Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Textile and Industrial Heritage - Marks and Spencer

Apologies for the lack of blogging for the last few months. I've finally found the passwords in an old diary.

Marks and Spencer is the feature today, for the last year or so we've been aware that the firm were having a purpose built archive in Leeds and on Friday of this week (March 16th) it will be open to the public for the first time. It's handily situated on the old Grammar School site at the University of Leeds so both M&S and Ulita (University of Leeds Textile Archive held in the former Grammar School Chapel) can be visited in one outing. Leeds is finally getting textile archives which reflect the history of the City.

Michael Marks(1863-1909) was born in Bialystock in Poland and came to England in 1882. Looking for Barran's works he stumbled into Dewhirst's wholesale factory, borrowed £5 and used it to buy goods to sell as a pedlar. In 1884 he opened a stall in Kirkgate Market where his catch phrase became "Don't ask the price; its a penny". By 1890 he had 5 of these Penny Bazaars in Leeds, Castleford, Wakefield, Warrington and Birkenhead and was looking for a partner to help with the expansion. Thomas Spencer (1888-1964), the cashier and book keeper for Dewhirsts was recommended and they formed the partnership in 1894. By 1905 together they had opened 70 bazaars

The embroidery was hand stitched by Joan Holah on printed fabric.

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