Fond memories of the rag trade

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THE days of living round the corner from where you worked might seem long gone for most of us, but there was a time when it was the norm.

Margaret Farnsworth lived just a stone’s throw from the old Seal and Turner knitwear factory in Dinnington and used to go home in her dinner hour to peg washing out and get a bit of housework done.

The factory, on Outgang Lane, which was later taken over by Jaeger and then Viyella, has just been demolished, taking with it fond memories of a different way of life.

“Some of the others who lived too far away to walk home at dinner time used to come back with me as well,” she recalled.

“One time I was at home feeling unwell with terrible stomach ache and some of the girls came round to check on me and it turned out to be appendicitis.”

It was a place where firm friendships were made and where laughter helped the working day along,

Barbara Snow, who became friends with Margaret when they worked together at the factory, likened it to the sitcom The Rag Trade, which ran during the 1960s and 70s.

She started at the factory in 1964 when she was 17.

“They sent us to Mansfield to be trained and then first of all we worked where the Dinnington vets is on St Leonard’s Close, there were only about ten or 12 of us then,” she said.

“We made stockings then and I was on inspection. It was about 16 months later that we moved to the bigger factory and that was when we started making knitwear.”

Barbara, 64, of High Nook, Dinnington, worked in packing and inspection, while Margaret did hand finishing.

They produced knitwear for Marks and Spencer and Margaret, 70, of Danby Road, Kiveton, remembers working on twin sets which were fashionable at the time.

“They used to have satin banding down the inside and I used to handstitch where the neck line came together,” she said.

“There were other people working on pressing and folding, there were about 60 of us altogether, and the overseers were called Lance Lidgett and Winnie Hayes.”

“It was mostly women working there but there was another man called Harry who was a loader. There was an office and we had a little cafe as well. I worked there three different times over the years. I used to enjoy it and we had a laugh, we used to collect for anyone leaving to have a baby or getting married, it was a good atmosphere.”

“All of us who worked at the factory lived in Dinnington and Anston and so we all knew each other, it’s sad to think it’s gone now.”

Margaret - who came second in Dinnington’s Coal Queen beauty contest in 1965 - organised a works trip to Blackpool in September 1966 and has photos of the occasion, although she can’t remember the names of everyone in the group.

The factory women collected £100 to send to the families of the Aberfan mining disaster victim. “We really felt for them, being from a mining village ourselves,” said Margaret.

Both she and Barbara can remember going on strike a couple of times well over pay.

“We didn’t strike for very long though,” said Barbara.

“We were a bit like the women in that film about the Dagenham car factory,” laughed Margaret, who has three sons and eight grandchildren.

Do you have any memories or old photos of Dinnington’s knitwear factory? Get in touch and let us know your stories by calling 01909 500500 or emailing newsroom@dinningtonguardian.co.uk.