1947 – Down Shoes Factory, Banbridge, Co. Down
A listed art deco building, initially built as an advance factory for the Northern Ireland Ministry of Commerce. In 1947, Down Shoes Ltd was opened to manufacture less expensive shoes for the Lotus Group. At it’s height, it became one of the largest employers in the area, employing 600 workers. Footwear was made with the brand names of Lotus, Marks and Spencer, Fii, and Frank Wright, although locally it was referred to as ‘the boot factory’. The factory closed its doors in 2002, when it became impossible to remain competitive, at which point it employed a little over 100 people. Since its closure it lay derelict for many years awaiting redevelopment into housing. It has since being redeveloped with houses on most of the site and the office block converted to apartments.