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History of Josery Textiles Ltd                 A brief history of textile manufacturing near  Hucknall


The company started in 1938 less than a mile from our present factory.   During the second world war it re-located to Leicestershire due to links with another company.    After the war the company  returned to Hucknall, but to different premises.   The company was mainly involved in sock manufacturing at this time.

In 1953 it moved again to purpose built premises in Occupation Road, Hucknall, where it continued with sock manufacturing until about 1965.   

At this time Crimplene had been invented and the company expanded it’s premises to accommodate the large diameter circular machines needed to knit Crimplene fabrics.   The fabrics were supplied to many clothing manufacturers in the UK and abroad.   

As Crimplene gradually went out of fashion in the mid 1970’s the focus changed to making sportswear fabrics and garments.   The premises were expanded again to accommodate the garment cutting and making up departments.    Tracksuits and Darts shirts were big selling items through until the late 1970’s.   The recession of the late 1970’s saw sales fall and the Occupation Road premises were sold and the company moved a quarter of a mile to it’s present premises at Benneworth Close in 1982.

Sweatshirts had become fashionable and by about 1986 the company had expanded again putting in state of the art fleece knitting machines to produce sweatshirt fabric.    This enjoyed a long run through to about 2008 when low cost imports made it very difficult to compete.   The company again contracted back into just one relatively small production unit in an effort to “tough out” the very difficult trading conditions for British garment manufacturing.

Today 20 people are employed at Josery, we are involved in knitting fabrics, making garments, machine embroidery and silk screen printing.

A brief history of textiles manufacturing in the vicinity of Hucknall, Nottinghamshire.

Machine knitting was invented by the Revd. William Lee in about 1589 at the village of Calverton which is about 6 miles away from Hucknall.

The original machines or knitting frames produced woollen stockings.   The frames were usually located in cottages and were operated by peasant workers and their families, usually on a part time basis, they probably tended the crops and animals during the day and then spent their evenings knitting, probably by candle light. Their living conditions were undoubtedly  very poor by today’s standards.

Hucknall is close to the River Leen, which had water powered mills dating back as far as the 13th century.   Towards the end of the 18th century some of these mills had converted from their initial purpose of grinding corn to spinning cotton to supply the growing textile demand.   At this time up to 800 people were employed in these mills along the Leen Valley.

In the early 1800’s, as further mechanisation of the knitting process took place, many of the framework knitters were forced out of their livelihood and this led to the Luddite uprising.   Lord Byron, the famous poet of nearby Newstead Abbey, defended the actions of the rebellious framework knitters in his maiden speech in the House of Lords.   

From the 1820’s factories started to appear in Nottingham and by 1855 in Hucknall, some of these eventually employing hundreds of people.   Up until the 1980’s there were still at least 4 large factories in Hucknall, making garments for some very well known brands.

The famous Lace Market area of Nottingham remains largely intact and is well worth a visit for anyone interested in the history of textiles or 19th Century industrial architecture.   

Although our companies roots only extend back 70 years, we are proud of the industrial heritage around us.   The industrial revolution started in the UK at Cromford in Derbyshire, within half an hours drive of Hucknall and there are still many interesting and beautiful places to visit close by.    Please see the links opposite from where we have taken some date references and which provide detailed further information:

A present day garment being embroidered on a Tajima multihead embroidery machine.

A 1970's tracksuit advertising leaflet, most tracksuits were sold through newspaper adverts but some were sold to sports clubs under the Sportswell brand. A darts shirt advert from the late 1970's, which was probably printed in a darts magazine. A cutting of a crimplene fabric which was probably produced in about 1968 A pair of Josery socks with the original packaging.    Probably made in the early 1960's.