Bittersweet memories marked the end of an era as the Trebor Bassett factory finally closed.

On Friday the axe finally fell on 200 jobs as the residual work force collected their last pay cheque and let the doors swing shut behind them.

Many at the factory on the Severalls Lane Industrial Estate, Colchester, have found new jobs but others waking up this morning to face uncertain futures.

It cost £4 million 20 years ago and is now on the market for just £3 million.

No definite buyer has yet come forward.

Trebor Bassett came to Colchester in 1980, making family favourites like Refreshers and Extra Strong Mints for sweet lovers across the nation.

The 94,000 sq ft factory site has been closed as part of a comprehensive company-wide reorganisation.

John Taylor, managing director, said it was a very sad day: "We are particularly grateful for the very positive way in which all those staff affected have responded.

"As a result we have been able to continue manufacture throughout the closure period.

"They take with them our sincere thanks and very best wishes for the future."

Some of the workforce have been there from day one and all were in sombre mood as they said goodbye.

Kay Collins, 37, of Fairhead Road, said: "It is really hard to accept, there has been a lot of emotion and tears and it is just not feasible that we aren't coming back."

Dawn Ellis, 54, of Honeysuckle Way, said: "It is very sad. I have worked here for 19 years and it feels like part of my home. People were angry at the beginning, I was, but now we are just sad."

Tom Sneddon, 47, from Dilbridge Road, has put in 15 years.

"Some people have worked here for 20 years and are on a good wage, he said.

"They now have to start at the bottom of the ladder somewhere else."

Pauline Massey, 49, of Ayloff Road, has worked there for 17 years and said: "We have known this was coming for 14 months and I feel like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders."

Harry Clark, 40, of Stanley Wooster Way, does not finish until March 31 and as part of the "lights-out crew" will get rid of the machinery and empty the warehouse.

"It is the people I shall miss more than the factory."

Mr Clark praised Trebor Bassett for helping its workforce find new employment.

"Initially, a few people felt a bit bitter, but the company has been very helpful and the majority of people are going out with jobs," he said.

London-based recruitment firm, Coutts Careers Consultants was brought in to help staff find new jobs and it contacted 912 businesses in a bid to find vacancies.

Public relations manager for Trebor Bassett, Gill Wells, said: "In the first phase of 66 redundancies, 91 per cent of those people found new employment.

"We are very reluctant to release figures for the 128 people who finished today, simply because a large proportion are not actively seeking further employment."

She added: "We are continuing our outreach service for at least another four weeks and when that has been completed we will be able to see the success rate we have had."

Converted for the new archive on 19 November 2001. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.