (health and safety hadn’t been invented then), yet once you got your foot in the door, you stayed. And there was every likelihood your son and then his son would follow you into the same factory.

Once upon a time, the three biggest ‘closed shops’ were said to be doctors, dockers and printers. I can’t swear with any certainty about dockers and doctors but the surest way to get an apprenticeship as a printer was to have a father or uncle who was a printer.

From my own experience, my father worked at a factory that was a 10-minute walk from our (council) house. It was the only job I ever knew him to have.

But it was punishing.

He worked a three-shift system – 6am to 2pm one week, the next week was 2pm to 10pm and the final shift was nights, 10pm to 6am.

His experience wasn’t unusual, it’s just the way it was. We were a manufacturing nation and men were needed to keep the wheels of industry turning.

Now I may be looking back with rose-tinted glasses but I do think there was a greater sense of community and camaraderie back then. And while the work at most of Warrington’s factories was dirty and dangerous (I don’t think many people these days would be rushing to join a company with the name Mersey White Lead) many of these companies did take some sense of responsibility for their workers.

I tried to learn to play snooker at a work’s club (I was hopeless). I spent many a happy hour drinking subsidised beer at the old Laporte’s Club on Hood Lane; I saw shows at Crosfield’s Centenary Theatre.

In fact, the town was awash with social clubs built and supported by companies for the benefit of their workers. (As an aside, these were all private members’ clubs and you could only get in if you worked for the company or were signed-in by an employee. Back in the days of much stricter alcohol licensing laws, private clubs could open at times when the pubs were shut, catering for workers finishing a 6-2 shift. Having a mate who could get you in was much prized when I was a teenager.)

Diana say Crosfields’ management were strict but fair, and she recalls other ways the company tried to look after its workers including a van that went round to employees’ houses to deliver chopped logs for the fire because of coal rationing; a swimming club and twice-yearly trips to the theatre in Liverpool.

All that is a far cry from today’s zero hours contracts jobs. I wonder what kind of employee care is in place at some of our huge edge of town warehouses.

And yes, things weren’t always better in the past, but I think there are a few lessons we could learn.

One final point. As much as Diana loved working at Crosfields, she had to leave in 1950 when she got married because the company ‘did not employ married women at the time’.

I wonder how that would go down if a company tried that today.