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Textiles on Film

From cotton reels to reels of film: with its restless looms, vibrant colours and rich textures, Britain's textiles industry offers cinematic pleasures by the yard.

Much of Britain's history is woven around textiles. Wool production drove UK trade from the middle ages, while it was British textiles that kickstarted the industrial revolution, with great cotton and silk mills dominating the Lancashire landscape.

Well into the 20th century Britain's textile industry was a world giant, though competition, changing technologies and new synthetic fabrics all left their mark. This collection of films, spanning almost a century, charts those changes and explores the endlessly versatile uses of textiles, offering potent history, visual splendour, glamour and, yes, just a hint of kitsch.

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Textiles on Film

RECOMMENDED

View Caefelin Laundry, Llangollen
Caefelin Laundry, Llangollen
Watch for free 19 mins

Caefelin Laundry, Llangollen 1937

Nellie Boote’s laundry in Market Street in operation, the women dashing away with all manner of smoothing irons as clothes are sorted, mended, washed, ironed and sorted again.

19 mins Wales

View For Sheer Perfection
For Sheer Perfection
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For Sheer Perfection 1965

A mile of yarn and a million loops to make one stocking: the culmination of a four hundred year old craft.

24 mins United Kingdom Director. F.B. Nicol

View Paper Fashion
Paper Fashion
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Paper Fashion 1967

Fashion doesn’t grow on trees…or does it! Tyne Tees TV was bang on-trend with this brilliant news feature on the hip 1960s cult for a disposable age - paper fashion.

5 mins England

View Fancy Yarn Production
Fancy Yarn Production
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Fancy Yarn Production 1971

Twisted yarns and empty spindles, everything from Bouclé to Slub yarn, from beginning to end, and all, in the end, displayed on a ‘normal’ model in typical 1970s fashion.

23 mins United Kingdom

View Messrs. Barlow and Jones Ltd., Manchester and Bolton
Messrs. Barlow and Jones Ltd., Manchester and Bolton
Watch for free 18 mins

Messrs. Barlow and Jones Ltd., Manchester and Bolton 1919

From raw resource to finished product, by cleaning and spinning, weaving and bleaching - take a look at the textile industry from the inside.

18 mins United Kingdom

View Winter Fashions in Exmouth
Winter Fashions in Exmouth
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Winter Fashions in Exmouth 1977

A striking fashion statement from a time when wearing fur was beginning to get hairy.

1 mins United Kingdom

BROWSE THE COLLECTION

View Platt Bros and Co. Ltd - Textile Machinists
Platt Bros and Co. Ltd - Textile Machinists
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Platt Bros and Co. Ltd - Textile Machinists 1925

The manufacture of textile machinery in Oldham - men make the machines that produce the cloth.

20 mins United Kingdom

View Lancashire Hotpot
Lancashire Hotpot
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Lancashire Hotpot 1949

WWII offered new career opportunities for women, but not all men were happy about it…

10 mins United Kingdom

View Focus on Knitwear
Focus on Knitwear
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Focus on Knitwear 1966

From socks and vests to fancy knitted sportswear, Meridian Ltd aim to clothe the nation from the region where the industry was born.

21 mins United Kingdom

View Antique Lace Machines
Antique Lace Machines
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Antique Lace Machines 1976

The dawn of the Industrial Revolution lives on in Nottinghamshire. Ancient hand knitting machines produce lace work that cannot be matched by twentieth century automation.

4 mins United Kingdom

View Durham Carpets
Durham Carpets
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Durham Carpets 1978

The warp, the weft, and a good old yarn! Hugh Mackay’s display an explosion of colourful 1970s carpet designs in Durham.

24 mins United Kingdom

View So It All Comes out Super in the Wash
So It All Comes out Super in the Wash
Watch for free 17 mins

So It All Comes out Super in the Wash 1972

Are you being served? A bewildered shop girl gets a boutique introduction to an innovative fabric.

17 mins United Kingdom Director. Jeff Inman

View From Wool to Wearer
From Wool to Wearer
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From Wool to Wearer 1913

"The romance of Pesco underwear," as produced by Peter Scott Knitwear (aka Pesco), in Hawick.

18 mins United Kingdom

View Back to Back
Back to Back
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Back to Back 1961

Have you ever wondered how dad's distinctive cardigan was made? This colourful industrial film shows how the Co-op's Nelson Mills in Staffordshire does it.

18 mins United Kingdom

View The George Saxon Engine, Magnet Mill
The George Saxon Engine, Magnet Mill
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The George Saxon Engine, Magnet Mill 1969

See how steam powered the textile industry of Lancashire.

8 mins United Kingdom Director. Walter Storey

View Warp and Woof
Warp and Woof
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Warp and Woof 1975

The industrial Midlands pioneered textile production; from the framework knitters of Nottinghamshire to the birth of the modern factory in the Derwent valley in Derbyshire.

26 mins United Kingdom

View Knitwear Workers Protest March
Knitwear Workers Protest March
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Knitwear Workers Protest March 1981

This 'Buy British' clothing campaign is more than patriotism, it's the last line of defence for an industry facing extinction.

2 mins United Kingdom

View London Line No. 373
London Line No. 373
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London Line No. 373 1971

A Ghanaian fashion student and a Nigerian squash player are among the Africans making a life in 70s Britain in this edition of the magazine show.

6 mins United Kingdom

View All about Witney Blankets
All about Witney Blankets
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All about Witney Blankets 1919

Blanket coverage in this promotional film for Witney's celebrated woollen ware.

8 mins United Kingdom

View Here We Come to Learn a Trade
Here We Come to Learn a Trade
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Here We Come to Learn a Trade 1958

Slow fashion offers career opportunities for the youth of Yorkshire

23 mins United Kingdom Director. Frank Hill

View Cotton Spinning at Osborne Mill, Oldham
Cotton Spinning at Osborne Mill, Oldham
Watch for free 12 mins

Cotton Spinning at Osborne Mill, Oldham 1971

A close look at the spinning mule - a vital cog in the workings of the Lancashire cotton industry.

12 mins United Kingdom

View Masculinity in Modes
Masculinity in Modes
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Masculinity in Modes 1931

Women wear the trousers: sample the latest Parisian couture with this pretty stencil-coloured piece from Eve's Film Review.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Air to Wear
Air to Wear
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Air to Wear 1957

As full of holes as his Aertex shirt, Uncle Jeff’s tall tales are captured in crayon in this animated cinema ad

3 mins United Kingdom

View Silver Joy Nylons
Silver Joy Nylons
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Silver Joy Nylons 1954

With nails filed smooth to avoid snagging, the expert staff of this Derbyshire nylons firm are even ready to tackle the mystery of the seamed seamless stocking.

32 mins United Kingdom

View Bathing Fashion
Bathing Fashion
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Bathing Fashion 1922

Wonderful film of seven women parading the latest in 1920s beachwear, including a stylish hat that can be worn while diving, at Chiswick outdoor pool.

United Kingdom

View Models Showcase the Latest Fashion in Truro
Models Showcase the Latest Fashion in Truro
Watch for free 5 mins

Models Showcase the Latest Fashion in Truro 1970

Truro treated to models displaying the fashion of the age and a fashionista discusses the latest 1970s trends.

5 mins United Kingdom

View Tie and Dye
Tie and Dye
Watch for free 4 mins

Tie and Dye 1970

A snazzy intro to the ancient textile-dyeing technique taking the 70s fashion world by storm.

4 mins United Kingdom Director. Mark Lawton

View London Line Colour Series 1 Issue 1
London Line Colour Series 1 Issue 1
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London Line Colour Series 1 Issue 1 1966

Swinging 60s meets capital of cool in a fun and funky TV magazine show aimed at Canadian audiences.

14 mins United Kingdom

View Cotton Come Back
Cotton Come Back
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Cotton Come Back 1946

A passionate post-war plea for workers to return to the cotton industry after decades of decline, framed as an argument between father and daughters.

26 mins United Kingdom Director. Donald Alexander

View The Princess and the Wonderful Weaver
The Princess and the Wonderful Weaver
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The Princess and the Wonderful Weaver 1968

It’s the 60s – what better way to sell wool than animating a spurious fable about a mile-high naked princess?

12 mins United Kingdom Director. Richard Taylor

View Underwear and Hosiery
Underwear and Hosiery
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Underwear and Hosiery 1924

A thoroughly engrossing 1920s guide to the making of woollen undies – and a tongue-in-cheek demo of why pre-shrunk are best.

10 mins United Kingdom Director. Percy Nash

View Everything but Everything in Bri-nylon
Everything but Everything in Bri-nylon
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Everything but Everything in Bri-nylon 1959

50s fashion meets carpet kitsch in a futuristic fantasy of domestic bliss - courtesy of versatile, magical Bri-Nylon.

22 mins United Kingdom Director. Sam Napier-bell

View Workers at Spring Bank Mill, Nelson
Workers at Spring Bank Mill, Nelson
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Workers at Spring Bank Mill, Nelson 1900

Lively Lancashire millworkers, including young boys and girls, at the mill gates.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Macclesfield Hails Britain's Silk Queen
Macclesfield Hails Britain's Silk Queen
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Macclesfield Hails Britain's Silk Queen 1933

The annual ceremony around the coronation of Macclesfield's silk queen will worm its way into your heart.

6 mins United Kingdom

View Views Past and Present at Spring Grove Mills
Views Past and Present at Spring Grove Mills
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Views Past and Present at Spring Grove Mills 1933

A fascinating journey around the entire process of a typical 1930s textile mill, with young women workers, all sporting the same hairstyles, labouring at hypnotic machines.

26 mins United Kingdom

View Cressbrook: A Derbyshire Mill
Cressbrook: A Derbyshire Mill
Watch for free 16 mins

Cressbrook: A Derbyshire Mill 1972

With a leaking roof and flaking brickwork Cressbrook's 18th century textile mill is crumbling into the Derbyshire countryside.

16 mins United Kingdom

View London Line No. 113
London Line No. 113
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London Line No. 113 1966

Chic rainwear for every occasion kicks off this hip magazine show, which also looks at concrete in Africa and gbedu drum music

5 mins United Kingdom

View Made in Wales
Made in Wales
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Made in Wales 1970

From a farm near the Conway river to a nearby woollen mill, see how wool gets from the sheep to the shelves.

7 mins Wales

View Last Time
Last Time
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Last Time 1982

The end of an era for a piece of Lancashire's steam-powered industrial heritage.

6 mins United Kingdom

View Kidderminster Story
Kidderminster Story
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Kidderminster Story 1963

Can't tell a Wilton from an Axminster? Baffled by your shags, yarns and hanks? Help is at hand with this in-depth guide to Kidderminster's carpet industry.

25 mins United Kingdom

View Fabrics of the Future
Fabrics of the Future
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Fabrics of the Future 1946

The challenges posed by the emergence of synthetic fibres for Britain's traditional textile industry.

20 mins United Kingdom

View Baxholme: A Tour of their Nottingham Factories
Baxholme: A Tour of their Nottingham Factories
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Baxholme: A Tour of their Nottingham Factories 1955

Jacquards, bobbins, warp and looms: Holmes and Baxter Limited of Nottingham demonstrate the intricate art of the lace factory.

18 mins United Kingdom

View Albert's Last Skep
Albert's Last Skep
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Albert's Last Skep 1978

For the very last time Albert, at 73, makes the work of weaving the large willow bobbin baskets, skeps, look easy, having devoted his entire working life to perfecting his art.

28 mins United Kingdom

View Carnival in the Clothes Cupboard
Carnival in the Clothes Cupboard
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Carnival in the Clothes Cupboard 1941

A cartoon fantasy brings fabric patterns to life in a literal soap opera - yet even here the reality of Home Front life creeps in

6 mins United Kingdom Director. Joy Batchelor, John Halas

View Daybrook is the Name
Daybrook is the Name
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Daybrook is the Name 1962

Daybrook Laundry in Nottingham has turned a dull job into an art-form of washing, pressing, folding and sorting. Who needs one of those new fangled home washing machines anyway?

13 mins United Kingdom

View Joe Kagan: Just Another Bump in the Road
Joe Kagan:  Just Another Bump in the Road
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Joe Kagan: Just Another Bump in the Road 1980

An intriguing insight into the extraordinary life of Lord Kagan, Jewish escapee from the Nazis, clothier to the Royals, and close friend of Harold Wilson and KGB spy Vaygauskas.

37 mins United Kingdom

View Workers at India Mills, Stockport
Workers at India Mills, Stockport
Watch for free 1 mins

Workers at India Mills, Stockport 1900

Spinners and weavers jostle through the exit of one of Stockport’s largest textile mills.

1 mins United Kingdom

View From Bale to Finished Cloth
From Bale to Finished Cloth
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From Bale to Finished Cloth 1950

The process of cloth production in Bury - from delivery to dispatch.

33 mins United Kingdom

View Sheep Shearing – Llanrwst Show
Sheep Shearing – Llanrwst Show
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Sheep Shearing – Llanrwst Show 1969

Llanrwst show is full of wool related activities that include shearing, spinning and a fashion show where the garments are all made of wool.

7 mins Wales

View Her Dress Allowance
Her Dress Allowance
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Her Dress Allowance 1930

Let me tell you a secret - how a friend's advice on shopping wisely restores harmony in the family home.

7 mins United Kingdom

View The January Sales
The January Sales
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The January Sales 1977

Hordes of eagle-eyed bargain hunters descend on Devon's department stores for the January sales

United Kingdom

View New Plant
New Plant
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New Plant 1950

A bright future seems to be looming as the mule spun woollen yarns are warped and wefted on the shuttle, while the women mill workers scuttle between machines with baskets of cones.

30 mins United Kingdom

View See You Tomorrow
See You Tomorrow
Watch for free 17 mins

See You Tomorrow 1965

The lesson here is clear, do the right things in the workplace – wear totectors and Rozalex barrier cream – and all will be well, and if not there is a nurse on hand with a plaster.

17 mins United Kingdom

View Co-op Fashion Highlights
Co-op Fashion Highlights
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Co-op Fashion Highlights 1970

A fun Co-op fashion parade welcomes in the bad taste 70s.

7 mins United Kingdom

View Thinking of Textiles
Thinking of Textiles
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Thinking of Textiles 1978

Students at Leeds are taken from the wool on the back of sheep on the Yorkshire moors to pyjamas in Marks and Spencer’s, learning everything that happens in between.

25 mins United Kingdom

View Silk
Silk
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Silk 1940

Silk production in Cheshire, using time-tested methods to produce a perfect product.

18 mins United Kingdom Director. Brendan J. Stafford

View It All Began with Velvet
It All Began with Velvet
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It All Began with Velvet 1955

Fabrics galore burst into a Britain just recovering from war rationing, with mohair velvets, moth protected carpets and waterproofed textiles adorning London Routemasters.

30 mins United Kingdom

View Cotton Blossoms
Cotton Blossoms
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Cotton Blossoms 1943

"From flower to fabric" - the story of the Lancashire cotton industry.

78 mins United Kingdom

View Cotton Counts
Cotton Counts
Watch for free 18 mins

Cotton Counts 1951

"Never let it be forgotten - what the country owes to cotton!" How a quality product and a happy workforce can enhance national wellbeing.

18 mins United Kingdom

View Plymouth's Berkertex Textile Factory
Plymouth's Berkertex Textile Factory
Watch for free 8 mins

Plymouth's Berkertex Textile Factory 1970

Fashion design from sketchbook to shop floor, explained through a visit to the Berkertex factory in Plymouth

8 mins United Kingdom

View Axminister Carpets
Axminister Carpets
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Axminister Carpets 1967

Axminster Carpets by appointment

6 mins United Kingdom

View Woven by Hand
Woven by Hand
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Woven by Hand 1970

Handloom weaving, and its place in the history of textile production.

11 mins United Kingdom Director. Colin Robinson

View From Back to Back
From Back to Back
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From Back to Back 1923

From woolly sheep to satisfied customer - come and see how to produce a Co-operative coat.

36 mins United Kingdom

View Any Questions on Cotton
Any Questions on Cotton
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Any Questions on Cotton 1955

A piece of advice - happy housewives and homemakers buy British cotton.

26 mins United Kingdom Director. Denis Ward

View Costume and Design
Costume and Design
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Costume and Design 1966

Fashion through the ages

4 mins United Kingdom

View Introducing William Pickles Group
Introducing William Pickles Group
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Introducing William Pickles Group 1953

"Washes like linen, wears like hide". What is it? Linenide, of course. Find out more here.

5 mins United Kingdom

View Dulverton Textiles
Dulverton Textiles
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Dulverton Textiles 1975

Dulverton textiles in tatters

5 mins United Kingdom

View Wheel of Fortune
Wheel of Fortune
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Wheel of Fortune 1961

As the water wheel turns, mill workers produce woollen cloth in the traditional, time-honoured way.

10 mins United Kingdom

View Lancashire Pride
Lancashire Pride
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Lancashire Pride 1950

The looms of Lancashire: how the upheaval of the Industrial Revolution created the thriving textile industry.

57 mins United Kingdom

View Electricity - Power for Good
Electricity - Power for Good
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Electricity - Power for Good 1961

The NEEB sells an electrical future for modern homes and industries in the 1960s.

34 mins England

View Miniskirts
Miniskirts
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Miniskirts 1966

Miniskirt - Passion and Power

3 mins United Kingdom

View Platt's Lap Converter
Platt's Lap Converter
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Platt's Lap Converter 1951

Forget the carding machine - you need a lap convertor. Puzzled? Find out more here.

13 mins United Kingdom

View Fibre to Fabric
Fibre to Fabric
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Fibre to Fabric 1948

Turning raw cotton into curtains, clothing and handkerchiefs - take a look at how this happens.

11 mins United Kingdom

View Waterfall Mill, Blackburn
Waterfall Mill, Blackburn
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Waterfall Mill, Blackburn 1950

Mill workers and machines - a detailed look at the Lancashire textile industry.

12 mins United Kingdom

View Mave Spencer's Vintage Clothing
Mave Spencer's Vintage Clothing
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Mave Spencer's Vintage Clothing 1977

Authentic retro looks from past decades on display in quaint Cornwall

6 mins United Kingdom

View Colour in Silk
Colour in Silk
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Colour in Silk 1954

Come to Cheshire to visit "the most famous silk firm in the greatest silk town in both hemispheres".

13 mins United Kingdom

View Ulster To-day
Ulster To-day
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Ulster To-day 1967

From ancient crafts to state of the art computer production discover how "Ulster is not just yesterday, it is also tomorrow". Forget hindsight and enjoy this industrial dream.

18 mins Northern Ireland

View As Dreams Are Made Of...
As Dreams Are Made Of...
Watch for free 12 mins

As Dreams Are Made Of... 1965

Sophisticated, smart and surreal, this Courtaulds’ fashion show ventures well beyond the confines of the catwalk.

12 mins United Kingdom

View Make-do-and-mend
Make-do-and-mend
Watch for free 1 mins

Make-do-and-mend 1945

A wartime family look on in amazement as their old clothes offer useful advice on how to make their clothing coupons go further.

1 mins United Kingdom

View The Hainsworth Collection
The Hainsworth Collection
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The Hainsworth Collection 1953

The extended family of an affluent woollen manufacturer from Yorkshire enjoy their pastimes, at home and at the seaside, while those who work in the mills enjoy a coach trip out.

16 mins United Kingdom

View City of Women
City of Women
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City of Women 1987

"Fit for an Earl is the graceful Nottingham girl." But will they grace the city's textiles factories for much longer and what future is there for the city built on the work of women?

24 mins United Kingdom Director. Stephen Engelhard

View Hints and Hobbies No.10
Hints and Hobbies No.10
Watch for free 14 mins

Hints and Hobbies No.10 1926

Fashion tips for skinflint flappers and other invaluable stratagems, brought to you by 1920s cinemagazine Hints and Hobbies.

14 mins United Kingdom

View Hints and Hobbies No.12
Hints and Hobbies No.12
Watch for free 11 mins

Hints and Hobbies No.12 1926

Who needs an iron when you have a jam jar to hand? The Hints and Hobbies team return for the last surviving edition of the weekly cinemagazine.

11 mins United Kingdom

View The Story of Viyella
The Story of Viyella
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The Story of Viyella 1930

A sheep-to-shop tour of production of the ultra-soft fabric in its Nottinghamshire birthplace.

12 mins United Kingdom

View South Wales Leather
South Wales Leather
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South Wales Leather 1958

Men at work in the Afon Leather Ltd tannery in Llanelli that produced leather for the fashion trade during the 1960s/70s.

3 mins Wales

View Quality Maintenance
Quality Maintenance
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Quality Maintenance 1953

"Quality maintained means orders gained" - how good practice in the cotton industry benefits everyone.

14 mins United Kingdom

View Linen Weaving
Linen Weaving
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Linen Weaving 1957

Enter a giant of the Belfast linen industry and get a joyful glimpse of workers in this bustling York Street mill.

1 mins Northern Ireland

View Lerry Tweed Mills
Lerry Tweed Mills
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Lerry Tweed Mills 1973

The Leri river fuels the Lerry Tweed mills’ machinery and provides excellent water for the making of tweed, woven by hand at these mills in Tal-y-bont, Ceredigion.

14 mins England

View Bywyd - gwlan
Bywyd - gwlan
Watch for free 7 mins

Bywyd - gwlan 1977

A visit to Rock Mill, a woollen mill on the banks of the river Clettwr at Capel Dewi near Llandysul, in the heart of west Wales, where a father and son carry on the family business.

7 mins Wales

View Surprise Visit
Surprise Visit
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Surprise Visit 1974

Ideas for trendy knitwear - and promising careers - in this peppy promo film for Courtaulds spinning factories

20 mins United Kingdom Director. Gordon Hill

View Power behind the Spindle
Power behind the Spindle
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Power behind the Spindle 1969

A last look at the mighty steam engines that once powered Lancashire's mills.

23 mins United Kingdom Director. Gordon Hill

View Lancashire's Time for Adventure
Lancashire's Time for Adventure
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Lancashire's Time for Adventure 1948

"Britain's bread hangs by Lancashire's thread" – cotton, Britain's great post-war hope.

20 mins United Kingdom

View Wake up to Wool
Wake up to Wool
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Wake up to Wool 1967

Escape into the kaleidoscopic world of 1960s fashion, where poodles and their glamorous owners sport matching hand-knitted outfits

19 mins United Kingdom Director. Michael Forlong

View Who Needs Brown Lisle Stockings?
Who Needs Brown Lisle Stockings?
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Who Needs Brown Lisle Stockings? 1975

School uniforms needn't be dull and uncomfortable thanks to man-made, revolutionary thread Crimplene.

20 mins United Kingdom Director. David Evans

Sue Prichard: Textiles on Film

Sue Prichard: Textiles on Film

6 films selected by Sue Prichard

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