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Historians preserve the history of East Lancashire's footwear industry
HISTORIANS are now looking to preserve the story of the Rossendale Valley’s footwear industry before it is too late.
For nearly a century-and-a-quarter, companaies from Haslingden to Rawtenstall, Cloughfold and Bacup were synonymous with shoe and slipper manufacturing.
But while there are still plenty of footwear companies up and down Newchurch Road, they are mainly involved in wholesale and reselling products made in the Far East.
Only two specialists, employing less than 50 and producing 50,000 pairs per year, are left from a heyday which once saw millions of boxes flying out of the valley’s factories.
Now Peter Dunn, who is working on behalf of REAL (Rossendale Enterprise Anchor Ltd), is looking to preserve the visual and oral history of an occupation which once employed 9,000 people at a time in East Lancashire.
Mr Dunn said: “This project will allow people to share their experiences and memories, to reminsce on the ‘good times’, and maybe not so good, for current and future generations to understand the importance of the industry on the community.
“It will bring people together again, as they once worked together in this labour-intensive industry.”
Supporters of the scheme are anxious to get started.
That is because the numbers of those who worked within the factories are dwindling each year.
Interviews conducted as part of the initiative will be entered into the Northwest Sound Archives in Manchester, and a website and social media offshoots are also planned.
The end of the project will also see a DVD created and transcript booklet, with braille copies available on request.
People eager to get involved in the work, either by sharing memories or as a volunteer, are asked to contact Peter on 01282 450259 or alternatively e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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