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LuDun Limited

A toy truck made by LuDun Limited [X772/5/4/11]
A toy truck made by LuDun Limited [X772/5/4/11]

LuDun Limited, known as The Bedfordshire Workshop for the severely Disabled, was set up in 1950. It had its factory in Liscombe Road, Dunstable. Today LuDun Limited is best remembered for producing wooden toys

The company's memorandum of association [X772/1/1] includes twenty objectives. Some of these included:

  • To employ, train and accommodate "persons who by reason of physical or mental disability are temporarily or permanently incapable of or handicapped in obtaining normal employment";
  • To manufacture surgical and medical appliances, equipment and instruments;
  • To manufacture "all kinds of articles and things required for the purposes of any such business".

The chairman was L. W. Plewes and the company secretary was T. L. Lightfoot, who wrote a short history of the first ten years of the company [X772/6/1] in 1960.

The history relates that the first meeting of those wishing to create the company was in January 1950. The organiser was John Rogers, rehabilitation Officer at the Luton and DunstableHospital who brought together: L. W. Plewes, an orthopaedic surgeon; J. Brian Shaw, a chest physician; Barbara Bowman, the hospital's almoner; A. E. Sharman, chairman of the hospital's management committee; R. B. Plummer, a local industrialist; H. C. Latham from the Ministry of Labour; K. Jones, a solicitor and T. L. Lightfoot.

Before the creation of LuDun John Rogers carried out experimental training in the Rehabilitation Workshop at the hospital. The first trial run of the scheme took place in the old mortuary at Saint Mary's Hospital in Luton – taken over without permission! This trial run indicated that the scheme could be made a success and one of the directors offered a small empty hat factory in Cardiff Road, Luton. An appeal for £2,500 to buy equipment to employ six men; in the event £4,500 was raised allowing nine people to be employed.

The business soon expanded onto a neighbouring piece of waste ground belonging to the Post Office and a wooden hut was raised on the land. Two years later the Post Office demanded the land back and so the company moved to Liscombe Road in Dunstable with the intention of raising £19,000 to build a factory and equip it to employ between thirty five and forty people. £5,000 was raised by donations from the Luton and Dunstable Chamber of Commerce and the Amalgamated Engineering Union, followed by a grant of £6,000 from Bedfordshire County Council and a further £6,000 from the Ministry of Labour. The remaining £2,000 came from donations.

The factory was designed in 1954 [Z914/2/3/1-6], built in 1955 and in 1956 Prince Philip made an official visit [X772/5/5]. By 1960 sales of goods were approaching £10,000 per annum. The premises were extended in 1961 [Z914/2/5/1-4]. The company continued for another fifty years, though Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has no archive covering that period. Sadly the factory closed in June 2011 due to a cut in funding by Bedfordshire County Councils successor body Central Bedfordshire Council.

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has the following records relating to LuDun:

  • X772/1/1: company memorandum and articles of agreement: 1950;
  • X772/2/1: minute book: 1950-1957;
  • X772/2/3: Annual General Meeting minute book: 1950-1958;
  • X772/4/1: chairman's report and statement of accounts: 1951
  • X772/2/2: minutes of the Appeals Committee: 1951-1952;
  • X772/3/1: account book: 1951-1960;
  • Z914/2/1: an account of the first two years of the company: 1952;
  • X772/1/2: amended company memorandum and articles of agreement: 1952;
  • Z914/2/2/1-23: records regarding the design and erection of the workshop: 1953-1958;
  • X772/5/1: bills of quantities for the erection of the new workshops: 1954;
  • Z914/2/3/1-6: plans for the new factory: 1954-1955;
  • X772/5/2: visitors book: 1956-1966;
  • X772/5/3/1-10: photographs of the visit of Prince Philip: 1956;
  • X772/5/5: souvenir programme for the visit of Prince Philip: 1956;
  • X772/5/4/1-11: photographs of products: c. 1960;
  • X772/6/1: LuDun Limited – The First Ten Years: 1960;
  • Z914/2/4/1-3: papers regarding an extension to the factory: 1961;
  • Z914/2/5/1-4: plans for the extension to the factory: 1961

The visit of Prince Philip in 1956 [X772/5/3/7]
The visit of Prince Philip in 1956 [X772/5/3/7]