This film is part of Free

It All Began with Velvet

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

Industry sponsored film 1955 31 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


An eye opening perspective on post-war Britain through fabric. As well as providing a very clear introduction to how fabrics were made at the time, with a focus on velvet, this film gives some great examples of soft furnishings seen in a typical 1950s home. The huge wealth of designs and glorious colours used on furnishings show just how house proud people had become, and also how public transport decked itself out with a modern look.

This film is another example of the many promotional films made after the war by Bradford film producers C H Wood. Started by Samuel and John Lister in 1838, Lister's were major forerunners as worsted spinners and manufacturers. At its height Lister's was the largest silk mill in the world, employing 11,000 adults and children. A major strike there in 1890 led directly to the formation of the Independent Labour Party in Bradford in 1893. The Grade II listed mill, in the Italianate style, closed in 1992 –now apartments (renamed Velvet Mill). The actor doing the commentary, Frank Phillips, was a regular, unaccredited, radio announcer in films of the time, and the voice for a recording of Peter and the Wolf in 1949.