ASTLEY Bridge firm ACDO is celebrating a century of creating cleaning products in Bolton. SEAMUS MCDONNELL visited the company’s Mallison Road factory to see how things have changed.

WHEN 16-year-old Harry Pilling founded his company in the kitchen of his mother’s terrace house in 1919 he could not have known that the firm would last for 100 years.

While his early efforts at importing and exporting dyes and chemicals to Astley Bridge were fraught with difficulties, his fledgling operation would go on to become a huge success.

The Astley Chemical & Dye Company (ACDO) now exports products to over 80 countries but continues to operate from the same Mallison Street factory set up by Harry.

These days the cleaning company is run by its founder’s grandson, Brandon Pilling, who took the reins from his father Marshall.

The factory creates a range of well-known products, including Dr Beckmann carpet stain remover and Glowhite cleaner.

Business has changed dramatically over the last century and Brandon says he is “delighted” to be able to continue his family’s legacy.

“I think it’s a bit of a surprise for any company to last this long,” he said.

“It’s a very difficult industry to be involved with but I’m very proud to be the person who’s carried the torch from the first generation to the third.

“There’s no reason why this company can’t keep going for many more years.”

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Brandon, 57, recalls working in the Mallison Street factory in the early 1980s from the age of 16, where he would help to make cleaning products from grated soap and chemicals with his two brothers and sister.

He would later pursue a career in packaging and design before making his way back to the company.

“We used to help out all the time,” he said. “My father’s ethos was that it wasn’t a birthright, you had to find your way in life by yourself.”

Since Brandon started working at ACDO full time in 1985, the firm’s business has expanded massively.

It initially produced 10 products and turned over £3m each year but now creates hundreds of items and registered a turnover of more than £40m last year.

ACDO is well remembered for its long running advertising campaign, which featured a baby, but most people do not know that the baby shown in posters from the 1960s was actually Brandon’s brother.

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David Pilling has worked for the company since 1987 and jokes that he still has not been paid for his modelling on the adverts.

He explained that the business has changed a lot over the last 30 years.

“It’s hugely different, the whole factory has changed completely,” David said.

“When I started there were four soap powder lines and a machine in the corner.

“Now we have all this fancy new machines, it’s unrecognisable to how it used to be but times move on and you have to move with the times.”

One employee who has moved with the company is Jackie Sinnott, a machine operator who has been working from Mallison Street for 41 years and has known the last three generations of owners.

The Breightmet resident said she never expected to have stayed in the same job for so many years and that there have been some big changes during her time with ACDO.

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She added: “I didn’t think I would be here for 40 years, but I really enjoy it.

“I just like what I do, it’s a nice place to work and I’m proud of the company.”

Ms Sinnott says the biggest difference in the industry has been with the technology which the company uses and the number of products they make.

“The machines have changed a lot since I first came here, they are better than they were,” she said.

“These days we’re producing a lot more things a lot faster than we were in the 1970s.”