HERE is a set of wonderful old images to give a leg-up to a new campaign being run by Museums Worcestershire with the whole hearted support of the Museums Association.

Called A Glove Affair, it will create a lasting legacy to Worcester’s glove trade and the thousands of people it once employed.

A call has gone out for anyone with any memories or anecdotes of the trade, either personal or via family or friends, to contact Museums Worcestershire on Facebook or Twitter, both or which forms of communication were but a far away twinkle in the electronic universe when the glove industry was at its height in the city.

The last of the major Worcester glove firms, Dent, Fownes Ltd – a merger of two 200 year old businesses – closed in the mid-1970s and the old factory on City Walls Road was eventually converted into a smart hotel, but even that was a century and a half away from when the city was one of the glove making capitals of Europe.

The decades of “glove mania” in Worcester were between the 1790s and the 1820s when it had more than 150 glove manufacturers employing more than 20,000 workers and producing 7.2m pairs a year. Such was the phenomenal growth in the industry the city’s population virtually doubled in 20 years. At the time around 60,000 people were employed in gloving in the UK, at least half of them in Worcestershire.

The story goes the glove boom was fired by Napoleon Bonaparte, who, as well as being a soldier, was something of a fashion icon, creating various “must haves” among the rich and aspiring classes of the Industrial Revolution, including the wearing of fine gloves.

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But the history of the trade dates back a lot farther than even that, around 700 years in fact, and Worcester had a “glove makers” street in the 13th century. It was largely rebuilt in the 17th century and is now New Street. Worcester also had a Glovers Guild from 1497.

Sadly the industry suffered two major declines, the first of which came in 1826 when the UK ban on imported gloves was lifted and the second happened in the Swinging Sixties of the 20th century when the fashion for glove wearing declined rapidly. It was bad news in Worcester, where in 1935 Fownes had featured in a Worcester Evening News story which headlined the firm was “overloaded with work” and contained the strange statistic that it produced “20,000 dozen” -more commonly 240,000 - pairs a year.

However 30 years later the company’s chairman and managing director James Croft, who was also a leading Worcester City councillor of the day, decided to undertake a drumbeating world trip in an effort to increase flagging sales. It went slightly pear shaped when he stopped off in Australia and berated the local men for not wearing fashion gloves. “It’s a tragedy,” Mr Croft complained. “Gloves are ‘in’ for men.” Surprisingly he got out of Sydney airport alive.