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Jobs lost as East Lancashire wrought iron firm collapses
A WROUGHT ironwork firm in East Lancashire which manufactured luxury gates for celebrities, Disneyworld, Hollywood and Liverpool FC, has gone into administration with the loss of 37 jobs.
Brian Rourke & Co, based in Accrington Road, Burnley, which was founded more than 50 years ago, has become the latest victim of the tough economic climate.
It went into administration on Monday and 19 staff were immediately made redundant.
A further 18 are expected to go in the next fortnight as administrators BDO LLP bring the company to a close.
They said that attempts to find a buyer for the Accrington Road-based business had proved fruitless.
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said he was ‘really sad’ to learn of the company’s demise.
He said: “Brian built the firm up working out of a shed and turned it into a very successful company, a major employer producing high-quality manufacturing.
“It comes as a real shock to me. I suppose people haven’t got the money to spend on luxury items in this climate.”
B. Rourke & Co was founded in 1961 in a hen hut in Brian’s sister’s farm in Deerplay Moor near Bacup. It moved to a forge in Blakey Street before settling in its current location in 1996.
Patrick Lannagan, business restructuring partner at BDO, said: “Unfortunately the current economic climate and difficult trading conditions significantly affected the business.
“The joint administrators are taking all necessary steps to mitigate losses to all stake-holders and, going forward, will seek to maximise recoveries for the benefit of all creditors.”
Although contact was made with a significant number of potential buyers, none of them had any interest in the business as a going concern.
Michael Damms, chief executive of East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said that news of Rourke’s collapse was a ‘great disappointment’.
He added: “It was a great family company and one that was particularly good at training and upskilling its workers. It provided a fantastic combination of manufacturing and artistry but people don’t have the sort of discretionary income they used to.”
The company recently produced and fitted new gates at the entrance to the Haworth Art Gallery, Accrington, and a 1.5 ton sliding gate — its longest ever at 12 metres — at Blackburn-based e-cigarette firm Totally Wicked.
- With just Brian and his wife Betty as staff, Rourke’s made £534 in its first year of trade after opening in 1961.
- In the 1970s, a recommendation from a local bank manager resulted in the company’s first ever export order to New South Wales, Australia, worth £15,000.
- Throughout the 1980s, additional premises were purchased, including a first ever ‘showroom’ in Church Street, Burnley. Its very first trade catalogue was launched worldwide.
- By the 1990s regular monthly containers were sent to New Jersey, USA, the company launched its own paint range, Vinylast, and completed projects for
- By 2001 the company had an annual turnover of £4.5million, employed 100 people and supplied celebrities including boxer Mike Tyson, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.
- Rourke's gates have also featured in the Hollywood blockbuster Beautiful Minds starring starred Russell Crowe. and at Liverpool Football Club’s Anfield stadium, in honour of former manager Bob Paisley.