These calendars in lace were sent out annually to clients and colleagues by the French lace company, Noyon. A few weeks after these were donated at our Erewash Museum event, I had the pleasure of interviewing someone who grew up in the shadow of some of the biggest lace factories in Calais, and is still working in the lace trade as a self-employed agent.
All our stories so far have given a fascinating glimpse into the textile trade, but this one gives the unique perspective of a French business trainee coming into the East Midlands textile trade in the mid 1990s. Working at Interlace, Long Eaton, first on a placement, then as an employee, she recalls the social atmosphere, the workforce watching the 1998 Football World Cup, and the differences in language (for instance, ‘dyeing’, not ‘dying’!). She also marvelled at the skill of the ladies in the canteen, who knew how each person in each shift took their tea, perfectly preparing the drinks in time for each break.
Interlace Ltd was a converting and finishing company, dealing in lingerie lace. Their customers included Marks and Spencer, BHS and Asda, as well as exporting overseas to South Africa, Australia and Germany.
In her interview, she explains how first thing in the morning, faxes would come in from all over the world with orders – it was a time just before emails took over as the main means of communication. Taking care to ensure the customers received their orders on time, she would often help pack items up to meet shipping deadlines, enjoying ‘following the order’ right through to leaving the premises. Something she had trained for in her placement, as she had worked in each section, getting to know the systems and the machines. It was, however, the lace that held her interest – ‘I fell in love with the product’ she says, and who can blame her?
Did you work at Interlace in Long Eaton and have some memories or photos that we could share?
Article by Tonya Outtram, Research Fellow. Nottingham Trent University