Ilkeston-born TV star backs film on lace

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A local film-maker has brought the history of lace manufacturing in Ilkeston to life on the big screen with the help of one of the town’s most famous sons, actor Robert Lindsay.

Lacemaking played a major part in Ilkeston’s industrial heritage but now only one such company remains in the town, Cluny Lace.

Widespread closure of lace factories left a hole in the town which some say has never been filled.

Now Ilkeston journalist and film-maker Edward Jarvis has made a documentary on the very subject, narrated by Lindsay.

The Lacemakers: The Forgotten Story of English Lace has been introduced by the well-known actor and screened at Nottingham’s Broadway Cinema.

It tells the story of how the wealth created by lace during the Industrial Revolution helped build the city of Nottingham and surrounding towns such as Ilkeston and provided many jobs for local men and women.

The feature-length documentary also chronicles the lace industry’s decline, a process that has accelerated in the last few decades due to the effects of cheaper manufacturing abroad.

Edward, 43, who grew up very close to Cluny Lace, which is based on Belper Street, said: “As a child I well remember the sounds of the lace factories.

“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.”

After leaving Michael House School, Edward took a part-time A-Level at South East Derbyshire College and went on to attend Nottingham Trent University.

He worked at a regional daily newspaper and then as a researcher for Channel 4 News.

He added: “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.”

Film narrator Robert Lindsay was born in Ilkeston and is famous for his roles on stage and TV, including as Ben Harper in the hit show My Family.

He added: “The fate of Ilkeston is something that I’ve always been keenly aware of. It’s a place full of community spirit, its people are 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, to tell the story of the town and what’s happened to it.”

Another screening of the documentary has been scheduled at Nottingham’s Broadway Cinema on May 5.

For more information about the film visit