Talk About Local is mapping part of the social history of the industrial era when whole towns would shut down for two week summer holiday together.
For modern families, with busy schedules it’s kind of a dream that your entire family could be off work and the kids off school all at the same time. But when I was a kid, Northampton used to shut down for factory fortnight every year – the last week of July and the first week of August. The local footwear factories and their supply chains would have a co-ordinated vacation, usually coinciding with the first two weeks of the town’s school holidays. The town would go dead, the populace would take off for the coast in Norfolk or Spain and The Northampton Town show would take over Abington park. Back in the 50s and 60s my grandad would close his leather factory (they made hand-grained morocco), put the family in the car and drive them all to Clacton-on-Sea.
But of course all this faded away with the decline of the shoe factories as a dominant employer. Northampton now is more of a warehouse town, delivering stuff 24/7. But the factory fortnight still resonates some of the remaining shoe factories like Church’s still shut for factory fortnight (although the factory shop stays open) and a fair few people, perhaps those a bit older still stick with the tradition.
Factory fortnights were common in towns with closely interlinked supply chains and probably peaked in the 1950s. Newark had a robust factory fortnight. In Stoke-on-Trent, Potters Fortnight is still apparently a popular holiday time, despite the lack of potteries. In Glasgow, the Glasgow Fair was similar. And the North East also had this tradition, to some extent based on Wakes Week usually resulting in a shut down in late June. There were even some co-ordinated regional shut downs where individual towns took turns to make sure one manufacturer was still open.
Although factory fortnights have largely died out, we still pick up echoes of it in our local work. So as a bit of local history we want to map the memories of factory fortnights across the country and what weeks they were in. When was the factory fortnight in your town? do you have any memories to share?
To put your town’s fortnight on the map: you can:
tweet us @talkaboutlocal
add information into the comments below or
add it directly onto the map as follows:
– go to the noticeboard http://factory.n0tice.com/
– sign up or log in to n0tice.com
– click on the blue ‘post’ button
– click on ‘report’
– enter the location, in the headline box put the name of the fortnight and the dates
– in the description box, please feel free to add pictures, URLs or any other information you have about the holiday in your area.
– click to post.
Your entry will automatically update on the map. It has been created using the Maptastica.com app which is part of the free open journalism toolkit which Talk About Local has been helping to develop. It can be embedded on your own blog or website too.
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