The end of the project, but use of the Manufacturing Pasts collections is only beginning

I can hardly believe we have reached the end of the project.  I have just uploaded the last of the primary digitised materials (of which we have over 300), and the 58th and final learning resource (Terese has somewhat surpassed her initial estimate of 10 resources per theme!!) to the MyLeicestershire History website.

We have 17 different types of source material, from the normal (photographs, newspaper articles, maps) to the slightly more obscure (company building plans, and a few leaflets and an e-mail).


The learning resources use a variety of formats, ranging from powerpoints and pdfs to Prezi’s and those for mobile  applications.  We hope that by providing this diversity it will enable people to engage with more of the resources.

prezi screenshot

The draft final report is almost complete, and will soon be accompanied by a video featuring members of the project team, these will be added to the website in due course.  The flyers have been disseminated, and the banner is about to be stowed away, although not for long…….

We will officially launch the collections at a Heritage Day conference organised jointly by Leicestershire Industrial History Society, The David Wilson Library and the

Centre for Urban History, University of Leicester, called Manufacturing: Past, Present and Future, which takes place on the 27th April 2013. 

In addition Terese and I will be running two sessions with local library groups (Leicester Central Library and Belgrave Library) in March, and I do not doubt that other opportunities to go out and talk to people will arise in the next few months.

If you are interested in learning more about the project and resources you are welcome to e-mail us .  Otherwise, enjoy the materials and resources and feel free to make (non-commercial) use of them.

W36_ThreadCo_1 New_Byford_Factory_Abbey_Lane_Leicester Mawby_and_King_glass_factory_awaiting_demolition_1965


Buildings at risk – assessing and preserving Leicester’s heritage

I was delighted to see the BBC report this morning on the launch by English Heritage of the Heritage at Risk Register 2012.

As Terese and I have both commented in previous blogs, many of the buildings which form the focus of our Manufacturing Pasts project have suffered from a lack of care and attention, which has either resulted in fire damage or eventual demolition.

Take the Liberty Building, which was Grade II listed.  The council refused and approved various proposed changes to the use of the site over a period of 15 years, but due to a combination of break-ins and vandalism the building became derelict and, as develops at the time put it “more economic to demolish and replace rather than repair” (Leicester Mercury April 2001).  Our Liberty Timeline draws together the rise and fall of this factory, with photos, planning applications and newspaper articles testimony to not only the high regard in which the building was held, but also the state it was in before it was demolished. 

Another factory we have looked at in some depth was Corah.  Although to my knowledge never listed, this building has been partially occupied since Corah ceased trading, but there is clear evidence that some parts of the building remain exactly the same as when Corah left, with company publications, diaries and memos laying around inside, whilst outside there are smashed windows and graffiti.  See our flickr page for recent photos.  In April this year the building suffered extensive damage as a result of arson.

Our collection also contains items relating to Donisthorpe and Co.’s Friars Mill, another Grade II listed building included in our project, which has also succumbed to fire and graffiti after the owners went bankrupt and were unable to keep the building secure, and the photographs contained in our prezi Explore Historic and Industrial Leicester evidence the state of disrepair of the Frisby Jarvis Building.

I hope this move by English Heritage, tied in with Mayor Soulsby’s recent initiative on the ‘Story of Leicester’ will mean that more of Leicester’s industrial heritage can be preserved.

The factory, the community, and de-industrialization

The project has moved on another stage in the past week, with additional learning resources and digitised primary resources being made available for our second two themes:

  • De-industrialization
  • The factory and the community (formerly The ecology of the industrial town or city)

The learning resources, produced by our Learning Technologist Terese Bird, are available both on our project website ( and our collection on

Donisthorpes craped hair - trade mark example

Donisthorpes craped hair – trade mark example

Terese has already blogged about her prezi on Frog Island (part of our de-industrialization theme), but she’s also produced one on Leicester’s Castle Ward for The factory and the community.  In addition she’s been busy listening to many hours of audio recordings of people who live in and around Walnut Street in Leicester (home of the old Liberty factory) as well as people who worked for the Corah factory, releasing extracts on certain topics, combining it with images in some cases.

Our project partners, the Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office have also digitised their selected primary resources which relate to de-industrialisation, many of which have now been uploaded and are available on

 Factories we have focussed on here are Friars’ Mills, owned by Donisthorpe & Co. Ltd (whose trade marks you can see in this blog), Frisby Jarvis (as Terese mentioned in her previous blog) and Hawley & Johnson (a local dyers), amongst others.

Donisthorpe were a major knitwear company in Leicester for 130 years.  We document the growth and changes experienced by the factory as it moved to computerised production, and the attempts to preserve the building once the factory closed. Sadly the building caught fire in late July, leaving only the shell remaining.  Read Terese’s blog post here: Capturing history before it goes.

At this stage we currently have 144 digitised primary resources and well over 20 learning resources across the four themes.

Donisthorpes beautiful hair - trade mark example