People at Players, Preserving the history of Nottingham

21 Jun 2016 15:21:54.670

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An academic from The University of Nottingham has created a website to preserve the history of the city’s iconic John Player & Sons, which was one of the largest employers in Nottingham during the 1930s-1970s.

Dr Dan O’Neil from the Department of History at the University has created a website about working life at John Player & Sons – one of the biggest tobacco manufacturers in Britain during this time. In the 60s, the company was employing as many as 9,000 people.

 Nottingham’s social and industrial heritage

The website, called ‘People at Players, contains a series of interviews with former employees of the factories, telling their stories and sharing their memories of their time working for the company. There are also old photographs and a video of the Player’s factory sites in Nottingham, giving a visual record of the company’s presence in the city.

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Visitors to the site will also have the opportunity to comment on the content and to submit their own photographs and memories. It is hoped that the community of former Player’s employees will add to the site over time.

 Dr O’Neil said: “The People at Player's website gives a great insight into what it was like to work for John Player & Sons. The website is designed to record and preserve an important part of Nottingham's social and industrial heritage, this is particularly important at a time when the company's presence within Nottingham is slowly disappearing.

 ‘Important role in the city’

“The company's Horizon factory (now operated by Imperial Tobacco, Player's parent company and situated in the Lenton industrial estate) closed at the end of May and it will likely be demolished sometime over the next few years. It did not receive listing status from Historic England. This website will hopefully be a lasting testament to the company and its important role in the city.”

The project is part of a partnership which began in 2009 between the University and Nottingham City Museums and Galleries. The aim of the partnership is to develop the John Player Advertising Archive, as held by the museum service. It adds to work already done, with the photographs featured on the site coming from the archive and the oral histories becoming part of the archive. The Arts and Humanities Research Council provided funding to the project.

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Our academics can now be interviewed for broadcast via our Media Hub, which offers a Globelynx fixed camera and ISDN line facilities at University Park campus. For further information please contact a member of the Communications team on +44 (0)115 951 5798, email or see the Globelynx website for how to register for this service.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide. It is ranked in the world’s top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, and 8th in the UK for research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for four years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…


Story credits

More information is available from Dr Dan O’Neil at

Charlotte Anscombe – Media Relations Manager (Arts and Social Sciences)

Email:  Phone:+44 (0)115 74 84 417 Location: University Park

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