Richmond residents who share a passion for protecting local heritage were delighted to discover a piece of living history on their doorsteps.
The group, members of The Richmond Society and guests, gathered at The Poppy Factory on Thursday, May 19 to explore the new visitor centre and hear the story of the charity in its centenary year.
Many of the members had never been to the Petersham Road site before. Those who had were amazed by its transformation into a modern exhibition space and venue, alongside a working factory where Remembrance wreaths are still produced by hand.
Barry May, Chairman of The Richmond Society, said: “I remember first coming in 1962 as a reporter on the Richmond and Twickenham Times, and it felt very different then. There is so much history bound up in the place. The Poppy Factory is such an inspirational gem at the heart of Richmond, doing such fabulous work. It deserves to be better known and visited by all who live here.”
The Poppy Factory moved to Richmond in 1926 from Old Kent Road, where it had opened four years earlier. A rapidly expanding workforce of wounded and injured veterans needed bigger premises. Flats were built on site for the workers and their families and within a few years, a thriving community had been established.
Since then, The Poppy Factory has developed into a national charity. All funds raised through the visitor centre are used to help veterans with health conditions move towards all kinds of employment, across England and Wales.
The Poppy Factory offers three daily slots for group visits. It also runs regular discovery sessions for individuals and smaller groups, with the next discovery sessions on May 30 (11am and 2.30pm), Mon 13 June (3pm) Mon 27 June (3pm), Mon 25 July (2.30pm), Mon 22 Aug (3pm) and Mon 19 Sept (3pm). Book online at poppyfactory.org/visit
The visitor centre can also be hired for meetings and events, corporate days out and team-building activities. For details, contact Alice Barrett at firstname.lastname@example.org