Huge NI-wide call-out to former employees of Courtaulds Ltd

National Museums NI has released a Northern Ireland-wide call-out to former employees of Courtaulds Ltd. factories once based in Carrickfergus, Markethill, Irvinestown, Limavady, Cookstown and Plumbridge, to get in touch.

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 7:00 am
Victoria Millar and volunteers

It plans to collect memories and memorabilia as well as first-hand accounts from past employees of the textiles manufacturer that produced popular fashion fabrics, as well as underwear items for Marks and Spencer.

The major Courtaulds Ltd. factory was based in Carrickfergus and opened 1951. It was designed to specifically manufacture fibre suitable for the Irish linen industry, bringing a wealth of new jobs to the area. The company also owned a number of Daintyfyt factories in Markethill, Irvinestown, Limavady, Cookstown and Plumbridge, which primarily used fabrics made by Courtualds. By the late 1980s, when clothing manufacturing was quickly moving to South East Asia and China, Courtaulds had closed many of its factories to move production to new Asian sites, including its factory in Carrickfergus, which closed in 1981. In the late 1980s, Daintifyt and its remaining factories were renamed Courtaulds Lingerie before being taken over by US consumer products giant, Sara Lee, in the early 2000s. At its height it employed two thousand people.

The activity is part of the Courtauld National Partnerships Programme, which aims to understand the legacy of Courtaulds Ltd. and share the ideals of Samuel Courtauld, company chairman and founder of The Courtauld Institute of Art, by working with volunteers across the United Kingdom, especially in areas where the factories had a significant presence, such as Northern Ireland.

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Courtauld Factory

National Museums NI is working with a network of volunteers to encourage the public to come forward and share their accounts.

The plan is to collect and record the available information and create a celebration of Courtaulds Ltd. and the impact it had here in Northern Ireland. Former employees can share their experiences and stories by emailing [email protected] to get involved.

Leading the project and its volunteers is Victoria Millar, Senior Curator of History at National Museums NI.

Highlighting the need to collect and share the memories and memorabilia from past employees, Victoria said: “We’re calling on the public to share their memories of Courtaulds Ltd. in Northern Ireland so we can create a resource for the public to enjoy.

“We want to share people’s first-hand accounts to demonstrate how significant Courtaulds Ltd. was here.

”Most people will know someone who once worked at Courtaulds Ltd. factories here, making this an exciting project for our volunteers to be part of.

“We encourage everyone to take part in our museums – and this project will give everyone involved the opportunity to shape how we bring the Courtaulds Ltd. story to life.”

As part of the Courtauld National Partnership Programme, Ulster Museum benefits from its loan programme, most-recently welcoming Renoir and the New Era: Impressionist Works from The Courtauld.

In-situ at Ulster Museum and available to see until mid-May, dependent on Government restrictions, Renoir and the New Era looks specifically at the 1874 ‘First Impressionist Exhibition’ that featured La Loge and how the painting itself, and the Impressionist movement, represented the emergence of democracy within culture and a new era of thought through art in politics and representation.

To support National Museums NI on its latest project by submitting an experience or item connected to Courtaulds, email [email protected]

For more information on Renoir and the New Era: Impressionist works from The Courtauld and National Museums NI’s volunteering programme, visit nmni.com. For more information about Courtaulds Ltd. and The Courtauld visit courtauld.ac.uk