My recent picture recalling men’s fashions in 1970 at C&A in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, prompted a nostalgic response from Frank Lomax.
He recalls the recently-demolished Canda (C&A) garment factory at Paulsgrove, closed by the company in 1976.
Frank says: ‘For most of its last 13 years under Canda ownership it manufactured men’s clothes for ‘Man at C&A’. At the time it was one of five UK Factories (three in Portsmouth and two in Glasgow) owned by the C&A Breninkmeyer family from Mettingen in northern Germany.
‘One of these factories was on the top floor of the C&A Store in Commercial Road.’
All five factories were closed suddenly during 1976 and Frank moved away from Portsmouth to follow his career.
He adds: ‘During its Canda time, I was the menswear designer there having joined the company from school as a management trainee. I was able to develop into design through my initial training in men’s tailoring at Portsmouth College of Art under the tutelage of a Portsmouth tailor and cutter, a Mr Zeffert. and qualify at Highbury Technical College with a Mr. Barnes.
‘This practical training was complemented in-house by manufacturing training within C&A menswear factories in Holland and Germany. What you might call a series of very lucky breaks.’
While studying at Highbury, Frank won a national design competition which set him on his 46-year career in the clothes-making industry.
He adds: ‘One of the highlights during the Canda days was being asked to be involved in the Portsmouth Junior Chamber of Commerce’s Portsmouth in the Year 2000 project.
A young designer in our Paulsgrove Canda menswear team at the time, a now Jenny Brock, designed a range of futuristic clothing which she made and photographed during an exhibition at the Guildhall.
While the year 2000 has been and gone, and Portsmouth never did adopt those fashions, much of the changes to infrastructure contained in the report are here now.’