I’d expected more automation – robots with a few supervisors – but the places I visited around Plymouth still required a lot of labour, much of it skilled and a surprising amount of it from eastern Europe. I jumped around the food chain, from Tideford Organics – where they have been making soups and pesto sauces and dreaming up new recipes since 1966 and still taste everything themselves (I took part in a soup tasting, which was delicious) – to Westaways, a family business whose owner, Charles Baughan, calls himself as “a sausage evangelist”. His plans for the future include selling sausages from a handcart outside the Houses of Parliament, converting the Chinese – he accompanied David Cameron on his trade mission to China last year – and continuing his search for the secret of keeping cooked sausages straight.
At Princess Yachts, they make the kind of boats that Bond villains – and no doubt some fine, upstanding people, too – like to be seen in. The company has acres of buildings to make the boats in and acres more in which to stack, cut, polish, paint wood and plastic panels and store screws, hooks, handles, pipes, switches, windows, wires and bulbs. While the fundamental structure of its 72ft yachts remains fixed, they are usually extensively customised inside to provide the space and finish the owner requires. Luxury is selling well these days.
Other photographers include Martin Parr, Stuart Franklin, Jonas Bendiksen, Mark Power, Peter Marlow, David Hurn, Alessandra Sanguinetti. Peter Marsh, the FT’s former manufacturing editor, introduces the issue