Manuscripts and Special Collections

J.B. Walker lace company

November 30th, 2010 at 11:11

A new collection of material relating to one of Nottingham’s oldest lace manufacturing companies has just been made available to researchers.

Women workers in the Mending Room at J.B. Walker's Sandiacre lace factory, c.1930 (BWL/12/2/1)

Women workers in the Mending Room at J.B. Walker's Sandiacre lace factory, c.1930 (BWL/12/2/1)

J.B. Walker and Company Ltd was a family firm which was established in the 1840s in Lenton. In the 1880s J.B. Walker built a factory in Sandiacre. The company designed and made lace curtains and tablecloths there until 1990. The archives of the company were collected by its managing director, J.A. Walker MBE (1910-2009), who was also the chairman of the firm’s parent company, Basford Textiles Group Ltd. They include photographs and newspaper cuttings, and a detailed history of the company by Jane Bealby, published in 2009. Mrs Bealby drew heavily on the papers within the collection, and especially the written recollections of her father J.A. Walker.

Among the fascinating documents in the collection are papers relating to the British lace industry in the Second World War. The industry was one of those which underwent ‘concentration’, to ensure that factories were turned over to production of essential supplies for the army. Instead of lace curtains, the machine holders made camouflage masks and mosquito nets. To achieve this, private firms were merged into a new company, ‘British Lace Furnishings Ltd’, between 1942 and 1948.

Researchers interested in J.B. Walker and Co. Ltd, or in the wider history of the Nottingham lace industry, can search or browse descriptions of the collection on the Manuscripts Online Catalogue, under document reference BWL. The collection can be seen by appointment in the Reading Room at King’s Meadow Campus.

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