Ex-workers compose tribute to life on the factory floor

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The legacy of a once-booming textile factory will live on... through music.

Former workers of Courtaulds have written a song with singer-songwriter Claire Mooney about the factory that changed the face of the Preston.

Twin chimneys of Courtaulds factory, Red Scar Preston

Twin chimneys of Courtaulds factory, Red Scar Preston

The large rayon production facility was established in 1939 on the site that is now part of the Red Scar industrial estate in Ribbleton, and at its height it exported textiles across the globe, employing more than 4,000 people in Preston alone.

And Claire believes that the song will allow the memories of the textile hub that closed in 1980 to live on.

She said: “The Courtaulds factory transformed the Fishwick and St Matthew’s areas – and this influence on the area cannot be underestimated.

“Singing is such a brilliant way to bring people together and it is my hope that these stories and memories from the factory come alive again as part of this vibrant community’s future.”

Courtaulds Launch at St Matthews Mission, Preston

Courtaulds Launch at St Matthews Mission, Preston

The song was com posed during two workshops and is part of a larger project engulfing the city – “Colours of the World: Made in Preston” is a series of events in Fishwick and St Matthew’s that aims to collect memories and celebrate the heritage of the workers and communities that surrounded the site.

The scheme is a Heritage Lottery Fund project and has been managed by Dovetail, the change-making agency.

Former teacher turned film-maker Gary Cunliffe, who also runs the Yellow Factory, has been involved in the project and said the factory played a big part in Preston’s history and helped create the diverse mix of cultures in the city.

He said: “Courtaulds brought people to Preston.

“Without the factory, people who came over in the 1950s from Poland, Pakistan and the West Indies would have gone elsewhere in the UK.

“It helped create the diversity we see today and it is important to pass on these memories of the factory to the next generation – many aren’t aware of what this factory meant to Preston.”

And Dovetail has called on anyone who worked in the factory or was part of the community to come down to their next event a celebration of the community – which will include a performance of the track – on Saturday, June 21, at St Matthew’s Mission, Acregate Lane, Preston.

Frankie Mullen, co-founder of the promoters, Dovetail, said: “We have been working in Preston for over five years and we are delighted to be leading this project about an institution which has touched so many people here.

“No matter who you speak to, everyone has a connection with Courtaulds.

“Whether through family, neighbours or personal experience it really is astonishing to see how an institution like the Courtaulds factory can leave such a huge legacy.

“Through the project we have met some remarkable individuals with such a huge variety of stories – some sad, some hilarious – and what has come through it all is the resilience and spirit of those that worked there.

“Truly inspiring.”