The database was transcribed by members of Coventry Family History Society from a number of record books in Courtaulds archives. These books contain lists of starters virtually from the start of the Courtaulds operation in Coventry in the early 1900’s until about 1932. 


In August 1904 Courtaulds completed the purchase of the British rights to manufacture textile yarn from viscose, these being Cross and Bevan’s and Steam’s patents; they also pur­chased the rights to Topham’s centrifugal spinning box. ‘After careful consideration’, they believed viscose to be ‘the best and cheapest process for the production of artificial silk for textile purposes.’

Coventry was selected as the site for the company’s new ‘artificial silk’ works. It was centrally situated and near a coal­field (i.e., while there was employment for men, there was a good deal less for women, who were abundant from the Bedworth and Nuneaton areas). A property was purchased in August, selected by Tetley and James Clayton, the company’s chief engineer, who had been with the firm since 1898. It was a works (little more than two large sheds) known as Siemen’s Timber Yard, in the Foleshill Road. Messrs. Siemen, who had gone out of business, had used the place to store wood for the wooden bicycle handles, table and chair legs which they manu­factured. It was close to a canal and a railway. No previous attempt had been made in Coventry to manufacture ‘artificial silk’, though the New Artificial Silk Spinning Company had had their factory, closed in 1900, a few miles away at Wolston.In 1907 Courtaulds employed 332 people in Coventry engaged in the production of rayon yarn.I

In 1912 the number had increased to 2,375.

In 1934 the total number of workpeople directly engaged in the production of rayon yarn had increased to 15,522.

The records span an interesting phase in the development of Courtaulds – this being the period when the production of rayon was just starting in earnest. The process was very labour intensive. The turnover of staff was very high and several people appear a number of times in the records. The database is interesting, having a high proportion of very young girls, often neglected in other reco