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Tracking down former workers of shoe factory

Completing extensions to the Go Gay Shoes Ltd factory in January 1965 where the workforce of 90 was 'expected to be doubled in the next five or six years'.
Completing extensions to the Go Gay Shoes Ltd factory in January 1965 where the workforce of 90 was 'expected to be doubled in the next five or six years'.

A local history expert is in the early stages of organising a reunion – and it’s all thanks to meeting an old workmate on a bus.

The idea of a “get together” involving former workers of the Go Gay Shoes Ltd factory, in South Shields, is the brainchild of Janet Wylie.

The Go Gay Shoes Ltd. factory in June 1975 shortly before it closed down.

The Go Gay Shoes Ltd. factory in June 1975 shortly before it closed down.

I’ll let Janet explain.

“I was travelling home on the E1 from Sunderland,” said the woman behind the WEA Learners’ The Streets of South Shields series of book, “and I recognised a lady who had worked in the office of the Go Gay shoe factory in Maxwell Street.

“We ended up reminiscing all the way back to Shields.

“It was such a good feeling going back in time and remembering lots of the people who had worked at the Go Gay.

“I myself worked there in the factory at the dispatch end. We had some right laughs – and the gossip back then was second to none.

“Anyways, when I got home I thought ‘wouldn’t it be great to organise a get-together?’ And that is where I am at the moment, at the start of putting together a reunion for like-minded people.

“To this end, I got in touch with my lovely friend Elsie Stewart (nee Brennan) who I met when I was 15-years-old and she was 19-years-old, at the Go Gay.

“We are meeting up with another ex-worker, Lynda Jones, nee Welsh, to put together a list of all the people we can remember.

“What we would very much like is for people to get in touch with us so that we can gather information and gauge how many people would be interested.

“This will enable us to log people’s telephone numbers so that we can let them know when the event will take place.

“Any photos from that time, even if it is just one, would be a great bonus as we would like to put together a memory board for display on the actual night of the reunion.

“I am a bit hesitant on dates, but I am sure there are lots of people who can put me right. I believe I started work at the Go Gay in 1969 at the age of 15 and I worked there for approximately three to four years. I think the factory closed mid 1970s.

“I believe I am right in saying that the factory was first started in the John Clay Street area of the town and that after a fire it was relocated to its ‘new’ premises in Maxwell Street. These premises are still there to this day and are I believe in use by some other firm.

“Years ago, I heard of a play which was written about the Go Gay and the fire, I think it was performed at the Westovians. Again this is information which needs confirming.

“The owner of Go Gay was a Mr Goodman – I heard that he had originally worked at the town’s Eskimo Slipper factory before setting up his own business.

“If anyone would like to get involved or has any information or pictures they can contribute, then they can get in touch with me on 07954 413542 or 0191 455 4830 or emial me on 54janetw@gmail.com