Courtauld connects with Preston – and there’s a reunion on the cards

Posted on - 19th February, 2018 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Arts, City Centre, History, Nostalgia, Preston City Centre, Things to Do in and around Preston, What's On in Preston
Tea break in the former Courtaulds factory
Tea break in the former Courtaulds factory

From fishing to the foxtrot, darts to the Hokey Cokey – Courtaulds textile factory may have been one of Preston’s largest employers, but a new exhibition at the Harris includes memories that extend far beyond the factory walls.


The Courtauld Connects exhibition is part of a UK-wide project, which aims to get The Courtauld Institute of Art closer to former Courtaulds towns.

The Red Scar factory was a huge part of life in Preston from 1939 to 1980, employing thousands of local people in rayon manufacturing.

You can watch an introduction to the project, made by Gary Cunliffe, below.

Cunliffe interviewed three former employees for the exhibition – Jack, Subhash and Tara – and you can listen as they re-live happy memories of life at Courtaulds.

Jack, who worked at the factory from 1945 until it closed in 1980, reminisces about the various sports and social clubs. He talks about the dances that were held every other Saturday during winter – there’d be foxtrots, waltzes and the Hokey Cokey, followed by a walk back down to Gamull Lane roundabout to catch the 10.30pm bus home.

You can also view video, photos and various pieces of factory memorabilia at the exhibition, including a machine part known as the “Cake Box” – not to mention this French Impressionist masterpiece. There’s a chance to add your own memories to the exhibition, and a Courtaulds reunion could even be on the cards.

Read more: Watch documentary charting the final days of Courtaulds

Lindsey McCormick, Fine Art Curator at the The Harris, said: “The exhibition is on until 20 May, but the project will run and run. So many local people used to work there, or had relatives who did, and there are lots of memories. We want to build a picture of what working life was like, and the kind of people who were employed there.”

Were you were part of the Courtaulds heyday? You can leave your memories in the comments below, and you can get involved in the project by calling 01772 905409 or emailing

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