This film is part of Free

Workers Leaving Symington's, Market Harborough

Striking close-ups of Edwardian corset makers

Non-Fiction 1901 4 mins Silent


One of the longer examples of Mitchell and Kenyon's many 'factory gate' films, this is also one of the most beautifully preserved. It's single, unusually close camera position uses the factory's imposing wooden doors to frame the workers as they leave. The upside of this is that we get to see the workers' faces in fantastic detail (except where buckling of the original negatives has introduced some blurring). The downside is that we don't see much of the building they're all piling out of.

As a result, the workplace in the film was initially hard to identify. Against the odds, though, it since has been: as the premises of W & HR Symington, corset makers, in Market Harborough, Leicestershire. Two of the Symington family are seen in the film: probably factory manager James L Symington (white haired and moustachioed, in a white suit and bowler at 0:12), and Perry Gold Symington (smiling in a dark jacket, skirt and matching hat at 0:13). Symington's operated until 1967, when it was acquired by the Courtauld Group. The magnificent Symington Building still stands today in Church Square, opposite St Dionysius church. Now owned by Harborough district council, since 2014 it has been the home of the town's library, museum and registry office, among other functions.