Our new home in Rockledge has a very appropriate history. Constructed in 1927 as a small textile mill, one of many in this area. One hundred years ago the Rockledge vicinity hosted many textile mills and the related merchants. Thousands worked in the mills until the industry moved to the southern states. Our building was one of the last, still in operation until the 1980’s.
The early years
After the mill was completed, they began production. We do not have any information on what was produced. The mill was expanded adding the section to the right of chimney.
1930’s and 1940’s
The name on the mill changed to Mar-Ed in the middle 1930’s as new owners took over. They owned other mills in the area.
The mill produced women’s hosiery from silk during the 1930’s and into the war years. With their knowledge of silk, they loomed silk fabric for parachutes during World War 2. After the war, the mill converted to nylon which they purchased from Dupont. Business was very brisk, as women were able to once again buy hosiery for everyday use. For awhile, the hosiery produced here was sold under the Marionette name.
In this time period, a visitor would enter the mill through the right hand door. The office was on the right and behind the office was a bank of sewing machines. The operators (women) would sew the seam on the back of the hosiery. This was before the seamless method was perfected. On the left side of the mlll were the looms making the hosiery. In between both sides were racks storing the supplies and work in progress.
1950’s and 1960’s
New owners took over and continued the hosiery business for awhile. They transitioned into other products including lacers. Locals tell us they remember the clicking and clacking of the looms.
1970’s until the end
The final product made at the mill was shoe laces. Local residents remember knocking on the door and receiving free samples. We have some of these shoe laces in our archives. The mill shut down around 1980. The machinery was sold off and the building sat vacant for awhile.
The railroads and the textile industry were dependent on each other. The railroads delivered the construction materials for the mills and the looms. Once constructed the railroads transported the cotton, fabric, thread and other components. The mills shipped out finished goods on the railroads. Some went out in small lots via Railway Express — the UPS of the day. Larger orders could be shipped less than car load (LCL). Large orders would ship in full box car loads.
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Rockledge Model Railroad Museum and Gatsme Model Railroad Club, Inc. are both recognized by the IRS as 501(c)(3) organizations.