Hosier's House (LE1)
- Streetview (the closest that Streetview gets!)
A very important part of Leicester's history, hosiery has been made in Leicester since about 1650. This was a Master Hosier's house with workshops attached, built in about 1850.
The first knitting machine was invented in 1589. For around the next 300 years workers produced goods in homes and workshops on individual hand frames. The modern knitting industry started in the mid-1800s and by 1891, 95% of knitted goods were produced in factories.
People travelled from across the country to work in Leicestershire's hosiery industry. In 1920, Leicester advertised that its workforce was 'far above average in skill, industry and intelligence' - certainly it was relatively prosperous due the diversity of its industry. Even during the depression of the 1930s, a redundant hosiery worker stood a chance of finding work with another company. Hosiery jobs in the East Midlands increased from around 50,000 in 1911 to 77,000 in 1939.
Leicester was not only seen by some as a 'boom' city, it was also seen as a 'women's city', due to there being many more women than men employed in the hosiery industry. Of course, men's work often paid higher rates, but the system of piecework sometimes enabled a woman to earn more than her husband.
A Worker's Tale
'In 1928, when I first started, it was eight until six and Saturday morning, for 10/- (50p) a week. And you had no breaks or nothing, you just had to take a flask and drink it at your machine or whatever you were doing, you know, your cup. But later on as things progressed and the unions became involved, then we got tea breaks and we also got, we had holidays with no pay whatsoever in those days.'