CRISIS talks were held this week following the shock announcement that Crook's biggest employer is closing.

Stunned workers were left in floods of tears after J Barbour and Sons Ltd broke the news that it was ceasing production at its Crook site.

The news last Friday came as a bolt out of the blue for the 87 strong workforce who are now facing the dole queue.

Emergency talks were held on Tuesday between the transport and General Workers' Union and the company to see if the factory could be saved.

Regional Industrial organiser Joe Keith said the announcement came as a devastating shock and that the union would do everything to help save jobs.

He said most of the workforce at Crook would be unable to take up the company's offer of transferring to its head office in South Shields, which is to be the sole outlet for production.

He said: "They cannot possibly afford to pay for the 45 mile round trip on weekly wages of around £150.''

So far Mr Keith said he has got backing from local politicians including MP Hilary Armstrong and Wear Valley District Council leader Olive Brown. He said he was hoping that talks would result in a rescue package to keep Crook open.