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When Jim Lewis met the directors of the RSA Trust, the charity responsible for the concept and the running of Enfield Island Village, in January 2015, it was to discuss the commissioning of a book that would tell the story of the former government controlled Royal Small Arms Factory (RSAF) after privatisation and closure in 1987. However, during discussions it soon became clear, with the impending two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Enfield Lock armoury, that a unique opportunity existed to link the story of the RSAF site with the founding of the RSA Trust. And as one Trust director put it, this is the classic story of “from swords into ploughshares”. Surprising as it may seem, the story of the birth of the Enfield Lock armoury in 1816 and the methods of manufacture that then existed within the British small arms industry has never been completely told.
At the time of writing this book the author wanted, in the two-hundredth anniversary year of the founding of the RSAF, to commemorate the contribution made to our armed forces by the former workforce which, by their skills and dedication, helped keep Britain safe during times of world instability. Also I wanted to acknowledge the contribution made to our community by the four founding fathers of the RSA Trust that has benefited so many worthwhile good causes.
In a world full of increasingly depressing news it is uplifting to have the opportunity to write about a group of four local businessmen who had the vision, courage and tenacity to take on the mammoth task of rescuing a Grade II listed building that no sane entrepreneur would have contemplated taking on and turn it into a vibrant sustainable business for the benefit of the local community. The model created pays a service charge into a limited liability company, RSA IV, which in turn transfers the surplus to the not-for-profit RSA Trust which is then able to fund many community good causes.