Track 9 : The sound of spectacle making. Various machines making each part of the spectacle frames. Bow. 1:21
The history of Algha Works dates back to 1932 when Max Wiseman bought the contents of a spectacle factory in Rathenau, Germany. During WWII they made gas mask frames and aviator goggles. During the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s Algha Works made large one and a half million spectacle frames a year for the NHS and other clients. In the late 1980’s Margaret Thatcher deregulated the supply of free prescription frames from the NHS. Algha Works later made the decision to focus on a ‘niche product of quality and classic style’ called ‘Saville Row’. Famous wearers of the company’s glasses included Harry Potter in each film, Eric Clapton and John Lennon.
I visited the factory and recorded about ten different machines used for making the tiny parts of spectacle frames. There was a huge variety of machines in the building indicating how busy it must have been during the days of NHS supply. As I was shown around I was politely asked not to photograph too closely as some of the machines would be very valuable to manufacturers in over seas countries such as China.
I had the chance to talk to Peter Viner, Managing Director at Algha Works, the sound in the background of the machines being used makes it a little difficult to hear but here it is…