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Today, it's widely acknowledged that the agricultural machinery business of “Jones Balers”, once based in Rhosesmor and Mold/Yr Wythgrugg was a part of North Wales' rich, post-war industrial legacy. State-of-the-art in their own time, even now, Jones Baler harvesting machines attract worldwide interest and respect for their design ingenuity, sturdy functionality and durable build-quality. When they were first exported at scale to eager markets on several continents, Jones products made a valued contribution to the UK's mid-20c economic recovery.

This interview, featuring one-time Jones employee, John Bumby was conducted in 2011. Accompanied by Noel Jones, son of the eponymous agricultural-baler business co-founder Glynn Jones, I arranged to visit and chat with John at his home in Penygroes, Caernarfon. Long retired from lecturing at nearby Coleg Glynllifon, my subject had acquired a following as a raconteur of his years spent, first learning his craft as an apprentice and, subsequently as development engineer at the Jones Baler works. Our purpose was to capture for the record, something of the history of an evolving enterprise through the first-hand experiences and workplace recollections of an industry veteran. John would have many stories to tell to my camera.

The story begins with John leaving a village school in rural North Wales. He recounts of his teenage passion for all things mechanical and the varied challenges, opportunities and experiences that came his way as he commenced a career within a family-run concern that designed and made the farm machinery he so loved. He explains how his career progressed as his skills matured and he recollects some of the people and attitudes he encountered along the way to becoming a valued player with the Jones firm during its years of world-leading product development and growth.

John reacts warmly to my questions as my curiosity ranges over social and technical topics. With not a little wry humour, he offers a glimpse of factory life and insights on the work and social conditions of post-war, 1950s Britain. His enthusiastic responses are accompanied by photographs from the Jones' family archives and some -previously unseen- informal film footage.

My film is an attempt to explore, not just work-place experiences of a past era, but also, aspects of entrepreneurial endeavour that gave one rural Welsh enterprise of humble beginnings, world-wide recognition. I hope future generations might learn and be inspired by this first-hand account of the development of skills, management ethos and the tribulations and successes of an important, independent North Wales employer.

© John Butler 28 January 2024

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