Friday, May 20, 2022

The derelict Corah factory site in Leicester

When I was at a loss for something to photograph in my early days with a digital camera, I used to turn to the Leicester Mercury to see what the city council was proposing to pull down or allow to be pulled down. Then I would go and record it before it was too late.

In recent weeks the newspaper has been concerned with the future of the massive and largely derelict Corah site. 

As a Mercury article explains:

The slogan “Leicester clothes the world” reflected the civic pride and confidence in the economic strength of our city’s manufacturing industry.

Established in 1830, Nathaniel Corah and Sons epitomised the industrial landscape of Leicester, growing to become the largest producer of knitwear in Europe. It was the first clothing partner of Marks & Spencer, widely-accepted to have been instrumental to their success.

Corah's use of the St Margaret’s label inspired Marks & Spencer to run their own St Michael line for over 80 years. One of the major employers in Leicester, Corah had 1,000 workers in 1900, and by the 1960s, had expanded to 6,500.

The company became known for its commitment to good working conditions, training schemes and was one of the first companies in the country to offer paid holidays. 

But Corah's closed in the 1990s and, while some small businesses are based in and around the site, much of it now lies derelict.

The plans for redevelopment would save the fa├žade of the main building and a couple of chimneys at the edge of the site. Leicester Civic Society is disappointed in the plans, while some of the people interviewed for a vox pop piece in the Mercury dutifully came up with the word - "eyesore" - the newspapers use for such occasions.

More interestingly, some of the remaining businesses are dance studios and gyms and struggling to find suitable premises elsewhere.

Anyway, the Corah site is wonderful: full of the industrial dereliction that I love to photograph. And I even found a plaque recording a bit of its history hidden in its deepest recesses.

1 comment:

David Evans said...

Sad that a good employer in the UK that offered good jobs with positive terms and conditions of employment was allowed to go to the wall, by our society's never ending search for cheapness at any cost.

Doubtless its work is now done far, far away, in countries with far worse conditions of work than those here, and quite possibly in much more authoritarian countries whose leaders despise our values and even seek to actively undermine and ultimately destroy our the way of life.