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Cockermouth Post Article November 2012 Ė Millerís of Derwent Mills

We were recently looking through our photographs, specifically at the collection we have relating to Millerís shoe factory, formerly housed in the present Derwent Mill flats. We have several good photographs of groups of workers, football teams (including a Millerís Ladiesí Football team), and views inside the various workshops. We know there will still be many former workers of Millerís living in the town, and this is an appeal to you for any memories you may have, however small, of what it was like to work there. If you would prefer it, we can come and talk to you and record memories, or you can jot something down on paper. Our picture shows a sewing room at Millerís Ė there must be people who recognise themselves, or relatives, working away at those sewing machines.

Millerís, housed in what was originally Harris Mill, came to Cockermouth from Great Yarmouth in 1940. They were shoe and slipper manufacturers, and brought with them around two hundred key workers, plus plant and machinery. In their hey-day they were producing around 70,000 pairs of footwear (shoes, boots and slippers) a week, for the retail trade at home and abroad. There was also a factory at Egremont (the former Ennerdale Mill) which was taken over by Millerís in 1952.

Millerís ceased trading in July 1990, after the receivers were called in. Plant and stock was auctioned off to offset the companyís debts, and 350 people lost their jobs Ė a significant loss in a town of this size. Newspaper accounts of the time report that there was a good working atmosphere between staff and management at the factory, with weekly meetings in the board room to discuss the following weekís work. Is this how other former workers remember it? Are there any amusing incidents from those long-gone days? We would love to hear from you.

Gloria Edwards

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