SMEM sewing machine repairs
Contributed by toni on Jan. 16, 2019
Tony Passa (formally Pasavitch, born 25 April 1927 in Bethnal Green), was a sewing-machine mechanic who worked at SMEM from when he was demobbed after the Second World War until it closed in 1991.
Tony (or Mr Reece as he was known because he was the only one who could/would fix the cantankerous Reece sewing machine) travelled all over London mending sewing machines for the whole of his working life. There were a number of other engineers, Monty and Alf among others, who worked in the workshop. The car park SMEM used was next to what is now 17 Osborn Street.
Tony was a regular fixer of machines at the National Theatre (where he regularly got lost) at London Fashion week when quick fixes were needed, and for up and coming designers like Vivenne Westwood and later Rıfat Özbek. But most of his working life was spent in your bog standard clothing factory, coaxing ageing machines back into life.
I remember as a child in the 1960s visiting Tony at work at another SMEM workshop location close to the car park but there is no one else who remembers this.