Courtaulds memories live on at Carrickfergus Museum

The launch of a booklet on the Courtaulds factory and the screening of a short film are to be hosted at Carrickfergus Museum.

The project film is being screened in Carrickfergus Town Hall on December 11. Places are available for members of the public to attend. Booking in advance is required.
The project film is being screened in Carrickfergus Town Hall on December 11. Places are available for members of the public to attend. Booking in advance is required.

It comes as part of a project undertaken by National Museums NI, which has 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.

Courtaulds Factory.

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.

Factory 'prominent' in local landscape

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, added: “It is a bittersweet day not only celebrating Courtaulds’ 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 Saturday (December 11).

A limited number of places are available for members of the public to attend; to book a free place, contact Carrickfergus Museum on 028 93358241 or [email protected]

Afterwards the film will 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.