Clarks of Retford – Dyeing, Dry Cleaning and Laundering Business deposit film with Full Circle…….


Bill Clark is the 6th generation of a long line of Clarks whose ancester, Hezekiah, established an early dyeing business in Retford in 1798. Dry cleaning and laundering developed necessitating a move to what became Hallcroft Works in Retford.Bill has searched his attic and found  reels of film relating to the Clark dyeing and dry cleaning business – he is depositing these with Full Circle at MACE. We will be making copies of these reels of 16mm film onto DVD and making them available for viewing.Just one of over 100 laundry and dry cleaning shops that were part of the Clark industry. The Clarks were responsible for developing the early stages of dyeing non natural fabrics like Rayon.

Bill still has his father’s Bell and Howell 16mm film projector in full working order!The business all started when Hezekiah Clark came from Derby in the 1780s to work at the Revolution Mill as a dyer. After that failed he set up on  his own as a dyer in Retford in 1798.Bill inherited this film collection from his Father. His Father made films of the dry cleaning and dyeing business,  holidays, family weddings from the 1930s to the 1970s, local scenes e.g. of St Saviour’s at Retford, the Easter Market at Retford and other footage that is not labelled. There are many reels of film that need assessing and cataloguing and Bill and Jennifer will be booking sessions to view some of their films at the MACE viewing room, when we move to new premises at the University of Lincoln.Retford Civic Society are in the process of commissioning a wall mural commemorating some  historical aspects of Retford and reference to the Clark Laundry will be featured. Another reference to the Clark industry is in the street name: “Dyers Court” in Retford. The photo below shows the well being  dug which supplied water for the Dye works at Grove Street, Retford.
These photos are taken from Bill’s manuscript: ‘Retford and District Historical and Archaeological Society Review 40th Anniversary Issue (1967 – 2007)’. Bill has a great story to tell and will be working on another manuscript soon.

Bill has kept his father’s 16mm Bolex cine camera which is still in working condition and  ran on clockwork.


Film is an important part of our heritage and we would love to hear from you if you have any reels of  film hidden away in cupboards, drawers, sheds or attics and are not sure what to do with them. Depositing them with a film archive is probably the best thing for the films as they will be stored in proper archival conditions and will be kept safely for future generations to enjoy.

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9 thoughts on “Clarks of Retford – Dyeing, Dry Cleaning and Laundering Business deposit film with Full Circle…….

  1. Hello,We were searching your website for any pictures of William Escot Cole an employee of CLARKS.My wife Helen McCombe is his daughter.Are you able to help?. We accessed Bassetlaw Museum archives but were unlucky. Andrew McCombe

    • Hello Andrew
      Although we (the film archive) don’t have any more photos of Clarks. I could ask William Clark the owner, who we are in contact with, if he has any in his archive if you like?

  2. Do you know which part of Clark’s was used by the Air Ministry from 5 Sept 1942 to 1 Oct 1945 as No.207 Maintenance Unit, Equipment PArk serving units in the north-east of England ?

      • Hello Graham Here is a response to your question: “The Air Ministry built a large steel framed/corrugated iron sheet building on the Hallcroft Road frontage of Hallcroft Works adjacent to the Clark’s Post Office. This was where all the incoming forces laundry and dry cleaning was sorted prior to processing in the main works after which it was dispatched from the same building to various parts of the North East of England. The building was eventually demolished in the early 1950’s. I hope you find this useful Best wishes Kay

    • Hello Graham
      I contacted the Clarks and they have responded with this information:
      The Air Ministry built a large steel framed/corrugated iron sheet
      building on the Hallcroft Road frontage of Hallcroft Works adjacent to the Clark’s Post Office. This was where all the incoming forces laundry and dry cleaning was sorted prior to processing in the main works after which it was dispatched from the same building to various parts of the North East of England. The building was eventually demolished in the early 1950’s
      Hope you find this useful.
      Kay

  3. looking forward to seeing the dvd, when will it be available to purchase or see, as an ex employee I think the clarks of retford mural is amazing congratulations to all involved.

    • Hello Jayne
      Thanks for your comments – I am not sure if we will be publishing a DVD of this material, but we will certainly be putting some clips of the footage up on our online database in 2012.
      Kay

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