Today was a wonderful day to have our final excursion. We went to THE Factory in Narva. Here was one of the leading producers of textiles within the Soviet Union…at one point. However, now all that remains is a worn down, decrepit building of a once prominent force within the Estonian community. The location of this factory is especially important when looking at its surprisingly rich history. It is situated on its own 32 acre island right on the Russian-Estonian border known as Kreenholm Island.
The Kreenholm factory, now Swedish owned, was erected in the not so distant year of 1857. It functioned as a textile mill that turned cotton into yarn and cotton cloth. From the point of its construction the factory was a dominant force in Narva; by the 1910s it was employing 10,000 people, pretty important for a city with a current population of less than 90,000. The factory continued to produce textiles for the Soviet Union, even producing clothing for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. It produced textiles for the USSR until Estonia gained independence in 1991.
Estonia’s new found independence meant the factory was no longer associated with the state. A Swedish company, renamed Krenholm Group, bought the factory in 1994. The company’s business practices as well as decreasing demand for the factory’s products lead to bankruptcy in 2010. The factory is a shadow of its former self, and its workers are subject to repeated rounds of layoffs.