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Fábrica da Torre (Torre Factory) is the name by which the Pernambuco Thread and Fabric Company (Companhia Fiação e Tecidos de Pernambuco) became known. Located in Recife’s Torre neighbourhood, the factory was an important player in the industrialization process of Pernambuco that began in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Historically dominated by the sugarcane culture, from the mid-nineteenth century cotton cultivation became one of the prominent economic industries in Pernambuco. At that time, the first textile industries in the state appeared, with the oldest of them being the Torre Factory, founded in 1874, followed by Camaragibe Factory in 1892, and then Paulista and Goiás factories, founded in 1893.
The factory’s operations began in early 1875, under the name of Pernambuco Barroca Ltd (later changed to Pernambuco Thread and Fabric Company) in the suburb of Madalena. With the increase in production of fabrics and improvements in quality of material, it became necessary to expand manufacturing facilities, and, therefore, the move to Torre took place in 1884. There, the plant became one of the state’s largest textile producers in first half of the twentieth century.
The textile factory worked with everything from the treatment of natural cotton to the baling of fabrics of all varieties. The factory appeared in third place in the 1927 Statistical Yearbook of Pernambuco for its value of production in the state, behind only the Paulista Fabric Company and Societé Cotonniére Belge-Bresiliense (Belgian-Brazilian Cotton Society) in the city of Moreno.
The development of the Torre neighbourhood is undeniably linked to the dynamics of the factory, as this shaped it and provided the tools that caused this suburb to grow and develop around the initial core of the plant. The growth in the number of workers’ homes in the surrounding area was due to an initiative from the board of the Thread and Fabric Company. The board intended to increase the number of workers’ villages around the plant in order to prevent workers losing part of their day on a long journey between their home and the workplace, and also to have greater control of their own workforce.
In addition, the factory gave the Torre neighbourhood, which up until then had been sparsely populated, characteristics of a city, building and enabling the emergence of features such as trade and small industries, which made the place almost self-sufficient from the rest of the city. Furthermore, this growth and the urban dynamic in the area enabled the factory to integrate more easily into the daily life of Recife, such that its directors even founded a football club, called Torre Sport Club, which had distinguished supporters like Governor Estácio Coimbra. Founded on 13 May 1909, the “Madeira Rubra” (Red Wood), as it was called by fans, organized its own championships, with teams from Torre, and won many titles during its tenure, the most important being the Pernambuco Championships in 1926, 1929 and 1930.
From the mid-1970s, a corporate restructuring process occurred in Brazil, causing many companies to close. Large-scale dismantling of workers’ villages and manufacturing centres occurred at that time across the country, and Torre Factory did not escape this process. With the closure of operations in 1982, the manufacturing facilities were purchased by BANORTE, and from then on most of the buildings began to be vacated and demolished, leaving today few examples of a heritage built over nearly a century of industrial activity.
Recife, 11 September 2013.
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2015.
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