For centuries Hucknall rang to the clicking and clacking sound of knitting frames. Families worked together in their own homes and in larger ‘factories’ to produce stockings. By the beginning of the 19th century conditions were so poor that the knitters took direct action against the frame owners. The frame-breakers became known as the Luddites.
A Local Invention: The knitting frame was invented by Rev. William Lee of Calverton, Notts. He designed it to increase the production of stockings which had previously been hand knitted. Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire became the major centre for stocking frames laying the foundation of the industrialised hosiery industry of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Working From Home: Framework knitting was a domestic activity. All over south Notts. you will find framework knitters cottages, recognisable by their long windows to let in the maximum amount of light to the upper floor workshop. There were about 15000 knitting frames in Notts. in the 1800s.
Luddites – were they anti-new technology?: The introduction of a wider frame using unskilled labour was one concern, but the frame-breakers were smashing up the types of machine they themselves were familiar with.
Seven Mile House – A Mass Luddite Raid: On 13th November 1811, around 1000 Luddites, a large number from Hucknall gathered at the Seventh Milestone (now on the A60 at Papplewick). The Luddites marched on Sutton-in-Ashfield arriving at dusk. Up to 70 frames were smashed.