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.
1950s M&S fashion show

M&S: Dressed in Time

  • 7 May 2016 11am-3pm

Our history is coming to life.... M&S: Dressed in Time is an extra-special event, you'll have the chance to see outfits from the 1930s to present day brought to life on our own archive catwalk. Including glamorous 1930s leisure wear and cheerful 1950s prints, let our presenter take you through the fascinating story of fashion at M&S. We'll bring you right up to date with pieces from some of our most exciting current archive-inspired collections.

Fashion Show times:





This is a free event, however booking is essential. Please see our website for more details of how to book.


M&S Crimplene magazine advert

Understanding Fashion:Selling not just Clothes but Fashion

  • 10 May 2016 12-1:30pm

This is a unique opportunity to explore fashion advertising, featuring examples from the M&S archive collection including wonderful 1950s and 1960s cinema adverts.

The Understanding Fashion programme looks at our M&S archive clothing collection and explores what fashion reveals about us. This proramme is part of a Humanities in the European Research Area funded project, led by Professor Regina Blaszczyk of the University of Leeds

Booking is essential as places are limited.

Please note that this event will take place in the Media and Communications Cinema, Clothworkers North Building, University of Leeds.


Media and Communications Cinema
Clothworkers North Building
School of Media and Communication
University of Leeds


This is a free event, however booking is essential, please see our website for details of how to book.


Two ladies look at M&S Archive items

Dementia Awareness Week: M&S Company Archive Open Day

  • 19 May 2016 10am-4pm

Especially for Dementia Awareness Week we're hosting an open day for people living with Dementia. Drop in to the Marks in Time exhibition for a chat, get hands on with some objects from the archive and enjoy a cup of tea - our treat!

No need to book, just drop in on the day.


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.