It’s a sad thing, but the last tyres came off the production line at ‘Cooper Tires’ in Melksham at the end of 2023; we’d know them better as Avon Tyres.
The factory itself closed its doors on December 20, after 112 years of producing (often) world-beating tyres for four-wheelers and two. Back in October 2022 the Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, Europe, announced plans to close the Melksham site, saying it was no longer competitive, leaving 350 staff on notice of redundancy.
The factory had been a cornerstone of the Melksham community for generations with thousands of people working there and having family or friends employed there.
During the last shift, employee Alan Yates cured the final tyres – it’s nice to know that some of the last tyres to be made were for vintage motorcycles. On the Melksham News website, Alan – who is now going to retire – said: “It’s quite weird really, quite an historical moment. It feels quite sad to be winding down now. Some of the lads have been here nearly 40 years. I have done a couple of different roles around here and I have really enjoyed my time, it’s been brilliant. It’s been a good bunch of people. I was here when they had the 100-year centenary. I have also seen a lot of changes. What with the takeover of Goodyear and Cooper Tires that took it over from Avon, it’ll be interesting to see what happens to the site. I grew up in Melksham as a kid, I can remember the big fire here. I had relations that worked here. My brother worked here in the 70s, and uncles and aunts, it’s been a big employer.”
We will be celebrating Avon’s long history in 2024 with a suitable feature.