Video: M&S throws open the doors to item-packed Leeds archive

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  • by Paul Robinson

Nostalgia lovers are taking a trip down shopping’s memory lane on Saturday with the help of Marks & Spencer.

The retail giant will throw open the doors to its full company archive, which is based at the University of Leeds.

Visitors to the Michael Marks archive building normally have to confine their exploration of its contents to a free exhibition area called Marks in Time.

But, as part of the Leeds Heritage Open Days programme, guided tours of the whole archive are being held from 10am to 5pm on Saturday. (Sept 14)

Its collection comprises no fewer than 70,000 items from the proud history of M&S.

Speaking ahead of the event, company archivist Katharine Carter said: “People will get a real feel for the strength and breadth of the collection and may even spot some items that they have used and enjoyed in the past.

“Not only will people be able to learn about how M&S has changed over time, but they will also be able to find out about how people’s lives as consumers have changed.

“From 1930s dresses to 1950s hats and gloves and 1970s kaftans, the collection charts changes in society.”

She added: “There’ll also be the opportunity to view some never-seen-before items from our collection.

“We will also be showing visitors how we care for historical items to ensure that they survive for people to enjoy and learn from in the future, so people may even pick up a few hints and tips on how to care for their own treasured items at home.”

The Marks in Time exhibition is normally open from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday.

Archive staff also run heritage trails around key city locations from the firm’s past.

For further information, visit: or ring 0208 718 2800.

* Previously based in London, the M&S archive moved to the Michael Marks building on the University of Leeds’s western campus, off Clarendon Road, in March last year.

The M&S story began in 1884 when Michael Marks opened a stall at Leeds’s Kirkgate Market with a sign next to it famously saying “Don’t ask the price, it’s a penny”.




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