Forest Mills is located in Radford, Nottingham. It was originally built to produce lace but it has had many uses and has been rebuilt and added to over the years.
The site was acquired by John Lawson Thackeray, who built a lace factory some time in the early to mid 1800's. The Thackeray family, big lace makers in Manchester moved into the Nottingham area but found trouble from riots and sabotage. The industrial revolution was in full flow, machines were putting people out of work. A new movement was formed in 1811, known as the Luddites, by workers from the lace and hosiery industry in and around Nottingham. It quickly spread to other areas of the textile industry. Many weavers lost employment as they could not compete with machines operated by a small unskilled workforce. They started destroying factories and machinery but the government took drastic measures using the militia or army to protect industry. Rioters who were caught were tried and hanged, or transported for life. The 'protests' finally ended in the 1830's
John Thackeray most likely built the mill just after these protests ended. He produced many fine products, the proof came at the 1851 Great Exhibition when his lace thread was awarded with high honours which gained a full order book from clients.
A couple of years later in 1854 John Thackeray became Mayor of Nottingham and again in 1866.
The mill changed over time, it expanded to meet new needs. Many different styles were tacked on, from factory units to a modern office block. A bath house was built 1880 on the east side of the mill. A laundry unit was built in the 1900's along with warehouses and even a garage. An office block was built in the mid 1950's.
In 1950 Thackeray & Sons closed as the demand for lace declined and a failure to upgrade equipment to modern standards.
The factory was broken up into small units, an office block was tacked onto the front of the building. Many small companies started up in the building and flourished for a while. Office space was hired out to groups and organisations. One notable group is called the P.O.W. or the Prostitute Outreach Workers. It was launched in 1990 when local women from the prostitute community volunteered to train as researchers to assess health and intervention needs of prostitute women in a disadvantaged area of the City of Nottingham. It moved to a new location in 2007
The mill and office block now stands empty, its future is unknown. Several arson attacks have been committed on the mill, which has caused the roof and several walls to be removed to make the site safe.