Marks and Spencer is bringing its textile innovations, developed throughout the retailers 130-year history, to Quarry Bank Mill in Styal.
Working in partnership with the with national trust at Quarry Bank Mill, the M&S Company Archive, which houses over 70,000 historic items from the retailers history at the University of Leeds’ Michael Marks Building, (opened in 2012) has created the ‘Revolutionary Fabrics’ Exhibition.
The new exhibition, which is located in the Cotton Gallery, uses items from M&S’ archive to tell the story of how innovative new materials such as Crimplene, Bri-nylon and Tricel made a huge impact on clothing following World War II. The displays showcase a handpicked selection of M&S garments, including previously unseen items, dating from the 1940s to the 1990s.
Visitors will be able to learn about how M&S has continued to be at the forefront of textile development, from the wonder fabrics pioneered in the first ever fabric research laboratory in 1935, to fabric innovations that have influenced clothing today. The exhibition will be on show inside the Mill at Quarry Bank which is renowned for cotton manufacturing in the North West, until October this year. From 1960s lingerie to formal menswear from the 1980s, visitors will have the opportunity to see and touch the fabrics on display.
We headed down there this week to take a look at the fashions and fabrics of years gone by and we are so thankful we were born in the 21st century!
While these gorgeous shift dresses look like they could be styled now with chunky boots, the ladies fitted slip from the 1960’s is something to be desired. It looks great but the Nylon fabric would be certain to make us itch under our dress!
The admission fee also includes entry to the grounds and apprentice houses, so as it was a sunny day, we treated our selves to ice cream and walked through the gorgeous gardens which are maintained by volunteers. It’s perfect for a family day out in the sunshine, and its educational too!
Hannah Jenkinson, Archivist at the M&S Company Archive said, “Quarry Bank is one of Britain’s greatest industrial heritage sites so we are delighted that we have been able to add to the displays with our exciting exhibition. ‘Revolutionary Fabrics’ gives visitors the opportunity to learn more about how M&S changed the face of textiles in the UK. From our textile laboratories to our first machine-washable wool garments, people can find out about the innovations throughout our history that we can still see today.”
Visitors to the Cotton Mill at Quarry Bank will also be able to experiences Europe’s most powerful working waterwheel, alongside original heritage machinery and steam engines. We felt like we’d been transported back in time! For more information about this and other public events at the Archive, please visit www.marksintime.marksandspencer.com
Quarry Bank Mill is open Mon-Sun, 11am-5pm, for more information please visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/quarry-bank