"The Winsham I Remember"

THE FACTORY             

I will start from the year 1900, the year I was born, but of course for the first few years I shall only be able to write as I have learnt from my parents, relatives and some of the older inhabitants. What I have learnt of these years have proved very interesting to me. 

I would assume that the most important item of interest in the village in the years just prior to 1900 would be the large factory, which by this time had stopped working, although I have been unable to trace an accurate date of when it finally stopped production, but I did in my own time actually meet two people who worked there. At the time it did not occur to me to ask when the factory closed. 

I should think that, judging by the size of the building, it must have employed all the available labour from the village, either directly or indirectly. It was a very large factory with about four floors and I am told it produced West of England Cloth, in fact, quite recently, I have heard of people in the village that actually possess cloth made in the factory. 
Now before we leave the factory, I must relate to you the story of one, Johnny Rowsell, probably one of the last few people alive in my time. (Another was George Good, who was later to become the village barber). Johnny Rowsell fulfilled a very important role in connection with the factory and this is the story he told me himself, and my own mother vouched for it being the truth. It would appear that one of his duties was to collect as much urine as he could from the village, as this was used in one of the processing operations in the course of the manufacture of the cloth.
I have heard my mother say, and I have heard this from others, that Johnny came around the village every morning with a very large hogshead barrel, mounted on wheels, and drawn by a donkey. This unusual contraption was known to one and all as "Johnny Rowsell's Brewery Wagon". (A star attraction at any transport museum, were it available today!). I am also told that if you were a regular saver, you were rewarded every Christmas with a coarse apron, which was an apron made of sacking and worn by women at that time, and indeed for many years later, when ever they were engaged in either heavy or dirty work. Mother was very pleased to tell me she missed hers and how much she appreciated the generous reward. When I first saw Johnny he was living in the last house in Church Street, on the right hand side, and later he moved across the road, to live in the first house on the opposite side, and as I remember, it was from here he was laid to rest.

see also The West of England Cloth Factory



This page revised 30 August 2009