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Nostalgia: Irish workers help in the cotton mills

Glossop cotton mills urgently needed 500 extra workers and with not enough local labour available, the factory owners looked towards Ireland.

It was early 1946, business was booming, order books were full and needed filling and suddenly the flow of operatives had begun.

The first to cross the Irish Sea were four women from Dublin and Limerick, brought over by bosses of Sumner’s Mill, then one of the biggest spinning factories in Britain.

Sumner’s were so short of operatives they bought Redcourt, the large house on Hollincross Lane and turned it into a hostel for its new Irish employees.

Factory manager, Mr E Stafford whose idea it was to turn to Ireland for staff, said: “Everything has been done to make the hostel a second home for the girls who are working in an English cotton mill for the first time in their lives.

“We hope they will be the first of a large number of Irish workers to come over and work at Sumner’s,” he added.

The Chronicle sent a reporter to Redcourt to interview the four who all said they were settling in well and had been given a warm welcome by the Glossop girls.

Philomena Egan, from Limerick, was a former dressmaker and like her three friends had volunteered to take part in a work scheme by the Ministry of Labour which was working with English cotton mills to recruit in Ireland.

Her friend Bridget Maloney, from Dublin, where she worked making rosary beads, said she came to England because there were far more job opportunities’ than there were back home.

Kathleen Kerrigan and Kathleen Granger, also from the two Irish cities, also liked living and working  in Glossop.

The four were trained by a Miss A Ford of Simmondley, who said they were ‘shy’ at first but soon settled in.

At Redcourt, once the impressive home of Lord Doverdale, they were looked after by a Mrs Ireland,  a cook and a cleaner.

They must have found life strange at first, their bedrooms were oak panelled and central heated, each had a radio, and there were spacious grounds to stroll in.

There were bedrooms galore at Redcourt, enough to be shared by 45 people, and each were given their own locker.

More and more workers came from southern Ireland to work at Sumner’s, most settling in Glossop and making it their home, albeit, their second one.

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