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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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Caefelin Laundry, LlangollenCaefelin Laundry, Llangollen

Home movie193720 minsSilent Location: Llangollen

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.

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For Sheer PerfectionFor Sheer Perfection

Documentary196524 mins Location: Langley Mill

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

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Paper FashionPaper Fashion

News19676 mins Location: Newcastle upon Tyne

Fashion doesnt grow on treesor 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.

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Fancy Yarn ProductionFancy Yarn Production

Industry sponsored film197123 mins Location: Greengates

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.

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

Promotional191919 minsSilent Location: Bolton

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

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Platt Bros and Co. Ltd - Textile MachinistsPlatt Bros and Co. Ltd - Textile Machinists

Promotional192521 minsSilent Location: Werneth

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

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Lancashire HotpotLancashire Hotpot

Drama194910 mins Location: Bolton

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

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Focus on KnitwearFocus on Knitwear

Industry sponsored film196621 mins Location: Sherwood

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

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Antique Lace MachinesAntique Lace Machines

Non-Fiction19764 mins Location: Chilwell

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.

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Workers Leaving Textile Factory in Patricroft (1901)Workers Leaving Textile Factory in Patricroft (1901)

Non-Fiction19002 minsSilent

Grinning textile workers head through the factory gates, another shift completed.

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Durham CarpetsDurham Carpets

Documentary197824 mins Location: Durham

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

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So It all Comes out Super in the WashSo It all Comes out Super in the Wash

Training film/TV programme197218 mins

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

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From Wool to WearerFrom Wool to Wearer

Promotional191317 minsSilent Location: Hawick

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

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Back to BackBack to Back

Promotional196118 mins Location: Leek

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.

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The George Saxon Engine, Magnet MillThe George Saxon Engine, Magnet Mill

Documentary19667 mins Location: Chadderton

See how steam powered the textile industry of Lancashire.

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Warp and WoofWarp and Woof

Documentary197526 mins Location: Ruddington

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.

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Knitwear Workers Protest MarchKnitwear Workers Protest March

Non-Fiction19812 mins Location: Nottingham

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

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London Line No. 373London Line No. 373

Cinemagazine197115 minsSilent Location: Westminster

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.

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All about Witney BlanketsAll about Witney Blankets

Industry sponsored film191915 minsSilent Location: Witney

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

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Two Lancashire Cotton Workers Discuss SafeguardingTwo Lancashire Cotton Workers Discuss Safeguarding

Party political broadcast19358 mins Location: Oldham

Not a politician in sight in this clever Conservative election campaign film.

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Here We Come to Learn a TradeHere We Come to Learn a Trade

Industry sponsored film195825 mins Location: Bradford

Slow fashion offers career opportunities for the youth of Yorkshire

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Cotton Spinning at Osborne Mill, OldhamCotton Spinning at Osborne Mill, Oldham

Documentary197113 minsSilent Location: Chadderton

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

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Masculinity in ModesMasculinity in Modes

19311 minsSilent

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

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Air to WearAir to Wear

Advert19572 minsSilent

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

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Silver Joy NylonsSilver Joy Nylons

Industry sponsored film195433 minsSilent Location: Ilkeston

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.

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Co-operative Wholesale Clothing Factory in Manchester (c.1900)Co-operative Wholesale Clothing Factory in Manchester (c.1900)

Non-Fiction19002 minsSilent Location: Manchester

Victorian Manchester mill workers enjoy the novelty of a moving picture camera.

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Bathing FashionBathing Fashion

Non-Fiction19221 minsSilent Location: Chiswick

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.

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Models showcase the latest fashion in TruroModels showcase the latest fashion in Truro

News19705 mins Location: Truro

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

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Tie and DyeTie and Dye

Cinemagazine19703 mins

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

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London Line Colour Series 1 Issue 1London Line Colour Series 1 Issue 1

Cinemagazine196614 mins Location: Fulham

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

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Cotton Come BackCotton Come Back

Industry sponsored film194626 mins Location: Shaw

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.

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The Princess and the Wonderful WeaverThe Princess and the Wonderful Weaver

Animation & Artists Moving Image196812 mins

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

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Underwear and HosieryUnderwear and Hosiery

Non-Fiction192420 minsSilent

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

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Everything but Everything in Bri-nylonEverything but Everything in Bri-nylon

Industry sponsored film195920 mins

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

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Workers at Spring Bank Mill, Nelson (1900)Workers at Spring Bank Mill, Nelson (1900)

Non-Fiction19001 minsSilent Location: Nelson

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

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Workpeople and Girls Leaving Thos. Adams Factory, Nottingham (1900)Workpeople and Girls Leaving Thos. Adams Factory, Nottingham (1900)

Non-Fiction19001 minsSilent Location: Nottingham

The hustle and bustle of Edwardian lace-workers heading home after a morning shift.

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Macclesfield Hails Britain's Silk QueenMacclesfield Hails Britain's Silk Queen

Non-Fiction19334 mins Location: Macclesfield

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

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Views Past and Present at Spring Grove MillsViews Past and Present at Spring Grove Mills

193326 minsSilent Location: Scissett

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.

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Cressbrook: A Derbyshire MillCressbrook: A Derbyshire Mill

Documentary197216 mins Location: Cressbrook

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

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London Line No. 113London Line No. 113

Cinemagazine196614 mins Location: Sevenoaks

If your interests happen to include rainwear, concrete in Africa, science in Sevenoaks, and gbedu drum music, then this is your lucky day...

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Made in WalesMade in Wales

19707 mins Location: Conwy

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

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Last TimeLast Time

Amateur film19826 mins Location: Burnley

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

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Workforce at Horrocks Miller & Co. Preston (c.1901)Workforce at Horrocks Miller & Co. Preston (c.1901)

Non-Fiction19011 minsSilent Location: Preston

A vibrant impression of dinner hour at an Edwardian cotton mill.

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The Duke of York's Visit to Horrock's MillsThe Duke of York's Visit to Horrock's Mills

Non-Fiction192222 minsSilent Location: Preston

A tour of cotton production at a Preston mill - for the benefit of the future George VI

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Kidderminster StoryKidderminster Story

Documentary196325 mins Location: Kidderminster

Unable to 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.

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Inside W. Tatton Silk Works, LeekInside W. Tatton Silk Works, Leek

Promotional196314 minsSilent Location: Leek

Spinning silk with speed and precision in Staffordshire.

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Yeovil's Clark's Shoe FactoryYeovil's Clark's Shoe Factory

News19751 minsSilent Location: Yeovil

Clark's Factory in its 150th year

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Fabrics of the FutureFabrics of the Future

Industry sponsored film194621 mins

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

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Workforce Leaving Cartwright & Warner Hosiery Works, Loughborough (1900)Workforce Leaving Cartwright & Warner Hosiery Works, Loughborough (1900)

Non-Fiction19001 minsSilent Location: Loughborough

Victorian women workers (and a few men) hasten through the gates of the hosiery works after their shift.

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Baxholme: A Tour of their Nottingham FactoriesBaxholme: A Tour of their Nottingham Factories

Promotional195518 mins Location: Nottingham

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

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Albert's Last SkepAlbert's Last Skep

Documentary197828 mins Location: Bradford

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.

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Carnival in the Clothes CupboardCarnival in the Clothes Cupboard

Advert19416 mins

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

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Ladybird' Children's Clothing Company ClosureLadybird' Children's Clothing Company Closure

News19801 mins Location: Plymouth

Ladybird is best, the 20th century's leading children’s brand

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Employees Leaving Baxter's Jute Works, Dundee (1901)Employees Leaving Baxter's Jute Works, Dundee (1901)

Non-Fiction19011 minsSilent Location: Dundee

Edwardian textile workers leave a Dundee mill.

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Daybrook is the NameDaybrook is the Name

Industry sponsored film196213 mins Location: Daybrook

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?

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Joe Kagan: Just Another Bump in the RoadJoe Kagan: Just Another Bump in the Road

Current affairs198038 mins Location: Elland

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.

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Workers at India Mills, Stockport (1900)Workers at India Mills, Stockport (1900)

Non-Fiction19001 minsSilent Location: Stockport

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

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From Bale to Finished ClothFrom Bale to Finished Cloth

Documentary195034 minsSilent Location: Bury

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

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Sheep Shearing – Llanrwst ShowSheep Shearing – Llanrwst Show

Home movie19698 minsSilent Location: Llanrwst

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

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Her Dress AllowanceHer Dress Allowance

Promotional19307 minsSilent Location: Manchester

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

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The January SalesThe January Sales

News19771 minsSilent Location: Exeter

January Sales

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New PlantNew Plant

Industry sponsored film195030 minsSilent Location: Elland

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.

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See You TomorrowSee You Tomorrow

Industry sponsored film196517 mins Location: Halifax

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.

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Co-op Fashion HighlightsCo-op Fashion Highlights

Promotional19707 mins Location: Newcastle upon Tyne

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

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Thinking of TextilesThinking of Textiles

School programme and Educational film197825 mins Location: Leeds

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.

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SilkSilk

Industry sponsored film194018 mins Location: Macclesfield

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

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It All Began with VelvetIt All Began with Velvet

Industry sponsored film195531 mins Location: Manningham

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

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Cotton BlossomsCotton Blossoms

Documentary194378 mins Location: Bury

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

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Cotton CountsCotton Counts

Documentary195119 mins Location: Bolton

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

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Plymouth's Berkertex Textile FactoryPlymouth's Berkertex Textile Factory

News19709 mins Location: Plymouth

Plymouth’s Berkertex Spinning Yarns

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Axminister CarpetsAxminister Carpets

News19676 mins Location: Axminster

Axminster Carpets by appointment

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Woven by HandWoven by Hand

Documentary197011 mins Location: Macclesfield

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

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From Back to BackFrom Back to Back

Promotional192337 minsSilent Location: Manchester

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

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Any Questions on CottonAny Questions on Cotton

Documentary195526 mins Location: Manchester

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

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Costume and DesignCostume and Design

News19665 mins Location: Widmouth

Fashion through the ages

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Introducing William Pickles GroupIntroducing William Pickles Group

Promotional19535 mins Location: Manchester

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

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Dulverton TextilesDulverton Textiles

News19756 mins Location: Dulverton

Dulverton Textiles in Tatters

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Mill Workers Leaving Oldroyd & Sons Mill, Dewsbury (1900)Mill Workers Leaving Oldroyd & Sons Mill, Dewsbury (1900)

Non-Fiction19001 minsSilent Location: Dewsbury

Workers of all ages depart Oldroyd's wool mill – and the filmmakers' camera is a subject of curiosity.

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Wheel of FortuneWheel of Fortune

Amateur film196110 minsSilent Location: Helmshore

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

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Lancashire PrideLancashire Pride

Documentary195058 mins Location: Wycoller

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

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Electricity - Power for GoodElectricity - Power for Good

Promotional196135 mins Location: Whitby

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

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MiniskirtsMiniskirts

News19664 mins Location: Plymouth

Miniskirt - Passion and Power

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Textile Factory in RedruthTextile Factory in Redruth

News19751 minsSilent Location: Redruth

Redruth Cottage Industry

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Platt's Lap ConverterPlatt's Lap Converter

Promotional195113 mins Location: Oldham

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

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Fibre to FabricFibre to Fabric

Promotional194812 mins Location: Manchester

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

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Waterfall Mill, BlackburnWaterfall Mill, Blackburn

Amateur film195012 minsSilent Location: Blackburn

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

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Mave Spencer's Vintage ClothingMave Spencer's Vintage Clothing

News19776 mins Location: St Ives

Vintage St.Ives

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Colour in SilkColour in Silk

Promotional195414 mins Location: Macclesfield

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

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Coloured Woven Cloth Production by Barden Mill Co., (Burnley) LtdColoured Woven Cloth Production by Barden Mill Co., (Burnley) Ltd

Documentary194926 minsSilent Location: Burnley

Warp twisting and high speed pirn winding? Come inside a Lancashire mill to find out more.

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Research and Development at HelmshoreResearch and Development at Helmshore

Documentary195222 minsSilent Location: Helmshore

Analysis through action - the testing of textile machinery in the mill.

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As Dreams Are Made Of...As Dreams Are Made Of...

Fantasy196513 mins

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

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Rope and net-making in BridportRope and net-making in Bridport

News19626 minsSilent Location: Bridport

Bridport Rope; plenty to go around

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Make-do-and-mendMake-do-and-mend

Animation & Artists Moving Image19451 mins

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

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Hainsworth CollectionHainsworth Collection

195317 minsSilent Location: Pudsey

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.

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City of WomenCity of Women

Documentary198725 mins Location: Nottingham

"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?

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Hints and Hobbies No.10Hints and Hobbies No.10

Interest film192614 minsSilent

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

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Hints and Hobbies No.12Hints and Hobbies No.12

Magazine and Review show192612 minsSilent

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.

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The Story of ViyellaThe Story of Viyella

193024 minsSilent Location: Pleasley

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

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South Wales LeatherSouth Wales Leather

Home movie19584 minsSilent

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

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Quality MaintenanceQuality Maintenance

Training film/TV programme195315 mins Location: Manchester

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

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Linen WeavingLinen Weaving

Sponsored film19571 minsSilent Location: Belfast

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

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Lerry Tweed MillsLerry Tweed Mills

Documentary197315 mins Location: Tal-y-bont

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.

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Bywyd - gwlanBywyd - gwlan

Documentary19778 mins

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.

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Surprise VisitSurprise Visit

Documentary197420 mins

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

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Power behind the SpindlePower behind the Spindle

Documentary196922 mins Location: Oldham

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

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Lancashire's Time for AdventureLancashire's Time for Adventure

194821 minsSilent Location: Oldham

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

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Wake up to WoolWake up to Wool

Promotional196719 mins

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

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Who Needs Brown Lisle Stockings?Who Needs Brown Lisle Stockings?

Documentary197515 mins Location: Clacton-On-Sea

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

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Cotton's 'shop Window'Cotton's 'shop Window'

Non-Fiction19301 minsSilent Location: Manchester

Get the speeches over with, we want the fashion show! Lancashire Cotton Fair opens in Manchester

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Yorkshire Woollen Workers Discuss SafeguardingYorkshire Woollen Workers Discuss Safeguarding

Party political broadcast193110 mins

A heated canteen discussion segues from football to trade tariffs in this Conservative campaign film

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Rayon - First among FibresRayon - First among Fibres

Documentary196524 mins

A richly-textured tribute to the king of manmade fibres

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Ready to WearReady to Wear

Cinemagazine196210 mins Location: London

A portrait of the British fashion industry that patronises its African intended audience

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Small Silk Weaving FactorySmall Silk Weaving Factory

News19764 mins Location: Castle Hedingham

Redundant weaver continues the traditions of the East Anglian silk industry, opening a new factory in Castle Hedingham, Essex.

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Sue Prichard: Textiles on Film
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Sue Prichard: Textiles on Film

Former V&A curator and current Senior Curator of Decorative Arts at Royal Museums Greenwich, Sue Prichard, unravels some key works from our Textiles on Film collection.