The Textile Conservation Centre

AHRC Research Centre for Textile Conservation & Textile Studies 2002-2007

The AHRC Research Centre for Textile Conservation and Textiles Studies, 2002-2007, was established in 2002 as an inter-institutional, inter-disciplinary research partnership between the TCC at the University of Southampton and the Universities of Bradford and Manchester. The Centre was funded by an award made by the AHRB (the predecessor to the AHRC) to Dinah Eastop of the TCC; it was the largest award ever made by the AHRB: £984,000. The Research Centre was led firstly by Dinah Eastop and then (from 2004) by Dr Maria Hayward.

The research focused on four main themes: Textile Materials, Textiles and Text, Modern Materials and Worldly Goods. Research milestones included publications, conferences, exhibitions and public outreach. All the milestones were achieved and the Research Centre was assessed as 'outstanding' in the end of award evaluation conducted by external assessors.

It stimulated inter-disciplinary research in textile conservation, conservation science and textile, dress and design history. It worked with partners in the heritage industry to enhance the evidence base for understanding and preserving historic textiles. Innovative links were established between conservators and engineers to monitor the deterioration of tapestries on open display, and X-radiography has been refined for the characterisation of historic textiles. The Deliberately Concealed Garments Project generated world-wide interest via its web-based virtual collection, while traditional textile history attracted extensive press attention with the discovery that Henry VIII had special shoes for playing football. The Research Centre put research into textile conservation and related textile studies firmly on the UK academic map and created a step change in the research culture, as demonstrated by the successes in PhD recruitment and the research programme for practising, mid-career conservators.

The Centre’s three international conferences (and resulting post-prints) highlighted the benefits of object-based research, where insights from material science are integrated with art/historical studies. The conferences were:

Scientific Analysis of Ancient & Historic Textiles. Informing Preservation, Display and Interpretation (2004)

The Future of the Twentieth Century: Collecting, Interpreting and Conserving Modern Materials (2005)

Textiles and Text: Re-establishing the Links Between Archival and Object-Based Research (2006)

In addition, two exhibitions, four websites and international media coverage demonstrated the Centre’s commitment to the public dissemination of research, and the widespread public interest in heritage conservation.

The list of the Research Centre's milestones can be found in the Academic and Public Outcomes section (see menu on left of this page).