Thursday, 10 November 2011

Hidden London: The Poppy Factory

Amid the continuing hooha over wearing poppies you might be surprised to learn that the British Legion's annual symbol of remembrance is made in London. The Poppy Factory (pictured below) on the Thames in Richmond makes up to 45 million poppies every year and 100,000 wreaths, as well as organising the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey.

Poppies were first sold to raise money to help support ex-servicemen and women in the early 1920s and the Richmond site was established in 1925. The factory employs more than 40 disabled staff with links to the services, as well as supporting others who work from home or in other companies.

They run daily tours where you can see the work and memorabilia associated with the factory, including a 1922 letter from Major George Howson in which he describes his feelings about the project. 'I have been given a cheque for £2,000 to make poppies with. It is a large responsibility and will be very difficult... I consider the attempt ought to be made if only to give the disabled their chance.'

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