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Talk at Annual Dinner 2013

The speaker for the annual dinner was Roger Kennell, Roger talked to us about the history of William Pretty and Company. William Pretty and company established a factory in Ipswich where they were England’s first corset manufacturer, their products later being distributed all over the world. The talk began with some of William Pretty’s life history leading up to the setting up of his drapery business in Ipswich then the establishment of his corset manufacturing company. The business was then taken over by his son also called William Pretty who although having differing opinions to his father also made for a very good guiding force for the company. It was William junior that hugely expanded the business internationally and also William junior that expanded the business out of Ipswich into surrounding villages and towns when he had trouble finding enough labour in Ipswich to fill the factory. Later members of the family ran the business but never with the same flair and ability of William Pretty and William Pretty Junior and as fashions moved away from corsets the business suffered finally going into liquidation in 1930. The talk then moved on to Symingtons of Market Harborough buying the factory and manufacturing new brands such as Avro and Liberty. Symingtons was in turn purchased by Courtaulds in 1968 but decline was continued and the factory finally closed in 1982. It had stood almost exactly for 100 years. This was an interesting talk and thoroughly enjoyed by the members and guests at one of Ipswich Engineering Society’s main events of the year.

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