The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians.These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

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Family Historians have their own area on the site, so look there if your main interest is in tracing your family history.

Friday, December 10, 2004

The Flax Ladies

Glemsford Flax Factory Ladies
c. 1916

I'm fascinated by the group photo of the Glemsford Flax Factory staff. (the full detailed photograph is on the site). These ladies, with their striking features, gaze at the camera with a sullen dignity; bringing to mind Alexander Solzhenitsyn's wonderful phrase..

"The ferocious desire to appear happy at all times humiliates and undermines humanity. ...the inertia of accumulated suffering had freed us of that joyful air. In the face of the camera, our faces remain the way they are in real life -downcast."

The photograph was, we think, taken during the first world war, when Flax production was subsidised by the government. As always with group photographs, I ache to discover who they all were. We've identified a few; Miss Grimwood, Vin Prentice, M Shinn, R Shinn in the back row, and Mrs Clarke, Mrs Sparham and Mary Rampling in the front row.

The photograph hung in the doctor's surgery for a while, though I can think of cheerier scenes to choose.

The whole subject of the Flax industry is fascinating. It sustained Glemsford through a period of industrial and agricultural decline; there are still people around who worked in the Flax factories and have fascinating memories. It is the perfect subject of study for a local historian.


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