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INTERVIEW: Lancaster fabric firm celebrates 100 years as iconic clock ticks again

Emma Douglas and Anthony Wilding from Standfast and Barracks, and right, the company clock

Staff at a Lancaster fabric firm have marked its centenary with a special day and by celebrating that its iconic clock is working again after more than 40 years.

Standfast & Barracks opened its doors to invited guests on Wednesday to celebrate its centenary.

In readiness for the occasion, the clock and four clock faces overlooking Caton Road were refurbished, lit up and fully mechanised to get it ticking again.

"It's really important to us, it's the gateway into Lancaster and it's the focal point of the town," said Emma Douglas from Standfast and Barracks.

"It hasn't worked for approximately 40 years. Technically it has worked but you'd have had to climb to the top of it and wound it every morning. It's now been mechanised so it can do that job all on its own. it's also been lit up so you can see it from the centre of the town."

LISTEN to our interview with Emma Douglas from Standfast & Barracks

The clock was designed by Lancastrian Edward Paley and is Grade 2 listed.⁠ The building work started in 1863 and was completed in 1864.⁠⠀⁠⠀

Standfast & Barracks has operated from the site on Caton Road since its inception, and has grown into a multi-million pound business printing over one million metres of exquisite fabric a year.

It counts many of the world’s leading designers, including brands such as Sanderson, Zoffany and Morris and Co amongst its clients.

In 2020 the firm was the winners of the Queens Award for Enterprise: International Trade and last year, welcomed Catherine, Princess of Wales, for a visit.

The company, which has around 150 employees, creates fabric for furnishings including curtains, cushions and furniture, and also prints for the apparel and haberdashery industry, and technical textiles for the Ministry of Defence.

Emma, who has worked for the firm for 31 years, said: "I think what we do is very specialised now, we work very hard to make this a great place to work.

"We have reinvented ourselves a number of times as fashions have changed. We've always managed to create and innovate to drive us forward and there is a plan now to take us through the next 100 years."

Events the company has organised to mark the centenary include a summer party for employees at Lancaster Brewery, taking part in Light Up Lancaster and a design competition for local schoolchildren who created their own prints and then came into the factory to watch their production, and the unveiling of a heritage plaque on Caton Road.

On Wednesday, Beyond Radio visited Standfast & Barracks to speak to staff including Peter Elliston, who has worked for the company for 51 years, more than half its overall existence.

LISTEN to our interview with Peter Elliston (pictured below)

We also spoke to Standfast & Barracks bulk colourist Eve Thomson, pictured here, centre, with colleagues Georgie Gascoigne and Liz Stokes.

Eve is on an apprenticeship at Standfast & Barracks, doing a leadership and management course.

LISTEN to our interview with Lisa Montague (pictured below), CEO of Sanderson Design Group, owners of Standfast & Barracks

Read more: Lancaster firm's iconic clock tower to be given facelift to mark 100 years in business - Beyond Radio

IN PICTURES: Catherine, Princess of Wales visits Lancaster - Beyond Radio

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