Using photographs, marketing materials and business records from the University of Nottingham’s lace and hosiery archive collections, this exhibition explores surviving evidence of the textile trade which was once a major feature of the East Midlands. Other collections reveal the struggle for workers’ rights, from the targeted campaign of machine breaking by the Luddites of the East Midlands (in protest at unfair pay and the introduction of ‘cut ups’ in favour of the superior fully-fashioned stockings), to the development of unions such as the Nottingham-based Amalgamated Society of Operative Lace Makers and Auxiliary Workers. The exhibition illustrates the rise and eventual decline of the trade, as it struggled to survive the ravages of war, the vagaries of fashion, and the battle to compete with cheap imports. The exhibition also reflects upon the ways in which both the legacy of the Luddites and the city’s lace heritage continue to inspire tourists, artists, and activists.
The exhibition has been curated by staff from Manuscripts and Special Collections at the University of Nottingham.