Marks in Time Exhibition: M&S Company Archive

Exploring the Marks in Time Exhibition, M&S Company Archive
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Did you know M&S was born in Leeds?

Discover our story and unlock the fascinating journey that has made M&S one of Britain’s best loved retailers. Explore our Marks In Time Exhibition and uncover some fascinating facts from over 130 years of M&S history:

Did you know that we sold our first bra in 1926?
How about that our scientists worked with the government during WW2 to help with rationing strategy?
Or even that when we were one of the first to introduce ‘avocado pears’ in 1959 one customer tried to serve it as a dessert with custard?

From the clothes we wear to the food we eat the Marks In Time Exhibition showcases the M&S Company Archive collection, tracking the development of the business from 1884 to the present day. From Boardroom battles to staff welfare, from puddings to pants, the exhibition vividly shows the impact M&S has had on the social history of Britain since the first Penny Bazaar stall at Leeds Kirkgate Market.

Free attraction
We are completely free to visit so pop in to start your journey and find out more about our rich heritage. You can explore clothing, merchandise, old photographs, vintage films and rare documents. It’s all part of our interactive exhibition telling the M&S story.

Group visitors
Start your journey with one of our three itineraries, featuring guided exhibition tours, a choice of expert talks and free hot drinks, and get a unique insight into the history of one of Britain's best loved retailers. See our website for more information or to download our Group Travel pack.
Groups also have the option to take our award winning M&S Heritage Trail. Bringing together the rich M&S history in the city, the Trail takes visitors from the archive to our unique heritage stall in Leeds Kirkgate Market (or vice versa). Find out more information about the Trail here.
Finally, don’t miss our inspirational temporary exhibitions showcasing a range of previously unseen items linking to themes from our varied events programme.

About the M&S Company Archive collection:
The archive contains one of the richest retail history collections in the country, charting the development of one of Britain’s best-loved high street names. The collection of over 70,000 items dating from 1884 includes documents, reports, letters, speeches, employee magazines, annual reports, advertising material, photographs, films, oral history recordings, clothing, food packaging and merchandise from the days of the Penny Bazaar to the present.

Now open to the public, researchers from all walks of life have the opportunity of direct access to the collection through our bookable reading room service. See our website for more details.

Venue Type:

Archive, Heritage site, Museum

Opening hours

Open Monday - Friday: 10:00am - 5:00pm
Saturdays: Closed except for special events
Sundays and Bank Holidays: Closed

Admission charges

The exhibition is free of charge.

The Reading Room is also free to use for research purposes, please book in advance as space is limited.

Getting there

For detailed travel directions please see the Contact Us section of our website

Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Sun & Swimsuits

Archivist's Talk- Style for the Sun: Swimwear at M&S

  • 18 May 2017 From 10:30am

From knitted woolen costumes in the 1930s to the body-enhancing swimwear of the 1990s, see how the latest innovations and designs have resulted in swimwear that's fashionable and practical.


Checked Suits

Archivist's Talk: M&S Milestones

  • 7 June 2017 From 12:30pm

It's not just the archive celebrating a special birthday! Discover key M&S innovations and milestones that the company is celebrating in 2017. From the introduction of tights, men's suits and machine washable wool to the launch of Plan A, our commitment to become the world's most sustainable retailer.


Archive Pop-up

Archive On Tour: Pop-up Archive in Manchester

  • 17 June 2017 10am-9pm

We're popping up in Manchester to share vintage M&S fashions, fascinating facts and fabulous photos with Trafford Centre shoppers. Come and say hello to indulge in some vintage St Michael dress up, plus your chance to win with our special prize draw!


1950s Skirts

Rock around the Frock

  • 8 July 2017 11am-3pm

The 1950s: Glamour came bouncing back and M&S embraced the optimism of the decade bringing new fabrics and the New Look to the high street. Join us for rock'n'roll dance classes, previously unseen 50s fashions, hair and make-up demos and special screenings of our wonderful 1950s cinema adverts - complete with popcorn!


Getting there

For detailed travel directions please see the Contact Us section of our website

Marks in Time Exhibition: M&S Company Archive
Michael Marks Building, University of Leeds, off Clarendon Road
West Yorkshire




020 8718 2800

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.