The Lace Industry in Bingham

Census and directory information shows that there was significant activity in Bingham in the early 19th century connected with lace making. In particular mention is made of lace runners, stocking frame knitters, bobbin net makers and lace agents. We hope to piece together a broader picture from these fragments.

Lace Runners

The 1841 census, in particular, for Bingham mentions 48 ‘lace runners’. In 1851 there were 23 and 11 lace workers. Later censuses tend to talk of lace workers not runners, so BHTA wondered what these were. By 1871 only one lace runner is recorded and 16 lace workers but in 1881 36 lace hands, which sounds more factory like, were recorded - perhaps by now commuting into Nottingham by rail..
A lace expert we contacted over the Internet told us:

“The term lace runner applies to the machine-made lace industry which is also very strong in the Nottingham area (it's still well known for quality machine-made laces).
Originally, machines making lace were unable to duplicate a design feature in handmade laces known as a "gimp," The gimp is a heavy thread which outlines certain parts of the design of laces. Since the machine was unable to work the gimp in during its weaving, "lace runners" were employed to embroider (or run) the gimps into the laces after they were woven.

Interestingly, as time wore on and machines were invented that could incorporate the gimp as it was made (long after your 1840's research). However, lace runners were still employed, but their job was more likely to tidy up the ends of the laces after they were cut from the machines.”

Thus it is entirely possible lace runners were outworkers, possibly supplied with work by Lace Agents such as John Mabbott, of Needham Street (1841 and 1851) and Ann Padgett of Newgate Street (1851)

Edith Sharp (who could remember to about 1850) in a memoir lodged in Bingham Library recalls:

“At one time there were quite a number of Framework Knitters or Stockingers. One could easily tell where they lived because the rooms where they worked had extra large windows and you could hear the burring of their machines. The last two stockingers were Mr Thomas Baxter and Mr Scothern, both were cripples. Lace was brought from Nottingham factories for women to clip on the threads of the patterns which had been worked on the machines. ‘Home Work’ was also carried out on hosiery garments.” The 1841 census lists 58 stocking makers and ten FWK (Framework Knitters), with 48 in 1851, 14 in 1871 and by 1881 there were just three.

Bobbin Net making.

Bobbin net is the close-mesh netting on which patterns are then woven by lace working. In the early nineteenth century bobbin net was made on a small machine which would have been used in a workshop or home environment. Towards the middle of the century larger machines were constructed and operated in factories, leading to the speedy demise of home or small workshop activity.

In 1828 and 1830 and three bobbin net makers were listed in the trade directory -

Clifton & Esdaile in Market Place (1832 just Andrew Esdaile – later a watchmaker and historian of Bingham)
Joseph Oliver in Long Acre (in what is now the post office), who was chiefly a wine and spirit merchant.
John Wright in Union Street (1832 John junior).

A fourth appeared in 1832

Thomas Hollingworth, Long Acre (1832)

By 1844 references to bobbin net making in Bingham had disappeared.

More information is required, so if you have any please contact us through our e-mail facility.

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