On 19 May 1978, the TV presenter Anthony H. Wilson started The Factory, a series of club nights at the PSV/The Russel Club in Hulme, Manchester. Among the bands billed for the 4 opening nights were The Durutti Column, Cabaret Voltaire, and Joy Division. The poster for the evenings was designed by Peter Saville (2), who soon became a partner of Wilson and Alan Erasmus. In October 1979, producer Martin Hannett joined as a director too, followed in 1980 by Rob Gretton (manager of Joy Division & New Order) as fifth partner.
The club night was a success and led to the release of the double 7" EP "A Factory Sample" in January 1979. This EP marked the beginnings of Factory as a record label and featured bands that played at The Factory. When Wilson told Saville that their EP would be FAC 1, Saville replied that his first poster for the club was FAC 1 and the EP would be FAC 2.
Factory set up its first headquarters in Erasmus' flat on 86 Palatine Road, Didsbury, Manchester, where it resided until 1990 (a blue BBC plaque was erected there in June 2017). It then moved to 1 Charles Street, Manchester and was allocated cat# FAC 251.
Factory Communications Ltd. (FCL) was officially established on October, 24 1980.
In October 1989, Factory launched the Classical label to, according to Wilson "wrest the reins of classical music away from middle-class wankers in dinner suits". Among the first acts are Kreisler String Orchestra and Steve Martland.
In September 1991, news leaked out that Factory was near to bankruptcy and some record companies, including Mute, London Records, and Warner Bros. Records, made bids on the label. The label was not sold though, and claimed it had sorted out its finances. This proved not to be the case, and on "Black Monday", 23 November 1992, Factory Records went into receivership with a £2.5 million debt. A last minute saving arrangement with London Records collapsed when it became clear that, thanks to their no-contract deal, New Order -and not Factory- owned the rights to their material.
Factory constructed its own history by cataloging not only records, cassettes and videos, but also important events, posters, badges, TV programs, concerts, T-shirts, buildings, stationery, advertising campaigns etc. (see below).
Factory pioneered indie label principles such as the 50/50 profit share, and most of their record deals (until the later years of the label) were done with a handshake and not a contract.
After the bankruptcy, Wilson would occasionally allocate FAC numbers for special Factory-related projects and events.
In 1994 Wilson launched a new label, Factory Too, with some releases coming out in conjunction with London Records. He also released a series of anthologies and re-releases from the Factory back-catalogue via London under the name Factory Once. He then started the label Factory Records Limited, this time without a cooperation with London Records. All imprints quietly disappeared around 1998. This was followed by a short-lived digital download project called "music33.com". In December 2004, Wilson announced that he was launching the "fourth iteration of the Factory imprint", F4 Records, again failing to amount to much.
Many titles from the original Factory catalogue have been reissued by the LTM (4) label. In an attempt to preserve the Factory brand and name, LTM owner James Nice, together with Alan Erasmus, Peter Saville and Tony Wilson's son Oliver, set up Factory Records Ltd. in June 2010. However, the idea was never seriously pursued and given up after one release only. Since March 2013, Factory Records Ltd. is owned by Saville alone.
A dramatised history of Factory Records is portrayed in the movie "24 Hour Party People" (2002, FAC 451).
Martin Hannett died, aged 42, on 18 April 1991, as a result of heart failure.
Robert L. Gretton died, aged 46, on 15 May 1999 of a heart attack.
Anthony H. Wilson died, aged 57, on 10 August 2007, of a heart attack, already suffering from renal cancer. He was buried in Southern Cemetery, Manchester. His coffin was numbered FAC 501.
Note: The label has been known on releases under slightly differing names: starting as "Factory", then "Factory Records" and later back to just "Factory" again.
Non musical items with catalogue numbers:
FAC 1: Poster "Use Hearing Protection / The Factory"
FAC 3: Poster "The Factory October 20th"
FAC 4: Poster "The Factory December"
FAC 7: Stationary
FAC 8: "Menstrual Eggtimer" (by Linder Sterling); unrealised concept except a napkin drawing
FAC 9: "The Factory Flick"; 8mm film shown at Scala Cinema, London on 13/09/79
FAC 15: "Zoo Meets Factory Half-Way"; Leigh Festival from 25 to 27/08/79 (Leigh being midpoint between Zoo's home Liverpool and Manchester). Also Saville designed poster
FAC 21: Badges: maroon and black, with Fractured Music 𝑓 logo
FAC 26: Poster: "La nouvelle musique anglais", designed by Steve Horsfall for a (cancelled) concert in Paris
FAC 27: Alternative sleeve design for FAC 17 (unused)
FAC 36: Closer advertising in USA (2 ads in Rolling Stone magazine, June and July 1981)
FAC 38: "Below The Canal"; unreleased A Certain Ratio video project
FAC 46: "A Video Circus"; event and Saville designed poster
FAC 47: The Factory Communications Limited logo (callipers, gear wheel, anvil, first used on FACT 45)
FAC 51: The Hacienda, Whitworth Street West. Various merchandise articles also carry that number. Opened May 1982, closed in 2000, demolished 2001 and converted into appartments
FAC 61: The Factory vs. Martin Hannett lawsuit
FAC 76: The Jazz Defektors Movie (unreleased video project)
FAC 81: The "Factory International Congress", held in September 1983, also notepads
FAC 83: Hacienda 1st birthday party and poster
FAC 91: Facsoft Computer programme (unreleased)
FAC 94: Badges: red and black, with F Dot logo
FAC 98: Swing hairdressers (in basement of the Hacienda)
FAC 99: Molar reconstruction of Rob Gretton
FAC 101: Factory Lofts (unrealised)
FAC 104: "Madonna Inter Alia"; The Tube broadcasts from the Hacienda
FAC 109: Caroline Lavelle (untitled and undone)
FAC 115: Second generation notepaper
FAC 120: Badges: crimson and black, with Factory silhouette
FAC 121: "From Factory - A Series Of London Premieres"; Factory Week 13 to 18/08/84 at Riverside Studios Hammersmith (concerts, videos, Saville design and Swing hairdressers)
FAC 126: Event + poster: Alan (Erasmus) Goes To Moscow
FAC 131: Poster: "It isn't only lowlife who record for Factory"
FAC 136: Factory gaffer tape
FAC 141: Stationary with Factory silhouette logo
FAC 145: Christmas 1985 card
FAC 148: Styal Mill water bucket
FAC 149: Little Big Band (aborted project)
FAC 151: Festival Of The Tenth Summer (also book, cards, badges, poster, flyer, installations, t-shirts)
FAC 152: T-shirt "From Manchester With Love"
FAC 159: "Fac Facts"; bi-monthly news bulletin with short band bio's and discographies
FAC 161: Deal with London based "Out Promotion" of Nicki Kefalas to promote Factory releases
FAC 171: "Compact": US release of FACT 50 celebration with video/sculpture at White Columns Art Gallery on 30/09/86. Also poster and invitation card with number.
FAC 173: Robert Longo video shoot of New Order's Bizarre Love Triangle
FAC 174: Valuable Press Pack for FACT 164 and Durutti Column's US tour.
FAC 175: Christmas 1986 card
FAC 181: "Mad Fuckers"; aborted Bailey Brothers movie project
FAC 186: Festival Of The Tenth Summer (unrealised album and video concept)
FAC 191: The Hacienda cat
FAC 199: "Bums For BPI"; promo poster for FAC 198 as tactical campaign against the BPI
FAC 201: Dry Bar, 28-30 Oldham Street. Also various merchandising articles carrying that number
FAC 202: "Dream Flight Balloons"; 1987 British Airways charity event at Hyde Park
FAC 203: "12 Inches Of New Order" ruler
FAC 208: "Disorder"; party in the Hacienda basement after a New Order and Happy Mondays gig at the G-Mex on 17/12/88. Also referred to NO/HM party in Real World Studios, Bath
FAC 209: FAC 212 film shoot
FAC 211: "Wired": 18 minute Channel 4 documentary about FACT 250 release on 01/07/88. Also unrealised concept "Book Of Numbers"
FAC 215: Vin d'Usine blanc - Hacienda house wine with labels designed by Peter Saville
FAC 216: Vin d'Usine rouge - Hacienda house wine with labels designed by Peter Saville
FAC 221: Factory contract binder - 12"x12" plates of perspex and 4 metal bolts to hold the contracts, designed by 8vo
FAC 221: Badge: "Factory Goes To Hollywood" black with Factory US logo
FAC 227: Fred Fac - 4-part catalogue in NME by Fred Dellar
FAC 229: Music Week Factorial - 24 page book in Music Week magazine, 15/07/89, celebrating 10 years of Factory
FAC 231: "Yo John!" ad inside 'Music Week' magazine for John Peel's 50th birthday
FAC 233: Joy Division/ New Order accounts
FAC 235: Robert Breer's Blue Monday flickbook; Christmas 1988
FAC 237: "Here Are The Old Men"; unrealised New Order video project
FAC 238: "Citius, Altius, Fortius"; Hacienda t-shirt to celebrate Manchester's bid for the 1996 Olympics
FAC 239: "Halcyon Daze"; Happy Mondays fanzines
FAC 240: The Factory wallplanner
FAC 241: T-shirt: "Just Say No To London
FAC 243: Steve Mason's Technique cherub
FAC 245: "Pictures From Madchester"; Christmas 1989
FAC 248: "On DAT already, On CD at last"; full page ads in 'NME' and 'Music Week' for FACD 40, 170 and DAT back catalogue
FAC 251: New Factory HQ, Princess St / Charles Street. Acquired 10/88, opened 29/09/90, closed 11/92. Also various items and events. Re-opened 2010 as club/live venue by Peter Hook
FAC 253: Bet between Tony Wilson and Rob Gretton on Technique going into the Top 5 or Wilson resigns. Neither happened.
FACT 254: "Guitar One:House"; unrealised Durutti Column album
FAC 258: T-shirt: "Fac Off"
FAC 259: 1990 Christmas party for Factory, Hacienda and Dry staff
FAC 261: T-shirt: "Madchester"
FACT 264: "Guitar Two:Acoustic"; unrealised Durutti Column album
FAC 265: "From Manchester With Love"; heart shaped image with Stars and Stripes used on info sheets, shirts and banners during the New Music Seminar, July 1990. Also used for the Hacienda's trans-American tour 'The United States Of The Hacienda', June-July, 1990.
FACT 270: "Our Dance Days"; unrealised album concept
FAC 271: New Order Technique (FACT 275) billboards and TV ads
FAC 277: Joy Division Substance (FACT 250) video; unreleased
FAC 281: "Prenez Votre Desirs"; Factory memorabilia store at Affleck's Palace, Oldham St.
FAC 282: Flowers for Horse's (of Happy Mondays) wedding
FAC 283: T-shirt: "EnglandNewOrder, Express Yourself"
FAC 286: Classical Showcase; launch of FACT 316 to 356 at London's Bloomsbury Theatre (29-31/10/90).
FAC 288: T-shirt: "Call The Cops"; also referred to as "Shaun on One"
FAC 291: Factory Classical notepaper
FAC 292: Shaun Ryder "Colours" (unrealised single concept)
FAC 294: Durutti Column Jazz FM radio advert
FAC 295: Christmas 1990: photo-print of new Factory HQ
FAC 299: T-shirt: "Factory" logo type
FAC 301: "Think About The Future"; conference at Sheffield, July 1990, also notepads and serviettes
FAC 309: T-shirt: "Hi Nek" (unrealised)
FAC 311: Fourth generation notepaper
FAC 315: Cath Carroll - England Made Me (FACT 210) promo package
FAC 317: Cath Carroll - England Made Me (FACT 210) badge
FAC 318: "Flying Start"; Factory artwork exhibition stand. Number also applied to classical event at Manchester
FAC 321: Jonathan Demme's The Perfect Kiss video shoot
FAC 331: "The Temporary Contemporary"; Andy Woodcock designed Factory boardroom table - broken by Happy Mondays
FAC 339: MTV 120 Minutes feature on Factory (January 1992)
FAC 342: Happy Mondays - Pills 'N' Thrills And Bellyaches album launch: meal organized by Factory/London at London Zoo Aquarium
FAC 345: "Love and Peace/1991-1992"; wrap-around sleeve for the booklet included with the Palatine boxed set
FAC 351: Book: Jon Savage - The Hacienda Must be Built!
FAC 352: Happy Mondays - Staying Alive; unreleased single concept
FAC 354: Palatine celebrations
FAC 383: The Vikings; New Order fan collective
FAC 413: 'Jack' magazine issues January and Februray 2003 with specials on Factory
FAC 421: Factory website
FAC 424: Book: Anthony H. Wilson - 24 Hour Party People; also movie DVD
FAC 433: 24 Hour Party People movie website
FAC 441: World In Motion website
FAC 451: Number shared between Love Will Tear Us Apart Hacienda video documentary and 24 Hour Party People Hacienda reconstruction and party
FAC 461: Book: Matthew Robertson "Factory Records - The Complete Graphic Album"
FAC 471: Hallelujah, Hot, and New Year parties
FAC 473: 10-foot free-standing fiberglass Gibson Les Paul with colour code along guitar neck, signed by New Order
FAC 481: 'Building' magazine issue January 2006, with Wilson feature
FAC 491: The Hacienda 25th anniversary exhibition at Urbis (2007)
FAC 501: Anthony Wilson's coffin
FAC 511: "And You Forgotten"; Rob Gretton Special; event, booklet, posters