Carrickfergus Museum will be hosting an event which will see the launch of a booklet on the Courtaulds factory and the showing of a short film.
It’s all thanks to a project undertaken by National Museums NI who have been working with volunteers and participants in a community engagement initiative as part of the Courtaulds National Partnerships programme.
Since January 2021, volunteers from National Museums NI have been gathering stories and experiences of Courtaulds Ltd to understand its local impact and legacy. Courtaulds was the first of the man-made fibre industries to arrive in Northern Ireland, opening a factory for the production of Rayon in Carrickfergus in 1951. By 1965 over 1,300 people were employed. Its closure in 1981 was a devastating blow to the town.
As part of the project a number of former employees were interviewed. Their stories give a flavour of what the company was like to work for, and how it shaped both their working and social lives. Hundreds of people from Carrickfergus and the surrounding area worked in the Courtaulds factory. Many saw Courtaulds as bringing good things to the town, creating jobs and bringing new opportunities to the area. The impact of the closure is hard to overestimate.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council William McCaughey said, “The Courtaulds factory is still prominent in the local landscape and within the memories of local people. It is for this reason we are delighted to be able to host this event to celebrate the project undertaken by National Museums Northern Ireland staff, volunteers and participants.”
Victoria Millar, Senior Curator of History, National Museums NI, says: “It is a bittersweet day not only celebrating Courtaulds Ltd. impact here in Northern Ireland, but also marking the end of this part of the Courtauld National Partnerships Programme project which has been an important collaboration for National Museums NI.
“Since January 2021, we have explored the local legacy of Courtaulds Ltd. by collecting the memories of those who worked at the factory in Carrickfergus. We’re delighted that the volunteers’ outputs will be on display here for locals and visitors to Carrickfergus to enjoy and learn about Courtaulds Ltd. We are very grateful to both our network of volunteers and to the public for these and helping us to bring to life a part of history for others to discover.”
These memories are captured in the project film being screened in Carrickfergus Town Hall on 11 December. A limited number of places are available for members of the public to attend. To book your free place, contact Carrickfergus Museum on T: 028 93358241 or E: [email protected].
The film will thereafter be shown in the Museum’s Community Archive, where the free booklet will also be available and visitors can view items from National Museums Northern Ireland’s Courtaulds textile collection.