Selo Factory Memories

Selo Factory Construction - 1921

The picture below was sent me by Sharon Ellis. It shows her Great Uncle, James Charles Emberson, working on the construction of the Selo Factory. James Charles is seated on the bricks, at the far left.

More recently, Ingrid Billings (nee Emberson) has also been in touch. James Charles Emberson was Ingrid's Grandfather. The Emberson family lived in Woodman Road almost next to the Selo Works and Ingrid's father, John Emberson, was born there. Unfortunately, a fire in the 1930s destroyed the terraced house, and also the one next door.

Ingrid tells me her father, John, worked at the Selo factory for many years and was also on the Selo Works Fire Brigade Team. Eventually, when the Selo factory closed (early 1980s), Ingrid's father transferred to the Mobberly site, commuting weekly from Brentwood.

He was a very keen amateur photographer and she has pictures and slides of herself when young, taken by her father. John worked in the Testing Department (Ingrid thinks) and she has pictures of him with others he worked with. He played for the Selo Bowls Team that had a Bowls Green further down Woodman Road. As a child of one of the workers, Ingrid remembers going to the social club Christmas party and also on a summer trip. A name that comes to her mind is "Uncle Taffy". She also recalls how the original social club transferred to a larger site.

Apart from her own family connections with Ilford, Ingrid has discovered that her husband's Grandmother also worked for Ilford Ltd, in Ilford, plus some other relatives as well.

The title reads:
"Ilford's New Factory, Warley, Essex, May 25th 1921"

Selo Factory - early 1930s

The first picture below was supplied by Anna Pearman who tells me "My family all worked at Selo ......."
Anna thought it might date to the 1960s, but the lack of any cars suggested earlier. It seems identical to the 1945 view (below) sent by Paul Littler, except for having the name SELO prominently in the foreground.
Thanks to Nicolas, webmaster of the 'Big Film Database' which includes help in identifying 'own brand' film manufacturers, the same picture has been found in a French book
dating to 1934.
So it seems the picture dates to the earliest times of the completed Selo factory.
The word SELO on the front lawn, prominent from the air, was presumably removed in 1939, at the start of war hostilities.

See also: The 'Selo' Factory in 1973 pictures by Bob Chaffee and comment by David Kilcast.


  All the following views of the Selo factory site, as developed for housing during 1985-87, and as it was in 1945-c1950, look south from Woodman Road
The factory itself was closed in early 1983.
(these pictures have been sent by Paul Littler who has lived in one of the houses on the previous factory land since 1986).


In 2001


Enlarged views, below.



View looking west along Woodman Road, approaching the Ilford 'Selo' Warley factory site entrance.
The entrance road became Brackens Drive in the mid-1980s redevelopment of the site.
My acknowledgements to Jennifer Ward for this picture, taken from her book “Brentwood~A History”.

Notice the sloping tiled edging to the pavement and compare it to the same in the picture opposite.
They still (2019) act as a remnant reminder of the Ilford site before its redevelopment.

Employees at Selo, Brentwood, Essex ~ 1960s

Below is another picture sent to me by Sharon Ellis. She says:

"I've recently been given a photo' taken sometime in the 1960s (I would think) of a group of employees at Selo Brentwood Essex.
It was given to me by a friend, whose father worked there for many years and has recently passed away. Her father was in the company fire brigade and when the friend got married in 1970, she had her wedding reception in the old hall. She also remembers Uncle Taffy, who would organise Christmas parties and dress up as Father Christmas."

"My friends Dad (named Sydney Bourdon) is in the front row, centre."



The above photograph has been recognised (February 2015) by Don Cornish, whose daughter, Trish Vincent, had previously sent me some reminiscences of her father working at Woodman Road.

Trish recalls that during the time her father worked at the Selo factory, Selo (Ilford, Ltd) put a telephone in their home in the early 1960s as her father was constantly dealing with strikes at the factory. He worked with Jack Nash, Roy Stevenson, Vic Bright, Tom Silver and many others. All these colleagues had children around the same age as herself and her two brothers, Derek and Andy (who still live in Brentwood near her parents). Her mother, Betty Cornish (née Marrett) also worked at Selo for a time. Trish remembers watching the Cup Final at the Selo factory social club and going on holiday with the children of Pat & Vic Bright. "We all went to the Selo Christmas party every year."

Don has sent his own reminiscences:
"I was employed by Ilford Ltd at Woodman Road, Brentwood from 1943 until 1984 and was Manager of the Sensitising Group from 1962 to 1978, working mainly at Brentwood but making numerous visits to Ilford subsidiaries at e.g. Lyon, Basle, Friborg and Valca (Bilbao). I recognise many of the people and illustrations on your website.
I knew many and various people from all levels of the organisation.
The group photograph (above) is a retirement photograph for Bill Bassam (a Shift Manager). It shows part of 'D' shift - I can still remember most of their names even though it was 40 years ago. I am in the photograph - top left - without white clothing. I have many such photographs. Even a group picture of the 'Selo Follies', which was a variety show in the 1940's-1950's performed by Selo employees Mon-Fri for other Selo employees and also the local Brentwood residents. We had lots of talent and were used to making our own entertainment in those days.
For information, the Sensitising Area had a 4 x 7 day and 3 x 5 day shift system working 24 hours per day (downtime on coating application machines was very expensive).
My final years with Ilford were involved with closing down the Woodman Road site and relocating and settling in some of the Essex employees to Mobberly.
My last two years were spent between Essex and Mobberley, Cheshire".

Dave Hawes, via Keith Walker, found the above comments by Don Cornish and added his own recollections. "When I joined Ilford Films, Selo Works, as an Assistant Departmental Manager, it was owned by ICI and Ciba Geigy in a 50/50 partnership (between 1963 and 1969). Later (from 1969) Ciba Geigy bought out ICI to own it 100%. I worked with the people mentioned by Don Cornish (above).
Vic Bright was my first boss, Jack Nash was Production Manager, Roy Stevenson was his Assistant. Other managers and assistants on the production side were Clive Tanner, Reg Floyd, Dave Clay, John Cresswell, Stan Ralph, Norman Smith and Eric Dalton. Jack Pratt was Head of Accounts, CJ Smith was Works Manager.
I am quite grateful to Ilford Films for its training programmes, which enabled me to gain Management qualifications which were more useful than a degree in Chemistry.

Another employee at the Selo Factory was Robert (Bob) Patience. Bob had previously been the tail gunner on a bombing raid over Hamburg in 1943, part of Operation Gomorrah to destroy Germany's second largest city. Their 'plane was badly shot up and the entire crew invalided out. Bob was able to supply Selo film to his Royal Navy chum, Ron Rendle. See their story in the 2017 'slot' of my Ilford Chronology.

Bob Patience is better known as the owner manager of The Barn restaurant and night club in Baintree, Essex, in which Ron was his partner. The Barn achieved notoriety in 1972 when it was the scene of an armed robbery and Bob Patience's wife Muriel was murdered. George Ince was arrested but later cleared, though jailed for his part in a bullion robbery. The Barn closed after New Year's Eve, 1977.


Picture supplied by Anna Pearman. She says this was taken at the Annual Selo Dinner, sometime during the 1960s
Mike Cotterill e-mailed (Feb 2020) to say that "the gentleman in the centre of the picture is my father, Percy Cotterill, who retired in 1975. He was the senior foreman at the time in Brentwood and received the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to industry. Sadly, his retirement only lasted two years.
Also in the picture is my mother in the floral dress, and (my mother's) cousin next to mother. Also half in shot, on the left, is my sister. To the right, seated behind, are Sid Wilson, also a Selo worker and his wife".


Selo Football Team

Vivian Bayliss has e-mailed (Feb 2016) to say ".....thought you might like to add these to your article about the Selo Factory. My father, Derek Bayliss (known as Dai; he came from Merthyr Tydfil, S. Wales ~ hence the name), was a keen footballer. He played for the Essex Regiment when he was in the army. When he was demobbed he played for Mountnessing in 1947/48 and was managed by the Selo manager Terry Gabb at the time. Dad then worked at the Selo in 1949 and played for the team. They ended up 9th in the Romford & District 1949/50 season. In the seasons leading up to this the team were mid-table. Then they won the league and cup double in the 1953/54 season.

When Viv's Dad left 'The Selo' he went on to work for NV Tools "down at Brentwood Station" and played for their company team.

These are all fond memories for Viv and he asks whether anybody else remembers these teams?

1949 Selo team

1949 Selo team

Viv's father, Dai Bayliss, is 2nd from the left, in the front row.
Not all of the team are known, but Viv says that C. Bawden, W. Price, L. Milton, V. Cross, J. Palmer, J. Bear, P. Smith, G. Spence and Davies are mentioned on the back of the photo.

1954 Selo team, Romford League and Cup Winners

1954 Selo team; Romford league and Cup winners

Back row: G. Wills, B. Price, T. Pringle, R. Willis, M. Stevenson, J. Morris, J. Smith, J. Copeland
Front row: B. Emberson, D. Bayliss, R. Stevenson, B. Hudson, J. Bear.

They not only won the league and cup but also went on to win the 'Film Cup', Brentwood Charity Cup, Battle of Britain Cup and were runners up in the Essex Cup.

Selo Soldiers at Brentwood Carnival

More pictures from Anna Pearman. The two on the left were taken at the Brentwood carnival. The men are dressed as'Selo Soldiers'.

    This image is from The Ilford Courier, Vol.3, No.2, June 1934. The Selo costumes could be hired by trade photo' dealers free of charge, for use at carnivals and fetes, acting as free advertisements for Ilford Ltd. The girl is also wearing a Selo costume, a horizontal diamond pattern, dress.


Female Selo Soldiers:
The picture left is taken from the site:
The site's accompanying text reads:

During World War II, the British government encouraged the public to buy War Bonds to pay for the cost of the War. These savings certificates were promoted by various civic events including Warship Weeks. At these events, local firms e.g. Ilford Limited, had decorated displays. In this case local female workers shown advertising Selo films. The money raised during Warship Week was in theory to pay for a newly built warship which was adopted by the Local Authority. During WW II Ilford Borough raised enough money for a Royal Navy destroyer, H.M.S URCHIN. This ship fought througout WW II and survived until 1964 when she was scrapped.

Permission to show this image has been applied for.


Brentwood Carnival in c1964

Terry Brown (in January 2020) says:

"I stumbled across this photo of my late wife (Barbara Cooper, on the right) and two of her colleagues with the Brentwood Carnival Ilford Films float."

"I think the year was 1964."

"On the left is Maureen Southwell. I don't remember the name of the girl in the centre. We all worked in Ilford's Ramsden Laboratory."

The Ramsden Laboratory was also located in Brentwood.


This page last updated: 28th February 2020