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Clifford Williams & Sons, clothing manufacturers.
The vacant Clifford Williams factory in Straits Road pictured just before demolition c2012
The rear of the demolished works, only a small part of the old wall remains. Photo 2015
The Clifford Williams factory was situated opposite 'The Fiddlers Arms', in its heyday, the works employed many Gornal women manufacturing for the clothing industry.
The factory closed in the early 1990s and the buildings were subsequently used by the local plumbing and heating firm CHN.
CHN founded in 1970, sold out to the energy firm 'eon' in 2008 and the buildings vacated.
The buildings were demolished in 2013 and the plot is currently unused.
An earlier Clifford Williams two storey factory was located off Louise Street at the rear of where the Sainsbury's supermarket now stands in Louise Street, Gornal Wood.
The Gornal Sewing Trade
One of the reasons why Clifford Willams chose to build a factory at Gornal Wood was the ready supply of experienced sewing machinists in the Village as the following article from 1932 reports.
A newspaper article in the Birmingham Gazette, Wednesday, 15 June 1932 describes the Village's Sewing Trade.
Black Country Village where the Men Run the Homes, their womenfolk find the moneyGornal Wood, the most westerly of the three Gornals, is a village of seamstresses. In common with other parts of the Black Country, the women in Gornal Wood for a number of generations have stitched clothes which have been cut out by tailors in their establishments some miles away. At one time the wages received by the seamstresses for this home-stitching were a useful supplement to their men's money, but to-day in many homes in Gornal Wood these "stitcheries" are an absolute necessity for the livelihood of the family.
They Stitch & Stitch from Morn Till Night.
Their Old TradeMany of the wives were formerly employed in clothing factories, and the pressure of economic circumstances has driven them to their old trade but at home. It is the wife who works-while the husband, frequently as unemployed collier who has exhausted his insurance benefit, does the house-work. For, as one of them said to me, "Somebody's got to do it." So while the woman treadles the machine, her husband peels the potatoes-if there area any. Years ago, children carried "sewing" or "work" as it was called, to and from the tailor's shop, but the area of supply has widened, and now includes Birmingham. Sometimes the journey is made by bus, but often a lorry, or a truck, hired collectively by several woman carries the work twice or three times a week.
Girls From SchoolI asked a well-known resident what was the extent of home-stitching, and he replied "There's a tremendous amount of it, in some houses you will find perhaps half-a-dozen machines going." Not only do the wife, daughters, and daughters-in-law stitch, but I was told that women employ girls leaving school to work for them. "What about the factory regulations?" I asked, and my informant could only spread this hands. " and the wages paid for the sewing?"
"Well, I don't know" he replied " but I think they're not very big."
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