Courtaulds - Members' Memories

Gordon Mears

I was prompted by reading Peter Lee's article to write about my memories of Courtalds factory.  I spent my school years living on Princes St across from the Police houses. I used to pass by the factory on my way to school on Greenmore Road, I crossed the "patch", then up a back lane, over the canal bridge and another back lane to reach school.  I used to be there all day as I stayed at school for lunch.
Of course this was during the war.  One day coming home I crossed the bridge, came down the lane and what did I see but the entire patch covered with American soldiers and their vehicles - mostly trucks.  I wandered into the camp with no one bothering me, I guess I looked harmless in those days.  As  I wandered around, probably looking for someone to give me some gum, I found a soldier working at a vice.  He was filing a half a crown to make something.  To my young eyes this man was destroying a valuable coin, one that I very likely had never owned.  He said Hi to me and with that I took off home as I was  not sure whether we were supposed to talk to them.  They seemed to be from another planet with all their equipment, fancy uniforms and food we had never seen before.
Anyway they were there for some weeks and then one day I walked by the patch and they had all gone as quickly as they  had arrived.  I have often wondered what they were doing there but I was too scared to ask.
Peter is right about the clock influencing our lives, living so close to it we could never use the excuse that we did'nt know the time! I remember walking towards the patch on Marlborough Rd and seeing, across the street from the factory, some buildings built from the same red stone as the main plant.  I ofter wondered what they were and what was going on in there.  I think they were the cafeteria, or maybe offices.  My Dad used to work for Courtalds after the war when he quit working in the coalmine, I think he was in the boiler house.

Footnote from Pat Boucher

There were two other buildings which formed part of the Courtaulds factory. One, on the other side of Marlborough Road, was the canteen which had a marvellous ballroom. This building is still there and is still used as commercial premises. The other was the office block which is now "The Old Mill" doctor's surgery.

The architect was Harry Quick who also designed the Coventry Courtaulds buildings. Both factories were built from lovely pink bricks which came from Webster Hemmings brickyard in Foleshill.

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