|Thursday 23, May 2013|
ULITA's HistoryJohn and Roberts Beaumont, the first Professors in the Department of Textile Industries of the Yorkshire College, later to become the University of Leeds, began to collect fabric samples, pattern books and folios to use as teaching resources for students of woven textile design. In 1892 the items contained in the collection had increased in size and importance so much that a donation by the Clothworkers' Company allowed for the provision of a Museum, which in 1895 gained its first curator in Miss Clara Benton.
Local textiles firms gave samples and working models to the early museum, whilst the Beaumonts and other professors, most notably Professor Aldred Barker, as well as students and associates, continued to collect items on their travels. The museum was claimed to be the only museum of its kind in the country with the exception of that in South Kensington.
See recent project work on the archival documents and photographs from the Department.
St.Wilfred's ChapelDepartment of Textile Industries, it is to another nineteenth century initiative that we owe our home. Leeds Grammar School built the chapel in 1863. Its architect, Edward Barry, created an accomplished re-working of the Decorated Gothic style of the Middle Ages. Built of local sandstone, and with a steeply pitched roof, the main windows have ornate curving tracery. Carving embellished the exterior, with open turrets crowning the four corners. The beautiful east window, depicting the heavens and weather, is complemented by two small abstract windows designed by Lawrence Stanley Lee in the mid 1960s.
Heritage Lottery Fund, the Clothworkers’ Foundation, the Arnold Burton Trust, the Wolfson Foundation and the University of Leeds the collections have been moved from cramped accomodation with no public access to their present location.
A key feature of the design is the construction of a building within a building, a conservation ark, providing an ideal environment for textiles. It takes its inspiration from the silk worm, which spins a cocoon for its own protection. It creates a modern interior, whilst maintaining the elegance of the Gothic Revival interior. As well as dedicated storage, the design has specially designed display cabinets, making it possible to display ULITA’s aesthetically rich resources.
The Archive Today
ULITA now holds a world wide collection of textiles,including pattern books of nineteenth and twentieth century industrially produced printed and woven textile samples, Qing dynasty silk embroideries and woven tapestries, Kashmir and Paisley shawls, Mediterranean and near East embroideries, hand-block-printed and resist-patterned cottons from Pakistan, Javanese batiks, modern British woven and printed fabrics, fibre and yarn samples, glass photographic plates of textile machinery, and textile design work.
In 2008 ULITA, with funding from the AHRC and The Clothworkers’ Foundation, embarked on a major programme of work to catalogue, document and conserve the major collections. The Clothworkers' Documentation and Conservation Project at ULITA 2008-2010 details the work on eight of these collections.