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The Sumerland textile factory opened in 1905 next to the Sacré Coeur Orphanage to provide lessons in housekeeping, sewing and knitting for the older girls in the orphanage. These skills became a means of employment for the girls when master tailor, Louis Jules Sangan, formed a commercial partnership with the orphanage, creating the Sumerland Manufacturing Company.

In 1910 when the factory opened its doors to other girls from the parish it was employing about 60 workers, many of whom were not from the orphanage. The company was particularly important during the German Occupation for the manufacture of clothing and footwear when there were terrible shortages. Their wooden clogs became known as Sumerland Clogs.

The Sangan family remained in charge of the company throughout its life, and it was a business run on traditional family lines, with long-serving members of staff looked upon as very much part of the wider family.

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