I was sitting at a WI meeting yesterday in 2 Brunswick Square which is now the offices of Gloucestershire Federation of the Women’s Institute, (GFWI). The room we have our meetings in used to be the bedroom of Mrs Moreland whose family owned the match factory in Gloucester. It so happens that their matches were called England’s Glory so off my mind went to today’s haiku heights theme word, which is Glory!
Symbol on matchbox
proud “England’s Glory”
The factory was situated alongside the Gloucester to Sharpness canal which was a thriving transport system for the timber trade in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. All sorts of timber products were made there before matchsticks became their sole product. Originally the matches were handmade. This was a very dangerous job as white phosphorous was used in the tips. Conditions were so bad in London factories that the matchstick girls went on strike in 1888. You may have read Hans Christian Anderson’s beautiful story of The Little Match Girl. It is so sad! But, eventually conditions improved and a safer form of phosphorous was used in the making of safety matches. Before the first world war there were 650 people employed in Gloucester’s Match factory. but by 1911 a continuous automatic matchmaking machine was installed. Many of the workers at the factory went off to war in 1914 never to return, and due to the introduction of the machinery the number of workers dwindled.
When I first came to Gloucestershire in 1967 the factory was still operating but had been taken over by Bryant and May. They stopped making matches there and the factory closed in 1975. England’s Glory matches are still made, but they are made in Sweden now! There is a trading estate on the site of Moreland’s match factory now but there are still lots of reminders of the times gone by.
England’s Glory matchboxes were great fun. They had jokes or wise words on the backs. My husband remembers some.
One said, ” Trainee electrician – do they have to do Ohm work?”
Another said, ” A pessimist is someone who complains of the noise when opportunity knocks!”
Timber is still an important industry in Gloucester and the Sharpness Canal is still a thriving waterway.
Now where are my notes from that meeting?
Inspired by September Challenge day 21 at Haiku Heights