A CLOTHING factory which had moved to South Cumbria during the Second World War lost its battle to stay in business at the end of 1997.

News of the Millom closure by Hanbury was announced in The Mail on Tuesday, December 18.

The business had been started as Thomas Nesbitt’s in 1944 under the Market Square clock tower after the firm’s Manchester base had been bombed.

The Mail noted: "Stunned staff at Millom's Hanbury Manufacturing Company were today trying to come to terms with the loss of their 60 jobs.

"The company, which took over the factory almost four years ago, announced the January redundancies yesterday.

"The move has been blamed on a decline in orders in the wake of floods of cheap imports.

"Production manager Paul Kirkman praised staff for their 'flexibility, understanding and hard work' over the past 12 months but said order books were almost non-existent.

"He said only one to two weeks' work had been booked for the whole of the first quarter of 1998, despite several attempts to break into other markets."

Millom's MP Jack Cunningham said: "I am very sorry to hear the news and clearly I will be in touch with people in the development agency for West Cumbria to see whether there is any way of helping."

On December 19, The Mail spoke with workers at Hanbury and took pictures of the production process.

Mona Shelton said: "I've been here nearly 40 years and only had two weeks being laid off during that time.

"It's a shame the factory's closing because it has been all I've known.

"All my friendships have been built here. I came here when I left school - it was Nesbitt’s when I started."

The Millom factory had been saved in 1993.

The Mail, on December 11, noted: "Seventy workers from Millom and West Cumbria face a bleak New Year on the dole following shock news that nightwear manufacturers Thomas Nesbitts is closing at Christmas.

"The company with factories in The Square, Millom, and Cleator Moor, has gone into voluntary liquidation, despite having a big order book and an excellent workforce."

By December 30 in 1993, the Mail noted: "The liquidator, Manchester-based Leonard Curtis and Partners, confirmed it was still trying to find a buyer.

"But manager Paul Keeley said the machinery would be dismantled and sold if nobody came forward within two to three weeks.

"Production stopped last week and the mainly female workforce spent an uncertain Christmas on the dole."

The Mail, on Thursday, January 6 in 1994, noted that a deal to take over the firm had been negotiated with London-based Hanbury Manufacturing and the change in ownership would preserve 65 of the 70 jobs — making everything from boxer shorts and jogging suits to skirts, dresses and tops.