Forty years ago this week the industrial landscape of Hawick changed forever with the shock news that Pringle was closing its Rodono factory.
Workers were left stunned by the statement which was read by managing director Mr W. McEwan on the morning of Friday, October 31.
He gave assurances to the 660 workers that redundancies would be kept to a minimum and would be driven by “seasonal market variations”.
The name of Pringle was epitomised by the 170,000 square foot factory which was situated at Teviot Crescent.
Pringle was producing 27,000 units per week in 1975 and an initiative to boost production to 40,000 units weekly would, according to Mr McEwan, be achievable at one site.
In a statement, he read: “Therefore, all of our present manufacturing operations at Rodono Mill will transfer to Glebe Mill together with the necessary production and administration services.
“I realise this is a major change but I am sure we all appreciate that it is sensible to have one factory fully occupied instead of two partially utilised.”
Mr McEwan said that at present 660 people were employed at Rodono and of these, 160 were office, sales and administrative staff who would go to the Victoria Mills. The other 500 would join the 350 already employed at the Glebe. “Make no mistake,” added Mr McEwan, “in one year’s time, at the Glebe, we will have one of the best knitwear factories in Scotland.”
The first mention of Rodono in the annals of Hawick’s industrial heritage came in 1824 when the hosiery firm of Nixon and Mckie acquired property at the foot of Walter’s Wynd, formerly Ainslie’s Brewery. Robert Pringle, whose business dated back to 1815, later took on the property and after minimum expansion when the firm’s entire production was focused on underwear, the business became a private limited company in 1922 with an issued capital of £74,000 and 200 employees.
By the 1950s, the Rodono building had been greatly extended and when the firm went public in 1960 it had a share capital of £572,000. On June 23, 1967, Pringle was taken over by Joseph Dawson Holdings which paid £5.8million for the firm which, at that time, employed more than 2,000 workers.
Prior to the closure announcement, the combined workforce at Rodono and the Glebe was less than half that figure.