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Family, work and leisure in a hosiery town. Hinckley 1640-2000

By Rhianydd Murray

Abstract

My research concentrates on a social history of the hosiery industry in the Hinckley\ud area. The work undertaken may be divided into three parts – the historical background\ud which commenced with the introduction of the framework knitting machine into\ud Hinckley by William Iliffe in 1640; an outline of power-driven factory production\ud which commenced in the mid nineteenth century; and, oral history research into factory\ud life and the social lives of people from managing directors, supervisors through to\ud overlockers, linkers, folders, baggers knitters, mechanics, counterman and union\ud officials. The research relies heavily on the wealth of recorded memories carried out\ud over a number of years.\ud Framework knitting degenerated rapidly from a respected craft in the early years into a\ud depressed trade. The framework knitter had little choice but to employ the help of his\ud family in order to eke out a living. Parliamentary Papers highlight the plight of the\ud families. Nevertheless, people were reluctant to change to factory-based production.\ud However, by the 1890s the inevitable change had taken place.\ud The hosiery has dominated and shaped the lives of people in the Hinckley area for\ud generations. Manufacturers followed fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers into\ud the workplace, and whole families were employed in the manufacture of hosiery and\ud knitwear. Manufacturers have highlighted the importance of updating machinery and\ud attending exhibitions and fashion shows in order to remain competitive in an industry\ud dependent on the ‘whims of fashion’. Respondents have provided a unique insight into\ud the types of work and its influence on their lives. They have described the ‘larkingabout’,\ud camaraderie and activities in the workplace as well as highlighting that they not\ud only worked together but played together - the ‘monkey run’, dancing and the cinema\ud have all been discussed.\ud The research has highlighted the unique and dominant nature of the ‘hosiery’ in the\ud Hinckley area. However, the industry has been in decline for a number of years and\ud many of the factories have now been demolished or renovated for housing and\ud apartments

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/7849

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