Thursday, 18 December 2014

Rochester Shirt Factory


Once upon a time, and it is not that long again in the grand scheme of things, the shirt industry was the pre-eminent industry in Londonderry. Most of the factories were situated on the west bank of the river but I can recollect at least two factories on the east bank or Waterside of the City. The largest of these was the Young &. Rochester factory at Bonds Field. It is now known as the Ebrington Centre. This factory was constructed in 1892 to a design by a William Barker with extensions in 1895 and 1900 by a Daniel Conroy. Prior to its closure I think that the factory was part of the Rael Brook Group.

My father was friendly with the engineer at the factory, one Norman Doherty. He was an avid gardener and for many years made use of the greenhouse within the factory grounds. Unfortunately he had early onset heart disease and passed away before he could enjoy his pension and avail of his travel card. In his latter years he started breeding finches. He converted the greenhouse at his house into a large aviary.

It can't have been long before the factory closed that I obtained a dress shirt from the factory shop. Unfortunately I have to accept that the style of the shirt is rather flamboyant for the twenty first century and I have now consigned it to the disposal bag. I wonder if it is the last shirt in existance with the Rochester label?

Sources: An Historical Gazetteer to the Buildings of Londonderry - Daniel Calley

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