Saturday, 14 September 2013

Heritage Open Day :: G.H. Hurt & Son

What a treat I had today.  It was Heritage Open Days in the UK.  Many hidden gems throwing open their doors and revealing their secrets inside.  I went to my birth town in Nottingham to visit G.H. Hurt and Son, a fine knitwear lace factory in Chilwell.

Fondly known as 'the shawl factory' and established in a former seed mill in 1912.  I only heard about this place a few years ago and so was very excited to have the opportunity to have a look inside and I wasn't disappointed.

Come take a look at what lay within...


This  is the detail of the hooks on the automatic machines.  Hundreds of tiny little finger like hooks
One of the automatic machines at work
Chevrons patterns produced from beneath the machine.  If you look on their website you will see this one is for a baby shawl
 A sample piece from one of the vintage framework machines
Upstairs in the finishing room, this lady explained that she was stitching on labels to these shawls which were destined for Japan. The machine she was using was an industrial, almost identical to the one I have at home
  One of the vintage framework hand machines
Close up of the detail of one of the shawls
This lady was overlocking baby shawls.  This machine also cuts the blanket too giving them a neat finishing.  She mentioned that these shawls might be destined for Harrods
 Colour absolutely everywhere...
I cannot believe that this place is here.  How did I miss this for so long?  Nottingham is my birth town, although I have not lived there for a long time, I visit regularly as my dad lives only a couple of miles away from this hidden beauty.  I have recently found out that I come from a long line of ancestors, who were framework knitters, from the Hucknall area of Nottingham, one even had the grand title of a 'Jacker off'.  A very knowledgable PhD student explained that this role involved removing the knitted piece off the machine and passing it on to the finisher.

I should love to have a go on one of those old framework machines but I am told it takes many years to learn how to master them and sadly the number of people skilled in using them is diminishing. 
On another note, I have discovered that the studio I work in, originally belonged to a person called James Vann  part of a family of prosperous Wigston Hosiers. There is a framework knitting museum in Wigston so I am going to explore this further to see if there is a connection between the two.
On the way out of the Shawl Factory today, we asked if they are having more open days.  None were planned but they did say their shop was open Saturday mornings for a couple of hours. Their shawls adorn the rich and famous and even the odd royal baby or two. I think I may have to go back and treat myself when the place is less busy!

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