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Undated article from an “Evening Telegraph Special Supplement” titled “The Good Old Days”

Ideal Clothiers

Hundreds worked in an Ideal world

The clothing industry in Northamptonshire has given employment to generations of local people since the turn of the century.

One of the largest companies in the area was Ideal Clothiers of Wellingborough, founded in 1900 by Lewis Jessop, who previously had a factory with 100 workers in Nelson Street, Kettering.

The firm made men's and boys' suits, overcoats and blazers, ladies' coats and dresses, hats and caps and school uniforms and made electrically-heated suits for airmen during the Second World War.

Its first Wellingborough works were built on the corner of Mill Road and Strode Road and were expanded in 1906 and 1910. A second factory was erected in Victoria Road in 1915, with extensive additions in 1923 and 1928, and premises in Elsden Road were bought in 1929.

Photograph showing the workrooms in Mill Road Wellingborough
A number of staff working on ladies' costumes and coats
in one of the workrooms in Mill Road, Wellingborough.
Photograph showing part of the Pressing Room, Wellingborough
A portion of the Pressing Room, Wellingborough.

Branch factories were also opened in Burton Latimer, Woodford, Finedon, Raunds and Thrapston. The Burton factory closed in 1963 and cheap imports forced the others (except Raunds) to follow in 1979.

Photograph showing the Burton Latimer branch works
The Burton Latimer branch works
which closed in 1963

In the 1960s and 1970s Ideal still employed more than 600 people. However, its Wellingborough and Raunds operations closed in 1981 due to falling orders, with the loss of 200 jobs.

The empty Victoria Road factory was bought in 1985 by the K G Laurence Group, which leased parts of it to various small businesses.

These premises were demolished in March this year to make way for new development.

Kettering 's oldest and largest clothing company was Wallis and Linnell, formed in 1856. (Click here for more information about this company). Its headquarters was in School Lane (now Weaver's Medical Centre) and it had a second factory in the town's Regent Street .

During the Second World War the firm made almost 100,000 service garments for the WAAF and WRNS as well as 30,000 pairs of RAF trousers.

At one time Wallis and Linnell also had branch factories in Cottingham, Brigstock, Woodford, Burton Latimer, Rothwell, and Gretton. It closed in 1979.

The firm had many proud boasts - it was the first in town to use a typewriter, install internal phones, and adopt a Tannoy system.

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