History Group

The History Group always welcomes all U3A members. Our indoor meetings are held at Central Methodist Church on the 3rd Wednesday of the month commencing at 2.00 pm. Money paid for the trip to Richard lll will be safe in the U3A bank until we can re-arrange later on. We are starting fresh in September (X fingers) Watch this space!


I think most of you know that I was invited to speak to you after the April AGM when the title given was ‘Stories from in and around Hucknall’. I did ask if some of you would think of questions to help me decide what to talk about. Now – let me ask you a question- do you think Hucknall had a connection with Siberia – if so what?

A member did ask why orenburg shawls were made in Hucknall. Is orenburg a place I wondered? Checking the internet I discover that Orenburg is a Russian city, on the river Ural, on the boundary between Europe and Asia with a bridge connecting the two sides. It is close to the border with Kazakhstan in the south Siberian forest steppe. The city is famous for its Orenburg shawls of the thinnest lacy design knitted by hand and cobweb-like kerchiefs called pautinkas. Interesting facts – Yuri Gagarin – Cosmonaut was born there and it is twined with Orlando United States.

In the 1850s a hand knitted fall was brought to Hucknall from Shetland and the local framework knitters were asked if they could make something similar. Of course these skilful artisans were able to adapt their machines to this new type of work and Shetland shawls continued to be made here for 150 years. Then, about 1884, Henry Rhodes introduced the manufacture of Orenburg Shawls imitating the knitting of the peasant women in Western Russia. (Had he been to Russia?) “So fine is this work that a shawl measuring 2 yards square can be pulled through a finger ring”. Again Hucknall work people took up the challenge and altered machinery to create inimitable new textile designs.

Note:- In the Shetland Islands a ‘fall’ (see above) was a lacy veil to keep flies off babies faces.

SOURCES:- Internet for Orenburg; History of Hucknall Torkard by Beardsmore; Factories & Fabrics (Hucknall Textiles) by M. Newton

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