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National Trust Heritage Festival Exhibition 2023 Titled Shared Stories – Textiles of Lithgow: Handmade to Factory Industries 

To celebrate the Shared Stories theme of this year’s National Trust Heritage Festival, Eskbank House Museum has developed an exhibition of textile related collection objects including samplers and embroidery, underwear and handbags, blankets and quilts, tools and machinery.

The exhibition will run from 11 April to 4 June 2023 and feature the nationally significant Sutton/Leake Crazy Patchwork Quilt, handmade c.1893 by members of the Leake family in Pennsylvania, USA and brought to Australia by David Leake in 1924, for his daughter Emma Sutton (nee Leake) to celebrate the birth of her first child, Jean Hutchinson (nee Sutton), b.1921.

Other objects relating to Emma Sutton and the family on display include hand embroidered pillow cases, a handmade evening bag and another beautiful evening bag with a tortoiseshell handle. Also on exhibition is a sewing sampler by Sarah Wildgoose, aged 8 in 1852. Usually hung in the Eskbank House child’s bedroom, this framed needlework will be displayed in the courtyard gallery area for up close inspection by visitors. Continuing the textile theme are many objects from the Lithgow Woollen Mills, including Andrew Brown inscribed books presented to school children, corsetry from the Berlei textile factory and many handmade and repaired items of clothing.

During the festival Eskbank House Museum will also explore the textile industry history of Lithgow by asking the community to come forward with shared stories, memorabilia and photographs not currently represented in the Museum collection.  On 24 April 1947 the Lithgow Mercury reported on six new industries opening and a major expansion of the Lithgow Woollen Mills, with the headlines ‘History is Made In And By Lithgow (and) Decentralisation Is Key To Australian Progress’, the article mentions Berlei, Jeldi, Gladis Grieve. Lithgow Box Service, Lithgow Woollen Mills, Lithgow Shirt Manufacturing Co. and Connelly’s (ladies lingerie factory). These industries were drawn to Lithgow for ‘….particularly female labour.’ potential (LM 24 Apr. 1947 p.6).

Visit Lithgow City Council, Eskbank House Museum and Seven Valleys Tourism websites for information and details of specific Textile Workshops and Shared Stories guest speaker events happening during the festival and Eskbank House Museum Facebook page for ongoing highlights of the exhibition.

Image: Conservator Tegan Anthes, Lithgow City Council’s Museums Advisor, and Volunteer Sandra Hutchison preparing to display the Nationally significant Sutton/Leake Quilt

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