EYG welcomes former employees from Bridgewood which was destroyed in November inferno
5th January 2022
Former employees of the Bridgewood factory which was destroyed in a huge blaze just before Christmas have been speaking about their devastation at losing their livelihoods.
Four production workers from the Hessle factory, which burnt to the ground on November 24 last year, are now working at EYG after we reached out to them following the heartbreaking loss of their jobs just weeks before Christmas.
The four workers are now settled in at their new jobs in EYG’s aluminium and UPVC factories, and today opened up about their memories from that fateful day.
"Within minutes it had all gone up"
Michael Stevenson, who had been at Bridgewood for five months and is now manufacturing doors at EYG, was on shift when the fire started.
He said: “We were working when the alarm went off. Me and my mate looked at each other and then started to go out, thinking it was a drill. I left my car keys, my tools, everything, thinking I’d be back in 15 minutes. But within minutes it had all gone up.
”There was a lot of shouting of ‘get out, run!’ I remember turning around and looking back and smoke was bellowing out.”
He recalls borrowing a colleague’s phone to ring his wife – he’d left his inside the factory – and as she collected him an hour later, his four distraught young children were crying in the car.
For Norman Chappell, who had started working there two years previously, it was a home from home, working alongside friends and his son-in-law.
He said: “I’m older than a lot of the lads, I’m 56, and thought I’d be there until I retired. I was on earlies that day and left at 1.45pm, and I got a call to say there’d been a fire. It was just devastating.”
Ben Worth, who had worked at the Hessle factory for three years and is now employed in EYG’s aluminium factory, said: “It was fortunate that it was mid-shift as there were only about 40 of us at work.
“I was there when the fire started and I stuck around for about an hour. It started in the back of the factory, and at first we were told to wait and see whether we’d be back in, but then after about an hour we all started leaving.
“Once the gas cannisters started exploding, we knew it was over, there was no going back in.”
"I saw the flames from my back window"
Callum Ellerby, who had also been there for over three years, and is now part of EYG’s UPVC manufacturing team, said he lives just in the next street and was too worried to return home due to the ferocity of the inferno.
He said: “I got a text as I wasn’t at work, and it said there was a fire but I didn’t believe it. Then I looked out of the back window and saw the flames.
“It was just devastating to see. It wasn’t the best money doing that job, but for me it was all about the people I worked with.”
The four friends are now settled into their new jobs, with some starting before Christmas and some starting in the New Year, and they say they’ve been deeply touched by the out-pouring of love from the Hessle community who pledged thousands and supported them.
Norman said: “It’s been amazing to see the community response. Local pubs and businesses such as The Norland and Gymphobics have been brilliant, and our supervisor has worked really hard organizing the donations.
“It’s also been great to see how many businesses offered jobs too. It was really hard losing our jobs at Christmas, and in my family there was me and my son-in-law both affected and he has young children to support.”
The workers said they’re happy to be in employment and still working alongside some of their Bridgewood colleagues and friends.
Michael added: “It’s a similar working environment in the factory here and the lads are all decent. It’s a similar kind of feeling to how it was at Bridgewood, with many employees having been here for 30 years. And it’s nice we still get to work together.”
The men are all in agreement that, despite the hardships they have been through, the main thing is that no-one lost their lives in what was the biggest blaze to hit the region in many years.