The Cadbury’s chocolate factory near Bristol has finally closed its doors for the last time.
Forty staff headed to the Somerdale factory social club for a drink together before leaving for good after owners, US food giant Kraft, switched production to Poland.
Workers downed tools at 1pm and left the plant which has produced dipped chocolate bars and also made Fry’s Chocolate Creams since it opened in 1919.
Huge cranes and lorries parked outside waited to load heavy machinery that will be shipped to the new plant in Poland.
The final Double Deckers rolled off the production line in January after the confectionary brand’s new owners Kraft announced the closure of the premises
The American food giant originally promised to keep the Cadbury factory during its hostile £11.9 billion pound takeover of the much-loved British firm.
But they announced plans in March to put 64 acres of land on the market with outline proposals to build 600 homes on the site.
Workers who had campaigned to save the plant left with an air of dignity and resignation to enjoy a final drink in Fry’s Social Club.
One said: ”The overwhelming feeling is sadness. At one stage there was 5,000 people working here and we are the last of those.
”Cadbury was like a big family and it was a great company to work for. It felt like people actually cared about one another.
”It is terrible and really sad that it ended like this.”
Another member of staff told of their fear at searching for employment after spending their whole working life at the factory.
They said: ”I have worked here since I left school more than 30 years ago and to be honest with you it is a bit frightening.
”All I have ever known is working for Cadbury and I have never had to sign on or be on the dole before.
”Cadbury was a great company to work for and when they announced they were closing the factory they did everything they could to help us.
”We have been well looked after and they have tried to help us find new jobs.”
At its height, the Somerdale factory produced 52,000 tonnes of chocolates each year, including Caramel, Picnic, Chomps, Mini Eggs and Turkish Delight.
Cadbury took the original decision to close Somerdale, but Kraft’s chief executive Irene Rosenfeld promised to would reverse the decision taken by the previous management.
Last February, within a week of Kraft’s £11.9billion offer winning shareholder approval, Kraft shocked union leaders and politicians by announcing the plant would close.
Kraft said Cadbury had already invested more than £100million in improving its Polish factories.
Another worker said that the last few staff left behind to dismantle machinery had done little but cleaning during their final months.
He said: ”There is only a small handful of management left and the rest of the people in there are contractors taking apart machinery.
”To be honest there hasn’t been a lot to do in the factory for about three months and we have been bored.
”We work 12-hour shifts and for plenty of that time we have been sitting around doing nothing. We have done a little bit of cleaning.
”They are sealing up the factory and we have not been allowed to go back inside because the management said it was not safe.”
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