About Us

The Long Eaton Guild of Furniture Manufacturers exists to support its members by sharing knowledge and experiences, and promote the centre of excellence and heritage of the local manufacturing community.

The Guild promotes the centre of excellence throughout the general furniture market and in the local community to raise the awareness of perspective customers, suppliers and employees alike. The Guild organise and coordinate such activities as exhibitions, press campaigns, point of sale communications and the web site.



Owing to the expense of hand-made lace, efforts were made during the late 18th century to replicate it by machine. Hand-operated hosiery knitting frames were adapted to produce a net onto which hand-embroidered patterns were sewn to produce ‘lace’. Inventions during the early nineteenth century further modified the machinery to produce twisted (or bobbin) net which more realistically mimicked hand-made lace. Most of this development work was done in the Nottingham area, leading to machine-made lace becoming known as Nottingham lace.

(Photo courtesy of Keith Reedman)


There were nine bobbin lace manufacturers operating hand-powered machines in small workshops in Long Eaton. This small nucleus gradually increased, and by the early 1840s William Bush, who is thought to have come from nearby Beeston, set up business in Long Eaton and about 1843 he built a lace factory in Main Street where his machines were driven by steam power. Bush also built a gas works in Chapel Street to provide good artificial lighting.


The predominantly Leavers type of plain net bobbin machines were fitted with a modification to take a jacquard punched card device to make the mechanically patterned lace with which we are familiar, and which was used extensively in the clothing industry.


Machines were employed in the town which began to develop into the centre of the Leavers lace trade and the town prospered and grew. The census returns between 1851 and 1901, show that the population increased from 1,000 to 13,000 (20,000 including Sawley). Skilled twist hands (lace machine operators), card punchers and lace mechanics moved to the town to take advantage of the many work opportunities available.

Five tenement factories were built during the 1870s and a further five in the 1880s. By 1905 around 800 machines and 1,200 twist hands were at work in the area. Several lace factory owners built fine new houses on Nottingham and Derby Roads and speculative builders built streets full of houses to accommodate the influx of workers.

(Photo courtesy of Keith Reedman)


Before the First World War, demands of the international market caused a boom in the lace trade. Harrington Mill alone contained 255 machine standings and was the largest of all the tenement factories. The standings were rented out, allowing smaller enterprises to flourish. At one point, Harrington Mills housed 26 separate ventures of this type. During the early 20th century, after electricity was made available, Oakley’s, Britannia, Phoenix, Stanley and many other mills were built in a single storey north-light style to be more spacious and with improved lighting. The period before WW1 saw the industry reach its peak.


T­­­­he lace trade experienced a sharp decline, the main reason being a change in fashions. Many of the older machines were scrapped and newer ones sold to overseas buyers. By 1941, only 21 factories were still producing lace.

Lace manufacturing in Long Eaton continued until 2001 when Grangers in New Tythe Street, the last company producing lace, closed down. Perhaps the only reminder of this famous company remaining in the town is one of their creels in regular use at Renaissance Trimmings in Bridge Street, feeding a Rope Walk, built by Lace Mechanics of Long Eaton.

The majority of Nottingham Lace used in the clothing industry was actually produced before the First World War in the Erewash area, with Long Eaton being the main contributor, however, very few people were aware of this at the time.


This history has shaped the identity of the town of Long Eaton. To this day, Long Eaton is recognised world-wide as the centre of excellence when it comes to upholstered furniture. The name is so significant and important that many furniture manufacturers elsewhere in the country have permanent offices and showrooms located in the town, with many more finding somewhere to display their products during the two ‘Long Point’ exhibitions. This legacy all started after the decline of the lace mills, with mills available to use, and an influx of workers looking for jobs. In 2019 there are over 50 upholstery companies in the relatively small area, along with factories supplying frames and springs which add to the manufacturing culture in the home of British upholstery.

Every day is a pun day” – Matt O’Flynn 8th June 1974 – 29th March 2019

Dedicated to Matt O'Flynn

This website has been dedicated to our dear friend and colleague, Matt O’Flynn. Matt was an industry innovator who grew up in Long Eaton and immersed himself in the furniture industry from a young age. His pioneering career, amongst other instrumental positions, saw him serve as chairman of the Long Eaton Guild from 2009-17. In 2018, Matt partnered with long standing friend, Rob Walker, to form Orbital Vision. A creative agency specialising in the interiors industry, which focuses on 3D visualisations, branding, design and web development. Orbital Vision have created this website for the Long Eaton Guild free of charge. The payment that was set aside for this project has been kindly donated by the Guild to St Michael’s Hospice, where Matt received incredible care before sadly passing away in 2019.

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