Stevenage employees celebrate building’s 50 years

Phil Reynolds, Chief Operating officier of FIRA International, Michael Powell, Chairman of FIRA coun

Phil Reynolds, Chief Operating officier of FIRA International, Michael Powell, Chairman of FIRA council and Sir John Perring, son of Sir Ralph Perring, holding artifacts and the time capsule - Credit: Archant

STAFF at a furniture association’s headquarters followed in the footsteps of their predecessors on Monday as they celebrated a building’s 50th anniversary.

Lord Mayor of London, Sir Ralph Perring, adding to the original time capsule in 1963

Lord Mayor of London, Sir Ralph Perring, adding to the original time capsule in 1963 - Credit: Archant

The Lord Mayor of London Sir Ralph Perring opened the Furniture Industry Research Association’s (FIRA) base in Stevenage on April 8, 1963, and half a century on his son has now played a part in another moment of history.

An aerial view of FIRA's headquarters in 1968

An aerial view of FIRA's headquarters in 1968 - Credit: Archant

Exactly 50 years after Sir Perring buried a time capsule to mark the opening, his son Sir John Perry visited the building in Maxwell Road and joined with employees to create a further legacy.

The 82-year-old attended the original opening himself but was asked to follow in his father’s footsteps this time around by contributing to a time capsule.

A number of items in the original time capsule relating to FIRA were damaged by water but have now been replaced at the site, which is also home to furniture technology centre FIRA International Ltd and independent body The Furniture Ombudsman.

As well as offices, the building houses a furniture testing facility and a call centre for FIRA service technicians, who deal with aftercare and repair services in the furniture industry.

“I am really thrilled that Sir John Perring, along with Michael Powell, the current association chairman, have been able to visit us and help us celebrate the 50th anniversary of the FIRA headquarters,” said Phil Reynolds, chief operating officer for FIRA International Ltd.

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“Stevenage has changed a lot in the last 50 years, however FIRA has remained a constant, providing unparalleled support to the furniture industry and employment to the surrounding area.”

Sir John Perring added: “It is a great pleasure to visit FIRA again after so many years and help bury a time capsule marking the anniversary of their purpose built headquarters in Stevenage.

“My family specialised in wire bedspring manufacturing and selling, and were all involved in the furnishing business. Today, I am the senior past master for the Furniture Makers’ Company. It is fantastic that FIRA, which has had such a positive impact on the furniture industry, is still going from strength to strength.”

*Do you remember the opening 50 years ago? If so, share your memories by emailing nick.gill@thecomet.net

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