About Textile Tales

Textile Tales recognised that whilst the history of the invention of cotton spinning and the mills of the Derwent Valley is documented and well known, there is little collated about the decline of the textile industry in the East Midlands in the 1980s onwards.  In the 1980s, Marks and Spencer sourced 90% of its supplies from British Companies, by 2000 this had reduced to 40%.  As a result, companies disappeared along with the clubs and social groups that existed within and alongside these workplaces.

This project provides the opportunity to hear from people who worked in these industries in whatever role they played.  Capturing these stories will shine a light on experiences, characteristic sights, sounds, humour and anecdotes.  These will be saved and shared with generations to come.

Naturally, there are questions that arise about living and working in the textile industry through these tumultuous times.   The histories of the industry often focus on boardroom decisions and management strategies, so that the voices of workers who experienced the consequences of these decisions remain largely hidden.  Although they were not in control, they experienced both changes in working practices and the consequences of management decisions at first hand.  It remains difficult to capture the voice of any workforce.  Theirs are accounts not usually recorded, and seldom set down on paper. Newspaper articles and trade union records can shed some light, but they seldom convey the experience of daily working life in the round.  How did the workers receive their news about the company? Was there a staff newsletter?  Were they consulted or did they feel ignored? And what about the social part of work? Did they have a company sports team or a social club? Where did they go for a drink after work?   Just a few of the questions that the Textile Tales project would like to ask of its participants in this unique opportunity to hear the answers from those who were actually there.

The Textile Tales project builds on the previous work of lots of more tightly focussed projects. Knitting Together, a largely Leicester-focused project from 2001, Made in Mansfield/Mills, Machines and Memories, Mansfield Museum’s 2017 project to learn more about the town’s textile industry, Nottingham Museums’ Lace Unravelled and NTUs Nottingham Lace: Capturing and Representing Knowledge in people, Machines, and Documents, both of which focused specifically on the lace trade, are just four of these projects. What they all showed is that there is clear demand among former textile workers to engage with their heritage, to make contact with other workers, pass on their knowledge and share their stories. Therefore, Textile Tales aims to build on projects like these, filling in the gaps, adding to the information and joining it up to see the ‘big picture’ of textile heritage in the region. People had huge pleasure in recollection, pride in their achievements and wanted to see more recognition of the industry.

The Textile Tales project was created through a successful Heritage Lottery Funding bid from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and a donation from the Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters.
This project created a working network and partnership of museums, universities, businesses and East Midlands History & Heritage, bringing together key expertise and knowledge in this field of research.

Textile Tales Project Sponsors

Heritage Fund logo

Our Team

The Textile Tales Team have a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the textile industry

Professor Amanda Briggs-Goode is Head of Department for Fashion, Textiles and Knitwear Design at Nottingham Trent University.  She published the key text book Printed Textile Design with Laurence King Publishers.  Amanda, for the last 10 years has worked with the lace archive which is held within the school and she leads the lace heritage research group.  She co-organised a season of Nottingham wide events called Lace: Here: Now in 2013 which included exhibitions, film showings, lace making and lectures across the main cultural venues in Nottingham.  In 2018, she curated an exhibition “Lace Unarchived” which includes work from the NTU archive and from designers, artists and manufacturers of Nottingham Lace.

Dr Tom Fisher’s abiding interest in the history of technology is built on his background in art history and design practice.  He has run several projects about textiles with Amanda Briggs-Goode that build on the Nottingham Trent University lace archive which have brought together acamedics and museum experts to look at the textile heritage of the East Midlands.  Most recently, he has developed the Textile Tales projects funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to collect oral histories from textile workers.

Tonya is the Research Fellow for the Textile Tales project.  She brings a wealth of experience in her work as the Project Officer for the Lace Unravelled Project at Nottingham Museums, focusing on the textile industry’s hidden history and family generational links through interviews with workers.

Liz has in interest in oral histories as she is currently studying for a MA in Museum and Heritage Development at Nottingham Trent University.

Liz Warren

Research Assistant

Tonya Outtram

Research Fellow

Dr Tom Fisher

Dr Tom Fisher

Professor Amanda Briggs-Goode

Professor Amanda Briggs-Goode

Who we are

We are Nottingham Trent University of 50 Shakespeare Street, Nottingham, NG1 4FQ, along with our Project Partners.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund

The Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters

Further information about how the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters hold and manage personal data can be found on their website – links above.

For the purposes of the General Data Protection Regulation, NTU is the Data Controller in respect of personal information processed as a result of participation in the project.

If you have any questions about the use of your personal information, or wish to exercise your rights, please contact:

Tonya Outtram – Research Fellow, Nottingham Trent University

Email: textiletales@ntu.ac.uk



Textile Tales privacy and cookie policy

Your privacy and protection of your personal information is very important to us and we are committed to robust compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 and the Data Protection Act 2018.

Textile Tales  has a privacy notice that explains what we do with your personal information, your rights and how we protect it. This notice is for all individuals involved in the Textile Tales Project for which Nottingham Trent University is the lead partner.