On the same journey to Athol, Massachusetts in the United States where I learnt about the "state of the union", I also toured and photographed the vast workshop of Cambium Corporation, wood casket manufacturers.
When I first saw the building, I thought it abandoned like so many other 19th Century brick buildings in that part of America. A friendly fellow saw me taking pictures and told me it still functioned as a factory, though the product changed from shoes to caskets and some custom wood pieces. I rang the owner, arranged to meet and had a very cordial time, indeed. The owner drew on his background as an engineer to custom refit the woodworking machines and create a splendidly logical workflow which sprawled along several stories in the building. His tour led me past the raw planks of wood, along the conveyor belts where the planks were cut, joined, lacquered and polished, the machines that created the ornamentation and decorative patterns, the sewing stations where they stitched the interiors. I marvelled at this remarkable display of precision manufacturing. One doesn't think small firms like this manufactured anything these days and certainly not something with such warmth and detail in the final product.