Tuesday, 15 October 2013

History 51 - Women in Industry in Cornwall & Isle of Scilly

On the 25th October there is a rather special event taking place in St Ives, Cornwall that I'm very excited to be part of. Called 'Women in Industry' it's being held at the Western Hotel from 11.00 - 15.00 and is all about celebrating the wonderful women of St Ives and their contribution to the textile industry during the mid 20th century. 

The reason this is special to me is because it's about Flawns, where my mum worked in the 50s before marrying my dad and having a family. It's also about Crysede Silk - which was a World-renowned silk house in the 1930s. 

Until I started this project and took an interest in where my mum had worked - and started asking questions..I had no idea!! So its been a really interesting journey for me personally.

As a result of initially contacting the St Ives Archives last year, speaking to the wonderful Maggie about Flawns and asking lots of questions....this sparked their interest in the history of the textile industry in St.Ives. From that first contact, and under Maggie's vision and care, it has grown into a wonderful thing which so far has brought together over 45 people who worked at the different factories to share their stories. 

You can read my first post about Flawns here.

I'm also VERY excited to be meeting some of the women who worked with my mum. I never got to know her as 'her own person', if you see what I mean, as she passed away when I was 15 with Cancer. I'll make sure I'll have plenty of tissues as I know it will be a wonderful yet emotional day. 

Here's some more info from the Hypatia Trust website about the event:

"St Ives is well known for its fishing, mining, artists and tourists, but for about forty years it was the home of a vibrant textile industry based in former pilchard cellars near to The Island.

The industrial manufacture of textiles is not usually associated with a seaside town in Cornwall. The majority of the employees were women who went into the factories when they left school at the age of fourteen. Maybe for this reason the work that they did has almost been forgotten. The Town Council, by the 1970s, had removed all traces of industry from the centre of St Ives and transferred it to new industrial estates.
And the buildings themselves were demolished to make way for luxury accommodation to expand the tourist industry.
St Ives Archive is part of the wider History 51 project in Cornwall initiated by the Hypatia Trust with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to celebrate the role of women in a number of key aspects of Cornish life."
Women working at Flawns during the 1940s. Image credit: St.Ives Archive

Let’s make one giant net for St Ives!

One of the key events will be an opportunity for everyone to assist in the making of a ‘camouflage net’ of memories. These nets were originally made at home, during the war, by young women and children, based on the nets that were made by their fishermen relatives. Camouflage nets had strips of material inserted into them (scrimmed) so that they could be draped over objects that needed to be hidden from the air.
On this occasion, strips of calico with individual memories and images will be sewn into the net, and these will be a lasting reminder of this chapter of St Ives history. As the original nets were used to hide objects, the new net will remind us that women’s working lives are also often hidden."
Women making camouflage nets at Hamptons factory on The Island,
St Ives, during World War 2 
(credit: St Ives Archive)
So, If you happen to be in St Ives then - do pop-in and say hello! ;-) 

Date: Friday 25 October (11-3pm).
Venue: The Western Hotel, St Ives
Places: FREE. Drop-in basis.
This also marks the nearing of the end of my year long project of not buying any new clothes - although I do already have an idea how I will continue - with a twist!

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