The Cloud Factory

When I was small, my mate Tony and I used to cycle down to the open ground at the edge of town and play next to The Cloud Factory. It was some huge, complex arrangement of ducts and pipes, forklifts and men in boilersuits, but the most arresting thing about it was the tall, tall chimney, made rococo with something that spiralled up the outside, that sent a plume of milk-white steam into the sky full of the clouds that were never far from that chill northern county. Being young, and with most of our imagination left, we decided that the factory made the clouds.

I’ve no idea what it actually made- paint or nylon or chipboard, fireworks or teddy bears- to us, it was the clouds, and we loved it.

When the crash came they tore it down. They built a shopping centre fully of tatty pound shops on the site, but that failed too; eventually they planted a tired looking park there, and that’s how it’s been for 30 years.

Sometimes I still go there with my children. And a part of me wonders- who makes the clouds now?

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