Marks in Time Exhibition: M&S Company Archive

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

logo: Museums at Night




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.
Exploring the Marks in Time Exhibition, M&S Company Archive
baby changing facilities icon Shop icon Study area icon Wheelchair access icon

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! From January 2015 we will be showcasing a range of previously unseen items focusing on the theme of design and linking to our new Marks in Time Talk Series, part of our varied events programme - see our website for more details .

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.
Decades Day - 1920s and 30s

Flappers, Fringes and Golden Sparks: M&S in the ‘20s and ‘30s

  • 18 April 2015 11am-3pm

Join us for a day of 1920s and 30s glamour and sophistication. Discover how M&S transformed itself from the days of the penny bazaar into a popular department store with displays of some of our earliest clothing and homeware. Channel your inner flapper and have a go at a cheeky Charleston. Complete your look with an incredible vintage make over before entering our best dressed competition – with a prize up for grabs.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


FREE ENTRY and no need to book


Design at M&S in the 60s and 70s

Marks in Time Talk Series: Daphne Padden: Art & Design in 1960s and 70s

  • 24 April 2015 12:30-2pm

Susannah Walker will talk about the Artist and Designer Daphne Padden who designed packaging for M&S in the 1960s and 70s.


Booking essential as places are limited, entry is £3 to include M&S buffet lunch. To book please contact us.


Artist's impression of M&S Market Hall Bazaar c1890

Marks in Time Live: After Hours

  • 14 May 2015 6:30-9:30pm

As part of Museums at Night 2015 visitors will get the chance to meet characters from M&S’ past to tell the story of the companies earliest days from the place where the story began. Visitors will be entertained by live music from the era and can enjoy some light refreshment at our vintage tearoom.

Suitable for

  • 11-13
  • 14-15
  • 16-17
  • 18+


Leeds Kirkgate Market
28-34 George Street
West Yorkshire


Free event, book tickets at eventbrite


Getting there

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