A reminder of Wanstead, 12,000 miles away

img_0205-2JamesLongy1, from Wanstead but now in New Zealand, found a wonderful reminder of home: the coin-operation mechanism on the machine in the laundrette was made in Wanstead. As part of our series celebrating things which help make Wanstead, we’re delighted to include Essex Engineering and Coin-Op Controls Ltd, Manufacturers of Coin-operated Control Mechanisms.

Very long-standing readers of this blog might remember that Wansteadium has a mild fascination with the Essex Engineering factory on Nelson Road. We were delighted in 2010 when a miniature sewing machine it had manufactured (and become almost celebrated for) was nominated for inclusion in Radio 4’s A History of the World in 100 Objects.

What makes the company so interesting – apart from its inscrutability and lack of PR – is its simplicity. Take this line from their website:

The company is small, employing around 35, a number which has remained constant for 50 years. It is 100% family owned and run, as near as is possible, as a family. The average length of employment is around 14 years and has stayed at this level since the late 1950’s.

That would be charming enough. But their focus on simple, precision engineering also allows them to say things like this:

Essex Engineering has manufactured coin slide mechanisms for over 50 years. The coin slide has proved itself highly reliable and easily repairable, resulting in over 1 million finding their way onto coin slide operated machines throughout the world. Coin slides will work in the Namibian desert just as well as in a rain forest or an Eskimo’s igloo. Coin slides are also, of course, totally free from any wiring problems allowing the device to operate anywhere – and use only the energy supplied (quite freely) by the customer!

No glamour, nothing flash, just getting on with things, from 7am every weekday.