Parachutes & Corsets


Unmitigated England is full of buildings and bits of buildings that start life in one place and then wake up one morning in another, sometimes quite incongruous, location. Such is the fate of this bell tower that once looked out over the centre of Market Harborough from the top of the red brick six storey high Symington corset factory. Put up there in 1876, it housed a bell cast by the famous Taylor's in Loughborough. I'm not exactly sure when it was taken down and placed at the centre of flower beds in the town's Welland Park, but a plaque was put on it in 1977 to commemorate the Queen's Jubilee. Symington's were famous in the town for both corsets and soups, and examples of both trades can be found in the excellent museum that now resides in the cupola-less factory. But perhaps even more amazing is the fact that the Symington's of blush-inducing underwear went on to make over one million parachutes for the RAF in the Second World War. When I read this I have to confess that the thought did cross my mind as to whether they were shell pink with elasticated suspension. Only fleetingly of course.

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