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Derry factory girls: Council U-turn on Rosemount artwork

The Stitch In Time artwork

Image copyright
Courtesy of the artist

Image caption

The Stitch In Time artwork has become synonymous with Derry’s city skyline at night

Councillors in Londonderry have voted to reverse a decision to remove a tribute to the city’s factory girls.

In September, Derry City and Strabane District Council voted to remove the A Stitch in Time artwork from the roof of the former Rosemount shirt factory because of cost concerns.

The council said it needed work costing £12,350 and there were also ongoing annual costs.

A committee has now voted to keep the artwork at its current location.

The artwork is a tribute to the thousands of women that were employed in the city’s shirt factories.

The decision to remove the artwork and place it in cold storage sparked an angry backlash from local people and former factory workers.

“Members of the Business and Culture Committee yesterday approved a proposal to carry out the required repairs and proceed with ongoing maintenance of the Stitch in Time artwork on the roof of the Rosemount Factory site,” a council spokesman said.

Image copyright
Bert Hardy/getty images

Image caption

Workers leaving Tillie and Henderson’s shirt factory in November 1955

The spokesperson added: “The re-commissioning of the artwork, at a cost of £12,350 and annual maintenance at of £4,950 represents the most cost effective means to retain the Stitch in Time installation upon the roof of Rosemount Factory.”

A Stitch in Time was erected on the roof of Rosemount factory during Derry’s year as UK City of Culture in 2013.

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Media captionA look back at the shirt industry in Derry in the 1970s

It was commissioned by public art organisation, Artichoke, as one of a number of light installations for the City of Culture programme and created by artist Tim Etchells.

It is a 22-metre long, two-metre high artwork of steel letters adorned with hundreds of LED bulbs forming the words A Stitch in Time.

‘Structural failure’

In September, Derry City and Strabane District Council said it had been made aware of structural failure in the artwork in February 2019.

The council added that it had a budget of £20,000 for the upkeep of more than 80 pieces of public art.

The council committee vote on Wednesday now has to be formally ratified by full council.

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