THE RP STORY – MOULDING HISTORY

Rutland Plastics was established in January 1956 by Ron Smart and Don Ansell.  The company started with two moulding machines on a site just 100 yards from its existing factory.

Like many new ventures, there were sacrifices that had to be made to get things started.  The two owners sold their cars to raise the money to pay for those first machines.  Even moving into their new factory was not straightforward. The original building was an old corn mill and the millstone had to be removed to make room for the moulding machines.

IN THE BEGINNING

In the beginning, the company moulded plastic flowers progressing to accessories for budgerigars as their popularity boomed during 1950’s, moulding all manner of toys for a budgie from mirrors, ladders, little men that rocked backwards and forwards when pecked to feeders, etc.  Later, this developed into own branded toys for children to include the ‘Katie’ range for girls.

Rutland Plastics is now far removed from the toy market and is involved in a wide range of technical moulding work.  Key moments in the company’s history will be featured in a future article but for now, let’s take a trip down memory lane.

DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN?

Are you old enough to remember the old plastic toys?  Even before they came from Hong Kong.  Perhaps you had a budgie as a pet?  If you did, maybe you had some items manufactured by Rutland Plastics in its cage?

You may remember playing with a plastic boat in the bath?  It was fun while it lasted but it wasn’t long before it would get dropped on the bathroom floor – styrenes were brittle and there was no such thing as bathroom carpet.  After such an accident it would never float again!  The boat in the picture still has the label on it from when it was displayed at a toy exhibition – 36 shillings per dozen (£1.80 – or 15p each!).

Without wishing to be sexist, there were also the toys aimed at little girls so that they could copy mummy when she did the housework.  The toaster came complete with plug and switchable socket and the toaster itself had a variable timer.

TIME TO MOVE ON

It was cheap imports in part that led to Rutland Plastics progressing from plastic flowers to toys.  It was a similar story that saw the company move away from toys to more trade moulding.

The company moved to its existing site in the early 1960s, a former crop drying barn.  By this time there were five moulding machines.  Growth here was fuelled by the addition of more trade moulding work – push buttons and nameplates for Ford, kitchen fittings, and so on.  The toy business was sold off as it was increasingly difficult to compete and Rutland Plastics became the ‘Injection Moulder to Industry’ that it is today.