Robert and Edward on twilight of a great industry in their home town
THE story of lace is one of triumph and eventual decline. It's one of technology and desperate poverty.
And it is a story of Nottingham and the East Midlands.
Now a new film charts that history. The Lacemakers: The Forgotten Story Of English Lace is being shown tomorrow at the Broadway Cinema as part of Nottingham Trent University's Lace: Here And Now Season. It will be introduced by its narrator, Ilkeston-born actor Robert Lindsay.
Filmmaker Edward Jarvis also originally comes from Ilkeston and he says Robert's personal knowledge of the topic drew him to the film.
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"The fate of Ilkeston is something that I've always been keenly aware of," Robert said. "It's a place full of community spirit, its people open and friendly and full of aspirations like anybody else. It's been almost bewildering watching it slowly disintegrate as its industries have closed.
"It's because of this that I decided to do this film."
The film breaks down how globalisation has meant that textile industries such as lace haven't just disappeared from Ilkeston, Nottingham and the Midlands – they've largely disappeared from the west. It starts in the Industrial Revolution and charts progress and technology that changed the way people dressed and lived. It shows more people being able to afford nice things like lace and how Nottingham and its surrounding area became the centre for a now-global trade.
And it shows the decline.
For former Post journalist Ed, the things that happened to his home made it a story one he couldn't pass up.
"Despite the incredible stoicism of many of the people who live there, things aren't getting any better," he said. "Yet this story is not part of the national conversation. This film is my response to that."
The story is a personal one.
"As a child I well remember the sounds of the lace factories," he said. "I can still vividly recall going to visit one of the dye houses and the grizzled old workman who patiently explained the process to me.
"Many years later, when I saw the lace machines lined up inside Cluny Lace, the factory at the bottom of the road where I grew up, I just knew I had to make a film about them.
"It was only really then that I discovered the story behind the Leavers machines and their role in transforming the area. Of course it's all pretty much disappeared. It seems obvious to me that something completely traumatic has occurred and for me it's impossible to ignore. It was the backdrop to my childhood and is evident every time I return to see my family."