Thursday, 28 October 2010

Textile and Industrial Heritage - Madeira Threads

....and here's a selection of the threads sold at MKC, though in drawers of 1000m spools rather than the smaller quantities.

Madeira is a third generation company established in 1908 in Freiburg, Germany. In 1983 Ian and Sara MacPherson set up Madeira Threads (UK) Ltd with Ulrich and Michael Schmidt, grandsons of the original founders, to meet the growing demands for Madeira threads in the UK. They worked from home at first and in 1988 moved to purpose built premises in Thirsk.
Ian and Sara retired in 2001 and Madeira UK is now headed by Karen Burrows, Managing Director, and Clare Walsh, Company Secretary, who have been with Madeira for 17 and 16 years respectively.

Ann Kirk spent at least as much time tracking down the right coloured threads as actually hand stitching the embroidery.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Textile and Industrial Heritage - MKC & The Bernina Club

Normal Service can now be resumed.

As many of you may know, MKC has moved from Kirkgate. Originally the rumours were that the owners were retiring and the business would be closed. Then I heard from a friend that some of the staff were re-opening in new premises near The Calls. I finally made the effort to find the new shop yesterday.

Sheila Udakis (who embroidered the piece above on a computerized machine) and Roy are now operating as MKC (Services), Unit 8, 30-38 Dock Street. Simple to find with parking for those who need it, turn left to the left of The Adelphi.

Still the best choice of Madeira machine embroidery threads in Leeds and suppliers and repairers of sewing machines. Phew.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Arts for All - Town Hall

On the Arts for All panel there's an embroidery of the interior of the Victoria Hall, within the Town Hall, hand stitched by Gill Cooke.

'Directly influenced by Liverpool's St George's Hall and indirectly by the Baths of Caracalla, the basilican form is expressed by coupled Corinthian columns and pilasters separating the bays'

Brodrick also designed the original ten cut glass chandeliers but only three survive and are now in the Civic Hall. The current lights were installed in the 1930s. The organ was the largest ever built by an English firm, at the time, with 6,500 pipes. Henry Smart and William Spark designed it, Gray and Davison (a London firm) built it and the architectural case was designed by Brodrick.

It must have been spectacular for the people of Leeds in the nineteenth century. Reminds me of the Great Exhibition scene in 'North and South'.

Information for this piece from Susan Wrathmell's Pevsner Architectural Guide of Leeds.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Enterprise Panel - Town Hall

Back with Cuthbert Brodrick, his Town Hall is on the Enterprise panel. This was one of the first four panels, completed before we had the technology to scan each of the embroideries before they were stitched to the background. Hopefully the four will be taken out of their frames to get more detailed photographs which could be posted on the blog.

The Town Hall in the night sky was made in applique by Sue Hodgson. This corner of the panel represents the Valentine Fair which used to be held around the Headrow and City Library.

Quoting Building News in 1858 'Profuse in its adornments, it represents an age in which wealth has passed beyond simple comfort to the enjoyment of luxury. It speaks of abundance and displays it'.

The Town Hall was opened by Queen Victoria on 7th September 1858. As with public buildings constructed nowadays, it cost almost four times the original amount but it elevated Leeds into a town with confidence and civic pride. The original plan did not include a clock tower but the civic leaders insisted this should be added, making the building the tallest in Leeds - a record which apparently was unbroken until 1966.

Nine years after the building had been completed the lions were added. The work of William Day Keyworth they walk around the building each night as the clock strikes midnight, before returning to their plinths. Now that's something worth seeing.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Arts for All - Old Museum

The original museum in Leeds was in Park Row, designed by Robert Dennis Chantrell in 1821. During World War Two it suffered extensive damage during an air raid. The building was repaired and continued to house the museum until 1965, when it was moved to the Central Library.

From 1999 until 2008 Leeds has been without its museum, but now many of the old favourites are back on show. The museum service also includes The Discovery Centre, near the Royal Armouries, where the majority of the Leeds collections not on display can be accessed by appointment.

Renditions in embroidery of both the new and old museum were done by Godfrey Harland, the one above on printed fabric (73 hours)

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Arts for All - Millennium Square

Continuing with the theme of Cuthbert Brodrick, this embroidery of ice-skating in Millennium Square, by Godfrey Harland, has as its background the Mechanics Institute in its phase as Civic Theatre. The lecture room was re-modelled for this purpose in 1949.

Pevsner's Guide mentions a quote from "The Builder" at the time when the Institute was built

'The internal arrangements... appear, except in some slight particulars, all that could be desired,' while its external appearance was of 'a grand and well-designed structure' except for the upper part of the building which, 'after its inevitable blackening by smoke, would be like a huge leaden coffin and excessively ugly'.

Recently the building has undergone another change of use and is now the long awaited City Museum, opened on 13 September 2008.

The pink building to the left is called Off-Kilter and houses the equipment to regulate the sound and lighting in Millennium Square, it was created by Richard Wilson in 2000.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The Forgotten ones - First Cloth Hall

This building has been mentioned already on the blog ((26 June, 29 March). Possibly the ONLY building still standing from the Cossins Map, excluding churches. Should there have been a campaign to save it and is it too late? Kirkgate has been closed for its part demolition, I refer you to the BBC website.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Arts for All - Mechanics Institute interior

The Mechanics Institute, one of the buildings designed by Cuthbert Brodrick and opened in 1865.

Leeds Mechanics Institute was founded in 1824 or 1825 (sources vary) and was first established in Park Row. A competition was announced for the plans for the new building in 1860, almost at the same time as Brodrick had won the contest for the Corn Exchange.

The plan was centred on a circular lecture room fitted in a rectangular shell which contained workshops, studios and a library.

In the early nineteenth century Mechanics Institutes were founded in many cities of the UK, the first being in Glasgow. They were usually funded by industrialists to provide education for working men, particularly in technical subjects. It has been said that one of the main aims was to steer people away from gambling and alcohol.

Very soon after the opening of the new building, in 1868, Leeds Mechanics Institute became the Leeds Institute of Science, Art and Literature, later renamed Leeds College of Technology, and now within the Metropolitan University. Research has also revealed that in 1903 it joined with the Literary Institute to form Leeds College of Art. That's the internet for you. Back to the books.

The embroidery was hand stitched on printed fabric by Hilary Thurlow.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Textile and Industrial Heritage - Cuthbert Brodrick

Included on the piece of pink smocking is part of the bust of one of Leeds worthies.

Cuthbert Brodrick was born in Kingston-upon-Hull in 1821. When he was 15 he became articled to Henry Francis Lockwood, an architect in Hull who was influenced by the classical style. After this he toured Europe to study the major cities, then returned to Hull in 1845 to set up his own practice. When he was 29 he won a competition to design Leeds Town Hall, which building was opened by Queen Victoria in September 1858. He also won the competitions to design the Corn Exchange (opened 1862) and the Mechanics Institute (opened 1865).

Brodrick's fourth public building for Leeds was the municipal baths, opened in 1867 and demolished in 1969. There's a strange photograph of the Alpine Sun Baths over on the Leodis site. A bar, named The Cuthbert Brodrick now stands on the site, overlooking Millennium Square.

The piece was hand stitched by Janet Carding (26 hours), love the beard.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Textile and Industrial Heritage - Smocking

Many techniques of manipulation and surface decoration have been used on the Tapestry including smocking used in the background of the Textile panel. These pieces were made by Joan Langfield and Janet Taylor.

Another tenuous link.......

One textile technique not used is intarsia patchwork. If you don't know what it is there's a perfect opportunity to look at an international collection of examples at Leeds Art Gallery (on display until the end of October).

Two textile exhibitions in one building - is Leeds finally acknowledging its history?

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Community Spirit - NSPCC

I should really have mentioned this event before, rather than after the event. A really successful day and still worth including today to make people aware that it may be repeated. I met so many people I know, and haven't seen for years, the common thread? Textiles.

One visitor to the event yesterday embroidered the children for the NSPCC logo. I could remember what she'd made before her name - the danger of being obsessed with databases. So, Julia Cooper, if you're reading this, did you use a computerised machine to make the children? and who stitched the NSPCC?

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
was founded in 1884 by Reverend Benjamin Waugh.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Sports for All - Gymnasts

Intake School students also designed this piece representing gymnasts.

The embroidery was done on a computerised sewing machine, purchased for the Tapestry with the aid of a lottery grant. There were several debates when the panels were being made, about whether machine- and computerised-machine embroidery are a form of cheating. A personal view is that it's like comparing using oils, acrylics and water colours in painting. Each has something different to offer.

One of the gymnasts was scanned into a dedicated software programme on the computer. Areas for sewing were selected, then the computer linked to the sewing machine. The computerised sewing machines are supplied with a hoop for stretching the fabric across, and it's the hoop that moves under instruction from the programme. The programme was run four times to produce the four gymnasts. The sewing machine sews away without interference or need for the pedal but there is a tendency for the thread to snap the minute the 'embroiderer' leaves the room.

Machine embroidered by Barbara Walker (5 hours)

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Sports for All - Rugby Players

I can't identify the rugby players, they are an embroidered version of a cartoon drawn by one of the pupils at Intake School. Apparently the school closed in 2009 and re-opened as Leeds West Academy.

They were hand stitched by Pat Potton.

A very quick posting this morning.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Sports for All - Rugby Stadium

Not only did the pupils at Intake School contribute to the Sports Panel with their designs, teachers also became involved. One of them, Kathryn Vincent, spent many hours stitching the Rhino's ground which had been chartered by Peter Cowgill.

The team were known as Leeds Rugby League Club until 1997 when they became Leeds Rhinos. The ground is adjacent to the Yorkshire County Cricket Club in Headingley. For more information it's probably better to look at their club website rather than have me burble on.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Sports for All - Darren Gough

Several famous cricketers from the past were included in the Tapestry and Darren Gough was there to represent cricketers of the present. He retired at the end of the 2008 season.

Despite leaving Yorkshire for a while to play for Essex, he returned to his home county in 2007 to captain the team.

Darren Gough may have been included on the Tapestry for his cricketing skills but since then he has also become quite a celebrity for winning Strictly Come Dancing. In December 2005, he took part in the BBC television show partnered with British National champion Lilia Kopylova. He went on to win both the main series and the 2005 Christmas Special. Two years later he returned to win the 2007 Christmas Special. Following this he took part in the Strictly Come Dancing live tour during January and February 2008.

The piece was hand stitched by Margaret Clark and designed by one of the pupils at Intake High School.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Sports for All - Headingley Cricket Ground

There are gates at the cricket ground named for Len Hutton.

On 7 March 1861, a Match Fund Committee to run Yorkshire county matches was established in Sheffield, which had by then been the home of Yorkshire cricket for nearly 100 years. It was from this fund that Yorkshire CCC was founded two years later. Yorkshire played their first game at Headingley in 1891 and two years later a major reorganization of the Club saw its centre of operations shift from Sheffield to Leeds.

On 31 December 2005 Yorkshire County Cricket Club purchased the cricket ground for £12 million from the Leeds Cricket, Football and Athletic Company, parent company of the rugby league club, with the help of a £9 million loan from Leeds City Council. This purchase ensures that Test Cricket continues at the venue with a 15-year staging agreement. On 11 January 2006 the stadium was officially renamed the Headingley Carnegie Stadium as a result of sponsorship from Leeds Metropolitan University.

The piece was hand and machine stitched by Janet Taylor (12 hours)

Friday, 3 September 2010

Sports for All - Len Hutton (1916-1990)

Sometimes it can be difficult to think of a subject for the daily blog. There are so many diverse subjects on the Tapestry that a link with the news stories of the day can help. Cricket seems to be featuring heavily at the moment, so not exactly linked to the news story, today's offering is Sir Len Hutton.

Born at Fulneck, Pudsey on 23rd June 1916, he first played cricket, with his father, with Fulneck Sunday School and at the age of 13 was chosen to use the ‘nets’ at Headingley. In 1934 he scored the first of 129 centuries for county and country. In 1938, against the Australians at the Oval, he scored 364 runs, a record that stood for many years until Gary Sobers beat it by one run (against Pakistan in 1958). He was awarded his knighthood in the 1956 New Year’s Honour's List.

The embroidery was hand stitched by Merel Jackson (14 hours). I suspect the print was based on a cigarette card owned by Robin Dove.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Community Spirit - Carnival Queen

This is the final embroidery on the Tapestry from Chapeltown Carnival. Another of the Carnival Queens, this one stitched by Margaret Clark with hand made lace by Audrey Pigeon.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Community Spirit - Injuns

Machine and hand stitched by Jackie Ford (20 hours), this trio was also involved with Carnival. Yet again we have no idea who the boys (?) are or which year they were dressed like this.

The sun is shining this morning so fingers crossed, the weather stays dry for the procession.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Community Spirit - Carnival Queen

Another of the pieces from Carnival, this time one of the Queens. Lets hope the weather stays dry for the next two days for this, the 43rd Carnival. See the blog entry for Arthur France for more details of the history of the event.

Hand stitched on printed fabric by Godfrey Harland (17 hours)

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Community Spirit - Carnival Boy

Bank holiday weekend and it's Chapeltown Carnival time. It's a three day event with a procession starting in Potternewton Park on Monday. Not sure which year this boy is from, so if anyone could identify him I would be grateful.

The piece was hand stitched on printed fabric by Godfrey Harland (68 hours).

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Community Spirit - Irish Dancer

An Irish dancer. There are many thriving groups and classes for the dance around Yorkshire and there's a website devoted to the subject, including making the dresses. These dresses must take an age to make with the design in embroidery and applique.

So, an embroidery of embroidery, stitched by Jan Brown on printed fabric. Does anyone know who the girl is?

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Community Spirit - Orissi Dance

The Orissi dance is the Indian classical dance from the Eastern state of Odissa. It has a long, yet broken tradition. Although dance in Odissa may be traced back more than 2000 years, it was brought to near extinction during the colonial period. Therefore, modern Odissi dance is a reconstruction.

There are taster classes in Leeds to learn some forms of Indian dancing and Zoobin Surty's group often have end of year/term exhibitions at the Yorkshire Dance Centre.

The piece was hand stitched by Thelma Manning (30 hours) on printed fabric.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Community Spirit - Bharatanatyam Dancer

On the Community Spirit panel there are several dancers from many parts of the world. The Morris men and Women have been blogged (see 14th May) already.

Today's offering is Bharatanatyam from South India, not just a dance but a variety of natya yoga which reveals the spiritual through the physical and emotional body. It's possibly more enlightening to check out their website than having me getting things wrong.

Margaret Clark hand stitched this piece (39 1/2 hours).

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Education - Leeds Waterfront Heritage Trail

To promote public awareness & enjoyment of the historic waterfront of Leeds the “Leeds Waterfront Tourist Development Action Programme” was established in 1990. This has involved Leeds City Council, British Waterways, Leeds Development Corporation, and the English and Yorkshire Tourist Boards, as well as the National Rivers Authority and the Leeds/ Bradford City Action Team. Leeds City Museum published a pamphlet showing the Heritage Trail in the early 1990s. The trail starts at Rodley Fall in the west and ends about 8 miles later at Thwaite Mill in the east. Between these two points are museums, Kirkstall Abbey, parks, chemical works, tanneries, rhubarb fields, breweries, hotels and many bridges.

Hand stitched on printed fabric by Lesley Dove in 40 hours.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Education - College of Art and Design

The logo of Leeds College of Art & Design is taken from a section of the large rectangular double figured mosaic built into the wall above the front entrance of the College in Vernon Street. The colourful mosaic was designed by Professor Gerald Moira (1867-1959) of the RCA specifically for the new art college building. It was made by Rust & Co in their then new vitreous enamel and represents the muses 'Art' and Design' (only Art is represented on the panel). Does anyone know where Rust & Co were based?

The building itself was designed by architects Francis Bedford and Sydney Kitson and was opened in 1903.

It took Jan Webster fifty-six hours to complete this piece using French knots.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Leeds in Bloom -Butterflies

Despite the changeable weather since the children started their school holidays I just wanted to remind myself and others that officially it is still summer. Today, briefly, there were some butterflies in the garden, so, in celebration, three small creatures using different embroidery techniques.

Hand made lace by Audrey Pigeon (5 hours)

Satin stitch by Valerie Horner (6 1/2 hours)

Probably machine stitching on vanishing fabric with chain stitch and pearl beads added, worked by Renee Silverman (2 hours).

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Environment - Dent Head viaduct

I'm not sure where this cross stitch of Dent Head viaduct, stitched by Christine Pitchfork, was going to be used but it is included in the book with the pieces from the Environment panel. At least the real thing is in use as part of the Settle to Carlisle Railway.

After writing about the Gascoigne canal not coming to fruition I was sent a quote about another failed attempt at linking towns in Yorkshire with various forms of transport.

"A quarter of a mile above the Wharfe road bridge in Tadcaster, an imposing viaduct of eleven arches spans the River Wharfe.

This was built as part of a projected direct Leeds to York railway promoted by the industrialist George Hudson through the York & North Midland Railway. The construction of the line was authorised in 1846. It was to run from Copmanthorpe to Cross Gates, joining the Church Fenton to Harrogate railway line between Tadcaster and Stutton.

The collapse of railway investment in 1849 lead to the line being abandoned after the viaduct had been constructed. The need for the line evaporated with the opening of the Micklethorpe to Church Fenton line in 1869.

Extract from Tadcaster historical information dated 1890 - "About a quarter-of-a-mile above the road bridge is a handsome viaduct of eleven arches spanning the Wharfe. This was erected whilst George Hudson was the ruling spirit in the railway world, but with the collapse of the "Railway King" the line, which was intended to connect Tadcaster with York, was abandoned. The viaduct was subsequently purchased by the North-Eastern Railway Co."

Between 1883 and 1959 the viaduct carried a siding that serviced a mill on the East side of the River Wharfe. The last time the viaduct was used to fetch and carry goods was in 1955. The structure is now a Grade II Listed Building owned by Tadcaster Town Council for the use and pleasure of the local people."

Quite an expensive mistake.

There's a whole host of disused viaducts, tunnels etc on the Forgotten Relics of an Enterprising Age website.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Environment - Scarecrow sample

Another piece not used on the final panels but this time because it was a sample for the rag rugging technique used for the Environment panel. This one was made by Margaret Kenny as a test piece to see if really fine canvas could by used.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

On the Move - The Butty

By the time the full scale cartoon of the panel was put together there were several small sections of embroidery which didn't quite fit in with the overall look. Most of them fitted well with the Textile & Industrial Heritage but the butty above is still waiting for a serendipity panel.

A butty is a second boat pulled by the narrow boat, it has no engine but does need to be manned, to operate the rudder. Apparently they were introduced as late as the twentieth century when engines replaced horses as the source of power.

This particular butty, Ash, is possibly the one towed by Oak and operated as a hotel by Reed Boats.

Pauline Clayden hand stitched the piece on printed fabric.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Textile and Industrial Heritage - Garforth Colliery Barge

Just returned from Hartlepool, where the Tall Ships have been docked over the weekend. A really impressive sight and a great opportunity to catch up with friends who've also left the town. This photograph, though not too good, is included for health and safety issues

Another tenuous link - Leeds may not have the sea but in the past sails may have been seen in the area. Today's offering is Garforth Colliery Barge.

Sir Thomas Gascoigne planned a canal to Tadcaster, to ease transport from his colliery, and even acquired an Act in 1774. Realising that such a navigation would open the Wharfedale market to competing collieries, Sir Thomas abandoned the plan. Presumably, this is an illustration from his scheme of 1774.

The embroidery was hand stitched on printed fabric by Joyce Maynard.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Leeds in Bloom - Elizabeth Bidgood's Garden

Sometimes the link between embroiderer and subject is even closer (see yesterday's post). Elizabeth Bidgood stitched her garden for the Leeds in Bloom panel. She regularly opens it to the public to raise money for charities and sponsored hers and Temple Newsam's on the Tapestry.

I met her, in her role as Chairman of the Leeds Horticultural Society, at the Flower Show yesterday and she said that the garden is much altered now from the depiction on the panel.

Many techniques were used in stitching this piece including cross stitch, hand stitching and, I suspect, a few french knots.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Leeds in Bloom - Joe Maiden & Gardening Which

This weekend Leeds Flower Show is taking place at the Grammar School at Leeds up in Alwoodley. Joe Maiden is broadcasting from there this morning for his gardening programme on Radio Leeds.

Renee Davidson stitched the background in counted thread work. A second print of Joe Maiden was made, hand stitched by Merel Jackson (11 hours) and appliqued to the ground. Merel was one of the stalwart helpers at the Show until last year so it's appropriate she stitched Joe.

Quite often there is a link between the embroiderer and the subject.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Community Spirit - Caring Together

Another community organisation, this one based in Woodhouse and Little London. Caring Together provides support and practical advice to people aged 50+ in the area.

The embroidery was hand and machine stitched on printed fabric by Ena Dunn (10 hours).

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Community Spirit - Armley Helping Hands

Some time ago a friend sent me a link to this site describing an exhibition of photographs at Armley Mills illustrating the hands of women who worked at the mill. Many of those workers now meet at Armley Helping Hands, the local organisation which supports the elderly, with activities and a lunch club helping to prevent social isolation.

A small piece of embroidery but Armley Helping Hands is represented on the Tapestry with this, hand stitched by Barbara Farrugia (3 hours).

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

LS2000 - The White Rose Centre

The centre opened on 25 March 1997 and is linked to the M621. It's a smaller version of Meadowhall and The Metro Centre with shops such as Sainsbury's, Marks and Spencer and Bhs. There's free parking for 4,800 cars but it still seems an easier option to nip into the City centre on the bus! I must make the effort to go there sometime, but do prefer the option of fresh air between shops.

The building was hand stitched on printed fabric by Renee Silverman and the shrubbery made by resident tree maker, Margaret Kenny.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Faith in the City - Trees

Machine embroidered trees supplied for the Faith panel by Margaret Kenny.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Faith in the City - Two congregations

Happy Yorkshire Day.

Several of the volunteers were called upon to provide crowd scenes and trees, at fairly short notice, when the panels were being stitched down and a gap needed filling. These two crowds were hand painted and hand stitched by Gill Cook for the Faith panel.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Arts for All - Grand Theatre Ceiling

Yesterday was the monthly coffee morning for those volunteers at the Tapestry who still keep in touch. If anyone is reading this who wants to join the meetings just pop down to the Tiled Hall at the Art Gallery/Library on the last Friday of each month at 11 am. The function starts with a drink and often extends to lunch as well.

The tiled hall was a hidden gem of the city while the Tapestry was being designed and stitched but would definitely have been chosen in 2010. The ceiling is magnificent, but photographs taken yesterday were too poor to post here.

Another ceiling worthy of mention is in the auditorium of the Grand Theatre which has recently had a major makeover. This was included on the Arts panel, hand stitched by Godfrey Harland.

The Grand Theatre has its own book, "Grand Memories" by Patricia Lennon and David Joy, published in 2006 which gives a lot of information about the history, performances, performers there and some beautiful photographs.

The first performance at the theatre was Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" on November 18th, 1878. In 1969 there was a plan to destroy the building and replace it with a 22 storey office block - fortunately the planning application was turned down, mainly because of its Grade II listing. Now, back to its former glory it's open for business again with the additional venue of the Assembly Rooms for smaller concerts and performances.

Links to other Millennium Embroideries

I've found another one in Hull, apparently there's open access to it in the Guildhall.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Textile and Industrial Heritage - Elida Faberge

The final piece on the Textile and Industrial Heritage panel sponsored by Unilever is another rendition of Watson's Matchless Cleanser, this time with the lettering for Elida Faberge.

Joseph Watson's grandson, also Joseph, retired from business in 1917 and sold his interests to Lord Leverhulme but Watson's Matchless Cleanser was still produced with that name until 1933.

Lever's and all its subsidiaries became part of Unilever in 1930 but were not called that until fairly recently. In 1962 the Leeds works were known as Gibbs Pepsodent, then in 1965 as Gibbs Proprietaries. In 1971 they became Elida Gibbs and during the production of the Tapestry were known as Elida Faberge. No wonder that until the move from Whitehall Road in the 1980s they were still affectionately known as Soapy Joe's.

Leeds branch of Unilever is now based at Seacroft, I haven't managed to track down what is made there though it seems that it is Europe's largest aerosol factory and is set up for recycling.

This little chap was hand stitched by Evi Malm.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Textile and Industrial Heritage - Pear's Soap

Soap producers in Britain seem to have been quite inventive with their advertising campaigns. First with free gifts for returned wrappers, then children's beauty competitions and who can forget the free plastic flowers in the 1950s and 1960s. Improved hygiene in the 1800s produced many new soap firms until the industry reached saturation point at the beginning of the twentieth century leading to many of the firms amalgamating, it's interesting though that many of the brand names remain.

Sir John Everett Millais was a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood which had been founded in his home in September 1848. He often worked to commission, but Bubbles was painted for his own pleasure. He was captivated watching his grandson, Willie James, blowing bubbles and recreated this event on canvas.

Sir William Ingram bought the painting and the copyright thinking that it would make a marvellous presentation print for his Illustrated London News. He in turn was approached by Mr Barrett from A & F Pears with the proposed addition of the Pears soap bar and lettering to be used for an advertising campaign.

When the advert first came out a heated debate took place in a series of letters to the Times, with many believing Millais had painted the portrait specifically for the advert. Eventually many agreed that its use raised the standard of advertising.

In 1958 the firm introduced the Miss Pears promotion, inviting parents to send in shots of their daughters, the winners of the competition being photographed by eminent photographers for the advertising campaign. Ten years later an added bonus was introduced with the winner of the competition being painted by a well-known portrait painter.

A & F Pears is now part of the Unilever group, along with Joseph Watson, with a substantial branch of the company at Seacroft.

Joan Holah hand stitched this piece on printed fabric (40 hours)
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