Engineering has played a crucial role in the history of East and South London.

The region has always been home to small engineering workshops but from the late 19th century vast engineering works were constructed on both sides of the Thames. By 1951 a third of the entire British engineering workforce worked in London.

Ford in Dagenham was the largest with 30,000 workers but, across the Thames Gateway, companies such as the Royal Arsenal and Siemens at Woolwich, Fraser & Chalmers in Erith and Vickers in Crayford employed thousands, including many women.

A great range of products were made, from guns to violins. Communities developed amongst the people employed in these large factories.

Many workers fondly recall there being a ‘family’ atmosphere. Several generations of the same family would often work for the company and jobs were life.

Although all these factories closed in the final decades of the 20th century, the camaraderie lives on.