Wednesday, March 15, 2006


'Lone Star' (Hatfield) - A blast from the past!

We have discovered two versions of the same incident which occurred at Lone Star's Hatfield plant, at 168 Gt. North Road, at an unknown date in the mid-1980s when the factory was operating under the auspices of the German company, Wicke & Co. GmbH, [pronounced Vicker] and trading as "Lone Star Toys plc."
Version (1.) was submitted by Patrick Simmonds, a now retired former Manager. This is what he had to say:-
"On one occasion a fork-lift truck driver was attempting to unload a consignment of caps (for cap-firing toy guns) from a van when the lifting-forks accidentally penetrated the boxes causing a terrific explosion which blew out several of the factory windows. Although some of the employees were in a state of shock, as far as is known there were no fatalities."
Version (2.) was submitted by Mrs. Rosemary Basden, former secretary of John E. Rayner, Director and Company Secretary of "Lone Star Toys plc." This is what she had to say:-
"After Wicke took over, one day there was a bang in the delivery yard. A carton of caps had fallen off a fork-lift truck [as she put it] while being unloaded and had exploded. One or two people were slightly injured and "Health & Safety" were [on the scene] like a flash. Pat Simmonds says Wicke did not believe a carton of caps could explode if dropped, so tried it themselves, in Germany, dropping a carton from the roof [of their main plant at Wuppertal]. It did explode and windows were broken!!"

No time for clinical niceties!!

Another interesting and unusual incident from Patrick Simmonds. It was this employee who attached a wreath to the "Lone Star" sign board above the office block main entrance in May 1988, to mark the impending closure of the Hatfield factory the following month. In hand-written capital letters on the sign board, above the wreath, were written the words: "Farewell, will miss you". A contemporary photo of this poignant scene can be viewed on: (Top row - right)

This is what he reported:-
"A young employee - an ex-student - was, evidently, unaware that she was pregnant! On the day in question she was in the factory lavatories and whilst in there she went into labour. The factory staff 'first-aiders' were alerted to the crisis. They were quickly on the scene to assist the young woman and had actually delivered the baby in the first-aid room by the time the doctor and ambulance arrived."

Lone Star Accident!!
"Diecast Collector" magazine, Issue 76, February 2004, p.18.
The following was submitted to the Editor by Dave Porte, of Essex, U.K.
"Reading the recent articles regarding Lone Star toys brought back memories of the 1970s and a serious road accident I had right outside the Lone Star factory at Hatfield. The van in which I was a passenger went past the factory on its roof before coming to a halt. The workers from the factory and offices came running out to help and took us through the factory where crates of model cars and trucks stood. We were patched up by the factory nurse before being taken by ambulance to hospital at Welwyn Garden City.
For many years after, every time I went past that spot it sent a shiver down my spine, until one day the factory had been demolished and the land laid derelict for many [11] years. Then a few years ago, by coincidence, as an HGV driver, I was given a job to deliver the building materials to the old site where they were building a large car dealership, showroom and workshops. Thanks for such interesting articles which brought back these memories."

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