Manufacturing Pasts: Leicester’s 20th Century Transformation

Posted by pt91 at May 01, 2013 12:09 PM |
Collaborative project with the University of Leicester illustrates industrial change in post-war Britain through innovative online resource bank

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 1 May 2013

A heritage project chronicling Leicester’s post-war industrial boom has been launched online.

It opens up for the first time over 1,700 digital resources to the public, helping to tell the story of life in Britain’s major industrial cities during this period.

Manufacturing Pasts, a collaborative project between the University of Leicester and the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland, has created a diverse set of online resources illustrating the industrial changes that transformed Leicester over the latter half of the 20th Century.

Following 1945, Britain’s towns and cities altered more dramatically than at any period since the industrial revolution with Leicester as a powerful example of these changes.

Users are now able to access a vast array of primary sources online including photographs, maps, architectural drawings, interviews, company publications and newspaper articles, as well as learning materials in the form of videos, visual guides and selected historical sources.

The project, which is sponsored by Jisc, traces Leicester’s major industrial changes over four major themes: Deindustrialization, Conservation and Regeneration, Social Life of the Factory and The Factory and the Community.

All the resources have been released under a Creative Commons open licence (CC BY-NC).  This means that they can be re-used and adapted by anyone, providing the creator of the work is acknowledged and the use is for non-commercial purposes.

Simon Gunn, Professor of Urban History at the University of Leicester and contributor to the project, comments:

“Go into any major library and you will find lots of books on British industrial cities during the nineteenth century.  But you will be hard pressed to find much on the 1930s onwards.  Manufacturing Pasts fills that gap.

“Having these materials online has all sorts of other benefits as well, such as seeing connections between different kinds of historical sources that you might not otherwise notice – between maps and photographs, for example.

“Manufacturing Pasts is relevant to higher education students at all levels – supporting both dissertations and projects exploring one of the historical themes.”

Paola Marchionni, Programme Manager Digitisation at Jisc says:

“Manufacturing Pasts is a great example of partnership work that has brought together knowledge and expertise from historians, librarians, archivists and learning technologists in the creation of versatile digital resources.

“The team has done an excellent job in providing easy access to both primary historical material as well as contextual background through imaginative resources such as virtual tours, timelines, videos, and cleverly used PowerPoint presentations.

“This project has opened up material to a variety of users, from undergraduate and postgraduate students to colleges, local groups and historians, and has already attracted a good degree of public interest.”

Manufacturing Pasts featured at a conference about Leicester’s industrial past, present and future on 27 April organised by the University of Leicester and the Leicestershire Industrial History Society.  It will also be presented at the Transformation of Urban Britain conference which takes place at the University of Leicester from 9 – 10 July.

For more information, please click here. Selected resources from Manufacturing Pasts can also be viewed on the University of Leicester’s new iTunes U site.


Notes to editors

Manufacturing Pasts was a collaborative project between the University of Leicester and the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland.  It was led by Ben Wynne, Head of Library Academic Liaison at the University of Leicester and managed by Tania Rowlett from the University’s Library, with academic leadership from Professor Simon Gunn and Dr. Rebecca Madgin of the University of Leicester’s Centre for Urban History.  The learning resources were created by Terese Bird of the University’s Institute for Learning Innovation.  Archival expertise was provided by Adam Goodwin at the Record Office.

The historical sources were selected from the Record Office and the Joan Skinner collection at the University of Leicester Library.

Jisc is an independent education charity, owned by the Association of Colleges (AoC), GuildHE and Universities UK (UUK). It provides UK higher education, further education and skills sectors support on the use of digital technologies. It provides advice and guidance through Jisc Advance and owns a subsidiary company, Jisc Collections and Janet Limited, which provides an academic telecommunications network infrastructure and content services for over 18 million users across the UK.

For more information about the project, contact Ben Wynne on: 0116 252 5048

Share this page:

Older press releases

For press releases issued before 4 October 2010, please visit the old eBulletin site.

Get in touch

T: +44 (0)116 252 2160


The Press Office is open 9.00am-5.00pm, Monday to Friday.

For general enquiries about the University, contact the main switchboard on +44 (0)116 252 2522.