Project aims to reunite staff from old Mayfair stitching factory

The Mayfair Factory was one of Portadown’s biggest employers and an exciting project has started to reunite former staff and gather photos and memories.

Did you work there before it closed in 1979? If so, Mayfair Business Centre would like to hear from you.

Some workers at the old Mayfair stitching factory (from left) Barbara Halliday, Marie Hayes, Elizabeth McClelland, and Marie Cullen.

Some workers at the old Mayfair stitching factory (from left) Barbara Halliday, Marie Hayes, Elizabeth McClelland, and Marie Cullen.

They want former workers at the stitching factory to discuss their memories and experiences of working there.

This unique history project is being supported by Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council as part of the PEACE IV Shared Spaces and Services programme.

It’s a cross-border initiative, financed through the European Union and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) and designed to support peace and reconciliation across the island.

Originally established at Mill Avenue in Portadown, the Mayfair manufacturing company once employed almost 1,000 people at its various sites in Portadown, Gilford, Keady, Belfast as well as Brixton in London.The old Mayfair factory was closed around 1979 as globalisation of labour intensive industries began to take hold. Then, around 300 workers, mostly women, losing their jobs.

The Business Centre wants to compile a multi-media history project, recording the workers’ experiences. They want people who worked there to join a reminiscence/oral history project to record what it was like in the factory during the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, and the impact its closure had.

Ursula Kearns from Mayfair Business Centre said: “The intention would be for the former workers to meet on a regular basis over coming months and to talk and chat about their times in Mayfair. It will be very informal and a chance for old friends and acquaintances to meet.

“We intend that the project will be very much led by those taking part, so we expect that it will touch upon other work-places in the town as well as people’s social lives. It’s also intended that the project will result in a permanent exhibition within Mayfair, which will not only include the video-recorded interviews but also old photo’s and other items.”

Anyone interested in joining the project should contact Ursula Kearns at Mayfair by telephone on 028 38 391666 or email ursula@mayfairbusinesscentre.com

The Tyrone-based BEAM Creative Networks will help facilitate delivery of the project and provide video-recording, design and other support. The present Mayfair Business Centre was established in 1995 as a community-owned enterprise and officially opened in 1996. The Business Centre has gone through a number of phases of development in the intervening years. It has proven to be a success with twenty-eight businesses occupying a total of 38 units in the Mayfair complex - around 48,000 sq ft of space.

Match-funding for this project has been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.