Rattan factory

  • Rattan factory
  • "The rattan industry, brought to South Reading by Cyrus Wakefield, was more than just a manufacturing operation. It is the reason Wakefield is what it is today. Founded by Mr. Wakefield in 1856, the Wakefield Rattan Company was at one time the largest employer and taxpayer in the town and was the reason why so many workers moved to South Reading. The employees of the plant were required to work a 55 hour week during the company's most productive period. This, however, was changed in 1917 to a 50 hour week, or 9 hours per day. The Wakefield Rattan Company factory was located on 11 acres on the north side of Water Street and earned a reputation for its rattan furniture, railroad car seats, trolley car and bus seats, baby carriages, cocoa mats and matting. The Wakefield Rattan Company was absorbed by the Heywood Brothers of Gardner in 1897 and subsequently became known as the Heywood-Wakefield Company. The industry remained strong until 1931 when changes in the economy and furniture styles resulted in the dismantling of the Wakefield plant and consolidation of the operation into the Gardner plant. What could have been dealt a fatal blow to the town was averted when the Heywood-Wakefield Company had the foresight to rent portions of the buildings to small companies and industries. The result was a thriving industrial establishment with several smaller and diversified industries, many of whom flourished during World War II. The industrial complex was the victim of fire, once as the Heywood-Wakefield Company in 1881, the other as the Robie Industrial Park in 1972. The industrial park now houses several businesses and is relatively small compared to the once thriving hub of the town." -- Text from calendar.
  • Image from the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department annual calendar, 1988
  • Photos courtesy of the Payro family and Louis Picardi.
  • [Wakefield, Mass.] : Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department


“Rattan factory,” Lucius Beebe Memorial Library, Wakefield, Mass., accessed May 13, 2021, https://digitalheritage.noblenet.org/wakefield/items/show/3096.



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