Player's please — archive project to shed light on company's history

23 Nov 2009 15:14:00.000

PA 303/09

Like Raleigh and Boots, John Player and Sons is one of the big names is Nottingham’s commercial history. Thousands of people have been employed by the company over the years, first in the original Radford factories and then on the current Horizon site on the Lenton Industrial Estate.


The John Player’s Advertising Archive consists of over 20,000 objects from the company’s history, dating from the 1890s to the 1980s and includes original posters, counter cards, packaging, tin and enamel signs, photographs and company literature.


A joint project set up between The University of Nottingham and Nottingham City Museums and Galleries will document each item in the archive and digitise the collection for an online archive resource. This resource will allow both academics and the public — in particular the many Nottingham communities who have a personal link with Player’s — to explore the archive. The team will also be working with the local community, particularly former employees of Player’s, throughout 2010 and 2011 to help shed light on the stories behind many of the items in the collection. Once documented the material will be used in major exhibitions at the Museum of Nottingham Life and Nottingham Castle Museum.

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Research into not only the company and its relationship to Nottingham, but also the nature of advertising through the twentieth century will provide the School of History with resources for undergraduate and postgraduate students, and also lead to the delivery of conference papers or articles to the wider academic community. Loans of material from the archive to lecturers and seminar tutors in several University schools will also enhance students’ hands-on learning.


Evocative images of the John Player’s Navy Cut sailor, the ‘Player’s Please’ slogan and the John Player Special colour-scheme (which adorned the Lotus Formula One cars throughout the seventies and eighties) make this archive a fascinating and important resource for the University to be working on.


“These advertising images instantly evoke past worlds — ranging from Edwardian Britain to the 1960s — in which Player's marketed its brands as part of the consumer culture of its day,” said Professor Liz Harvey, Head of the School of History at the University. “Exploring them will be an exciting project with major significance for the social and cultural history of 20th century Britain, and it will also be particularly important for those in Nottingham with memories and experiences of the company.”


The John Player's project is run as a partnership between the University and Nottingham City Museums and Galleries. The key academics involved are Professor Chris Wrigley and Professor Elizabeth Harvey (School of History), with the Project Associate Andrew Newnham also based in the School of History. The project will launch this month at a public event at the University Club on University Park. For more information on the project and the launch contact


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The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's “only truly global university”, it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.


Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives ( in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City.

Story credits

More information is available from Andrew Newnham on 0774 503 4801,

Tara De Cozar

Tara De Cozar - Internal Communications Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8560 Location: University Park

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