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Reddell’s corset factory girls’ memories of Sudbury Carnival

PUBLISHED: 07:10 14 August 2018

Reddell's prizewinning Sudbury Carnival float, 1957
Picture: SUDBURY MUSEUM TRUST

Reddell's prizewinning Sudbury Carnival float, 1957 Picture: SUDBURY MUSEUM TRUST

In the lead up to the Sudbury Carnival this weekend, we are taking a look back at the town’s processions of yesteryear.

Redell's staff model the latest creations produced in their Sudbury factory in 1957
Picture: SUDBURY MUSEUM TRUSTRedell's staff model the latest creations produced in their Sudbury factory in 1957 Picture: SUDBURY MUSEUM TRUST

I happened upon some carnival pictures, in the archive of Sudbury Museum Trust, taken in 1957 of the women who worked at Reddell’s corset factory in Sudbury.

A few years back I had the privilege of talking to a group of former Reddell’s co-workers who helped change the shape of women’s fashion during the war years and beyond. At a reunion event in 2012, they told me how they looked forward to the carnival.

Rona Eady, who was 84 at the time I interviewed her, said although the women worked from 8am to 5pm and at a particularly difficult time for Britain, the camaraderie between them made the job enjoyable.

She said: “We were always going on trips together and we did lots of really fun things.

“We used to get involved in the Sudbury carnival every year where we had a float called the Bermuda Belles, and I can remember when we moved to East Street, there was a piano.

“One of the girls played it and we were always singing when we were supposed to be sewing.”

The two pictures shown here are of Reddell’s prizewinning Sudbury Carnival float from 1957, and some of the staff who adorned it.

The company had recently moved in to producing swimming costumes as well as corsets and bras, hence the message on the back of the float. Pictured in the line-up are (from left) Zia Daniels, Eva Morgans, Dorothy Stearnes, Kathleen Drury, Joy Proudfoot and Joyce Bear. It was most probably taken at People’s Park which now has a housing development on it.

During the Second World War, Reddell’s was taken over by Americans and moved temporarily to the old Cundy & Sons seed merchants building in East Street. The company closed it’s Constitution Hill premises for good in 1989.

• Were you involved in a previous Sudbury Carnival? If you were and have some old pictures you’d like to share, please get in touch or post them via the Enjoy Sudbury More Facebook Group.

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