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Hurts shawl factory, from Chilwell High Road

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:Chilwell High Road
:Hurts shawl factory, from Chilwell High Road
:Beeston and District Civic Society
:Beeston and District Civic Society
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G H Hurt is a knitting business steeped in history, which still produces top-quality knitted goods, lace shawls and wraps. The factory dates from 1781, and blends old and new technology, with modern machines working alongside hand frames designed 400 years ago! (Free tours of the works are available). Shawls were manufactured in large numbers in the Beeston and Chilwell areas. Frank Wilkinson in Beeston and William Limb in Chilwell, both natives of Hucknall as well as Hurt, were particularly successful hosiery entrepreneurs during the Victorian period. Shawls had been worn by the poorer members of society for centuries, but became a fashion item from the georgian period having a practical use for warmth at a time when coal fires provides localised heat, and ladies might require a cover-up. Throughout the Regency Era the lightweight robes needed other garments or accessories to make the wearer warmer. Tulle shawls which were delicate and light particularly suited fine evening dresses. White muslin and lace net shawls embroidered with tambour work were popular with the higher classes, but shawls were also a cheap and simple working class garment. Originally shawls, particularly silk and kashmir had been imported from the ever expanding empire, but eventually a tax on these meant the shawls were copied by manufacturers in Britain and especially by the towns of Paisley and Norwich. Paisley made reversible shawls with the distinctive kashmir/Indian pattern. Firstly they were woven, but later to cut costs and beat competition Norwich started to print the shawls. The textile factories of the east midland were not slow to take up the industry. By 1886 Wilkinson's Beeston factory, although primarily a lacemaking enterprise, had 70 frames making Sheltand shawls, and a Hucknall firm exported vast quantities to Russia. By the Edwardian Era even cheaper printed paisley shawls bought for shillings were worn solely by the lower classes. The once sought after items had become so watered down and universally changed from a true Kashmir shawl that the upper class ladies rejected them. The fashion for shawls had declined by the early 1900's though there are pictures on the web site showing the elderly, poor or mill workers of Glossop wearing them up to the 1930's. See DCAV000459, DCHP000037 and NCCC000900 or enter SHAWL as a keyword on the web-site to see photographs of women wearing shawls.