Thanks to a combined effort by BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s breakfast show, the Nailsworth Repair Cafe and engineering company, Spirax Sarco, an iconic piece of Stroud’s manufacturing and engineering heritage has been restored and, on Thursday 6th April, was sounded again for the first time in 42 years.
The whistle, blown to mark the start and end of each working day, as well as lunchtimes, at The Holloway Brothers’ Steam Sewing Works, was given to Alan Bassett, the company’s boiler engineer and caretaker, when the company closed down in 1975. His daughter, Faye Woodward, inherited the whistle, and it sat on her mantelpiece at home until earlier this year when her brother asked the Mark Cummings Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Gloucestershire if any listener could repair it. The skills of the Nailsworth Repair Café coaxed out a gentle sound and then Cheltenham engineering company, Spirax Sarco, kindly stepped in using their steam propulsion equipment to restore it to full working order and produce the sound which for years reverberated around the Stroud valleys.
On Thursday 6th April, the Mark Cummings Breakfast Show brought the whistle back to the factory’s location Brick Row and, with the help of a traction engine, Faye blew the whistle once more. Reports from residents who heard the whistle came from all corners of Stroud – Rodborough, Slad Valley, Whiteshill, Ruscombe and even as far away as Painswick and Eastington!