A PETITION has been set up calling for one of Colchester’s most historic factories to be saved from closure.

Colchester Labour Group is calling for the town’s MP Will Quince to lobby for the Paxman facility, off Hythe Hill, to be saved.

Engine manufacturer MAN Energy Solutions announced in July it was to consult on plans to shut the factory before the end 2020, meaning the loss of up to 80 jobs and the end of the firm’s 155 year history in the town.

The petition states: “Speak to anyone involved in this industry and you will find confidence and pride in the design, development and manufacture of diesel engines at Paxman.

“Hundreds of people have been involved with the Paxman community during the 155 years - through apprenticeships, stores, production, clerical, design and research and development.

"This Paxman’s bond is incredibly strong and memories down the generations are still shared.”

The petition says there is still a market for the famous VP185 engine, made at the Hythe site, which is used by the naval and rail industry worldwide.

Labour group leader Tina Bourne said: “I am particularly struck by the bond residents have with Paxmans and the strength of feeling around not just the factory site but the historical background of manufacturing and engineering in Colchester.

"As Labour councillors we feel strongly the VP185 engine should continue to be built in Colchester, the current and future MoD work fits in with our military links and we have already lost so much of our industrial heritage.”

Unite’s regional officer Neal Evans added: “The fact the firm can even propose the closure of this strategically important site with the loss of dozens of highly skilled jobs is a tragic indictment on the complete absence of a UK government manufacturing policy.”

Jan Zebitz, managing director of the firm in the UK, said it appreciated the emotion attached to the Paxman brand.

He said: "This unfortunately cannot change the fact that the market situation for the engine type we build in Colchester was already difficult even before Covid-19 and has worsened since.

"We simply lack the order volume necessary to carry on, and therefore we must review production at Colchester.”

Labour has enlisted the help of Shadow Defence Secretary John Healy in its campaign and is working with Unite representatives.

Sign the petition at bit.ly/3hSnow7.