You are here: Home > Learning Zone > Teachers Forum > The Tobacco Factory  

Learning Zone

W.D. & H.O. WILLS and the TOBACCO FACTORY

This study began when Luckwell Primary School in Bristol worked with electricdecember.A modern view of North Street and The Tobacco Factory taken by Keith Christmas The Show of Strength Theatre Company season at the Tobacco Factory was about to begin with a play based on the Wills factory girls, written by Amanda Whittington.

The idea was to interview Wills girls in the area, for an exhibition in the foyer of the theatre in the Tobacco Factory. Apart from the initial meeting and emails electricdecember organised the project with a group of Year 6 pupils.

W.D. & H.O. Wills was an important and well regarded employer in Bristol at the turn of the twentieth century with several factories producing tobacco based products in various locations around the city. Many people who were employed by the company, mainly women, have vivid memories of their working lives.

The Wills factories were impressive landmarks. After the factories closed in 1988 some were demolished but others remain; adapted to new, modern purposes. The Number 3 Factory on the corner of Raleigh Road and North Street opened in 1906 and was designed by Sir Frank Wills. It was a fairly plain building but had a distinctive style echoed in other local buildings and held important memories for the local community. A campaign was organised by George Ferguson which saved it from total demolition. The rescued part of the factory is now known as the Tobacco Factory and is a multi purpose building housing, restaurants, offices, cafes, a theatre and apartments.

The three linked lesson plans; The Factory Buildings; Interviewing the Wills Girls; Interpreting the Sources were originally for the year 6 class as part of their topic Bio-Town and the school intranet.

The two resource sheets; Wills Girls 1967 and Wills Girls - extracts from Wills Press show extracts from articles in Wills company newspapers.These were researched in Bristol City Library

Many listed industrial buildings have been converted to be used for new functions and could be studied in a similar manner. As Julia Christmas, the year 6 teacher at Luckwell Primary, involved in the project, wrote;

'This idea can easily be adapted to any local building and it really does bring history to life, especially when it is a building of interest in the local area'.

 

Please note that the inclusion of a listed building on this website does not mean it is open to the public.