Interviews

The Chorley Mills project has interviewed many former mill workers in the Chorley area. Listen to the interviews here or click the links to download them. More interviews will be added as they are edited.

Interview with Dennis Joyce – May 2016

Ancilliary Worker at Talbot Mill, Chorley from 1982 – 1989. Documents relating to his employment can be seen here.

Memories of working the night shift.

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Dennis Joyce 1

Memories of playing for Talbot Mill football team.

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Dennis Joyce 2

Interview with Irene Patten and Katherine Jackson – May 2016

Irene and Katherine both worked at Talbot Mill in the late 1950’s in the spinning area. They mention wartime Austrian refugees who worked at the mill and had accommodation nearby. Does anyone have any further information about this?

the wedding of Mary Wrightson and Cyril Gilman at St Paul’s Withnell circa 1958
The wedding of Mary Wrightson and Cyril Gilman at St Paul’s Withnell circa 1958. Irene Patten (nee Roscoe) is to the right of the bride.
Irene and Kathleen Talbot mill 1950s
Irene and Kathleen are on this photo of starters at Talbot Mill in the 1950s. Do you recognise anyone else?

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Irene Patton and Katherine Jackson

Interview with Eileen Davies (nee Bond) – May 2016

Eileen worked in several mills, both spinning and weaving from the mid 1950s. Including Fletcher’s, Lawrence’s and Talbot.

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Eileen Davies

Interview with Eileen’s sister Mavis Pearson – June 2016

Mavis adds further detail to her sister’s interview. Telling of visiting their parents and playing at Fletcher’s mill.

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Mavis Pearson

Interview with Mary Hunter – May 2016

Mary worked a winder in Boothman’s Mill in Clayton le Woods in the 1930s.

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Mary Hunter

Chorley Mills
Mary Hunter being interviewed

Chorley Mills

 

Interview with Keith Ashcroft – July 2016

Keith worked as a creeler, piecer and tackler at Talbot Mill in the 1950s. Here he shares some fascinating technical insights into the operation of the spinning side of the mill.

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Keith Ashcroft

Keith Ashcroft
Keith Ashcroft

Interview with Ernest and Dorothy Green – July 2016

Ernest and Dorothy started work at Gillettes Mill in Standish Street, Chorley during WWII and worked at several other mills.

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Ernest and Dorothy Green

Interview with Gordon Wilson – July 2016

Gordon started as an apprentice aged 16 at Talbot Mill in 1961 and worked his way up to being a tackler, then foreman. He has some very interesting stories to tell about sexual harrassment by female workers and other racy incidents!

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Gordon Wilson

Part two of interview with Gordon Wilson. Amongst other things, he tells of an attempted wages robbery at the mill and drink fuelled day trips to Blackpool.

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Gordon Wilson 2

Interview with Hilda Lopacinski – June 2016

Hilda was born in Austria, but travelled to Chorley in 1950 to work at Talbot Mill after seeing an advertisement in her home country. She tells how a mistranslation led to foreign workers at the mill spending Boxing Day in fear.

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Hilda Lopacinski

Interview with Hilda Miller – June 2016

Hilda, aged 102 at the time of this interview was born during WWI and started work at Greenfield Mill in Steeley Lane aged 14.

Hilda Miller
Hilda Miller being interviewed

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Hilda Miller

Interview with Ben Ainscough – June 2016

Ben studied textiles at ‘tech’ and started work at Talbot Mill doing time and motion studies in the early 1960s and later moved into the sales department.

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Ben Ainscough

Interview with Doreen ‘Pansy’ Potter – June 2016

After leaving Chorley Grammar School at 16, Doreen initially worked as a shop assistant. However, after hearing of a government initiative to train mill workers, she started as a weaver at Park Mill alongside her grandmother and auntie.

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Doreen Potter

Interview with John Fishwick – June 2016

John started as a weaver at Greenfield mill, Steeley Lane in the late 1940s. After completing his nation service, he returned to the mill and trained as a tackler. He was made redundant from several mills as they closed.

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John Fishwick

John with his tackler's tools.
John with his tackler’s tools. Unusually, these were metric. Issued by the company to work on Swiss looms.
John's tacklers tools.
John’s tacklers tools.

Interview with David Finlay – July 2016

David started work as a trainee accountant a Coppull Ring Mill soon after leaving school. He worked in several mills in Lancashire on the admin side and eventually had his own spinning mill.  He tells of how the former accountant at Talbot Mill got on the wrong side of international gangsters with tragic results.

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David Finlay

Interview with Mavis Cowling and Stuart Nelson – July 2016

Mavis and Stuart are brother and sister. Stuart worked at Talbot Mill for six months before being driven out due to bullying by female workers. Mavis worked as a weaver at Croft Mill after leaving school.

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Mavis Cowling & Stuart Nelson

Mavis Cowling at her Lancashire Loom
Mavis Cowling at her Lancashire Loom
Mavis Cowling
Mavis Cowling

Mavis Cowling and fellow mill workers in the 1950s and 60s

 

Stuart Nelson gives an eyewitness account of the steam engine flywheel exploding at Smethurst’s Mill where his brother was working in 1951. One mill worker was killed and many seriously injured as well as houses being badly damaged on nearby Preston Street.

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Stuart Nelson Smethurst's Explosion

Photos and newspaper articles relating to the explosion. Italian girl Adreina Padovan was badly injured and one man, overlooker Walter France, was killed.

Jean Mercer started work at Talbot Mill as a wages clerk aged 16 and eventually became PA to mill manager Tom Bentham. She tells of Dansette parties in the upstairs rooms of pubs, an attempted wages robbery where the money ended up in the canal and getting to see the room sized computer at Courtaulds HQ in Manchester in the mid 1970s.

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Jean Mercer

Interview with Jaqueline Ainscough (nee Graham) with contributions by husband Ben. Jaqueline started straight from school at Talbot Mill as an office junior in 1966. Apologies for the poor sound quality in places.

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Jaqueline Graham

Interview with David Brown. David worked at Talbot Mill in the 1960s, mainly in weaving. He started straight after leaving ‘tech’ despite being legally too young. He studied textiles at Blackburn Tech where they had a huge weaving shed for learning purposes. He mentions Hungarian workers who had fled the 1956 uprising against the Soviet government living on the mill site.

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David Brown

Interview with Ann and Scott Marsden. Both worked at Talbot Mill in the 1980s. Ann as a winder, creeler, pinner and weaver, Scott as a sweeper and forklift driver. By this time, mill workers were issued with earplugs to prevent hearing damage and their use was mandatory. After leaving the mill, Ann worked at Chorley Post Office for many years but returned to weaving recently at the Jacquard Weaving Co in Withnell where technology and machinery have moved on a lot!

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Ann and Scott Marsden

Interview with Pamela Brown. Pamela worked at Canal Mill from 1951-58 in the combing room. She tells of workers swimming in the canal at lunch time on hot days. The mill closed due to the Suez crisis when they could no longer get supplies of Egyptian cotton. The machinery could not deal with coarser American cotton.

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Pamela Brown