I drove back from Bridgetown on the 201 the other day, and stopped to take a photo of what we always referred to as “Barbara’s Ball”. Clearly visible from either side of the river, it was always a sign that we were getting close to Bridgetown. (When you are a kid in a car, Annapolis Royal to Bridgetown seemed like an incredibly long drive so we were always excited to see Barbara’s Ball!).
Most of you will recognize this as the Britex ball, standing sentinel over what was the “Elastic Plant” in the early days, having opened in 1960 as a branch of United Elastic Limited. They made elastic for garments (as opposed to rubber bands). I remember school tours of the plant, and using donated elastic in our gym classes in elementary school – some kind of jumping activity that involved elastic… Much later, the company became Britex. Through the years they were always generous in donations – at the Gardens we still have reams of “Britex fabric” that we use as tablecloths and for decorating for special events.
At its peak, UEL/Britex employed hundreds but sadly modern trade and technology issues led to its demise and it closed in 2004. There are lots of great things about its history, as told in this article I found: http://www.ribbontothefuture.ca/blog/the-amazing-story-of-britex
The building is now abandoned and derelict, but Barbara’s Ball still stands sentinel, although certainly not the bright and shiny beacon it once was.
Incidentally, the name “Barbara’s Ball” is attributable to my neighbour Barbara who evidently coveted the ball enough that the rest of us began referring to it as hers… Barbara’s sister Heather Foote can fill in any blanks on that end of things! Call it what you want, it is an iconic feature in the Bridgetown area.
PS – does anyone know if the tower/ball had an actual function?