Belle Blog

Carol Smillie Visits Poppins

Posted by Richard on August 21st, 2014

The great thing about Poppins is that it throws up all sorts of memories, connections and links. Until today I would have struggled to find a connection between a famous Greenock labour dispute in the 80’s, an aspiring film-maker’s graduation animation and TV’s Carol Smillie’s new business venture… but today we found one – Clothing!

Jeans, Knickers and simply ‘Making Do and Mending’ all took centre stage at some point during the day.

First we had a Scottish premiere of Bexie Bush’s charming animation “Make do and Mend’ – animated everyday objects help illustrate audio reminiscences of a lady in her 80’s recalling how during ‘Post War Austerity’ everyone had to “Make do and Mend”. Bexie has just graduated from the prestigious National Film & Television School in Beaconsfield, London and on this evidence Bexie Bush is a name we should be hearing more of in time – its just a wonderful evocation of the era.

Next up we had a story of women fighting for their jobs against the tide of factory closures that all too readily symbolized the 80s. The Poppins Player features amongst other clips, an inspiring hour long BBC TV documentary about the Lee Jeans “sit-in”. In February 1981 240 women discovered they were to be made redundant and instead of meekly accepting their fate they decided to stand up for their livelihoods and took over their workplace. Their sit-in lasted for over 7 months but, at least in the medium term, saved their jobs. Someone visiting Poppins and seeing a clip of the programme, recognized a sister who had recently passed away and brought in others to watch it together – the clip had remained unseen for at least 10 years. One thing led to another and soon we found ourselves arranging a special screening and a Q&A session led by shop stewards’ convener Helen Monaghan (now a feisty 77 year old) and many of her sit-in colleagues

Carol Smillie joined the group, in part to celebrate the indomitable spirit of the Lee Jeans workforce, and partly to celebrate the recent launch of her own ‘Made in Scotland’ line of knickers – Diary Dolls. The Lee Jeans girls were keen to pose for the cameras and we look forward to see the next editions of the Telegraph.

Oh and of course great to see that manufacturing in Scotland is not dead and that new ventures are prospering.

Carol Smillie with a Poppins Coin, sitting next to Helen Monaghan – Greenock Telegraph came to cover the event.

Carol Smillie with a Poppins Coin, sitting next to Helen Monaghan – Greenock Telegraph came to cover the event.

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