Journey from pit to paint factory

Former colliery blacksmith David Chapman, process operator at AkzoNobel Ashington.
Former colliery blacksmith David Chapman, process operator at AkzoNobel Ashington.

Since opening its doors, AkzoNobel in Ashington has created hundreds of new employment opportunities for people in the local area.

Former colliery blacksmith David Chapman is one of several ex-miners now employed at the hi-tech, automated flagship paint plant.

He spent more than eight years working at Ashington Colliery – the former colliery site is a short distance away from the new AkzoNobel facility – until its closure in 1986.

The 54-year-old was then employed by Alcan and a large pharmaceutical manufacturer before his current role as a process operator.

But according to David, who is one of more than 150 employees responsible for the high quality standards and presentation of products such as Cuprinol, Hammerite, Polycell and Dulux in more than 33,000 different colours, it has been the last two years that he has spent at AkzoNobel Ashington which has brought back reminders of the unity he was once part of as a miner.

He said: “There was a real community spirit that existed during my pit days and that is one of the things which the plant, despite its high technology and fully automated systems, has encouraged and fully embraced.

“Everyone, no matter how diverse their background, pulls together as a team, learns from each other and supports one another and this is a great show of strength for the company and the region.”

David added: “I work with a great group of people and it is our responsibility to ensure each tin of paint is of the same high standard as the last.”