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The Market Harborough needlepoint was created by the University of the Third Age (U3A) to commemorate the millennium by making a permanent 'snapshot' of the town in the year 2000. Between 1997 and 2000, forty-six embroiderers worked on stitching sixty different panels, each carefully chosen to represent a part of life in Market Haborough. All panels were stitched onto a standard needlepoint canvas in wool, before being joined together to create the full needlepoint, which measured 2.9m x 1.6m. The framed piece was unveiled in November 2000, and is now displayed in the Symington Building, Market Harborough.

 

Damage to the needlepoint, before conservation The needlepoint being removed from its original mounting board The Market Harborough millennium tapestry being sewn to a new padded board
 The Market Harborough millennium needlepoint before and during conservation. 
 

The completed needlepoint had been stretched and stapled to a large plywood board before being mounted in a custom, glazed box frame. The needlepoint itself was in a very good condition, being relatively modern, but movement of the heavy board at some point had caused the excess canvas around the edges of the stitched area to tear in one of the bottom corners. This was probably caused jointly by the canvas snagging on the edges of the uncovered board, and the stress put on the canvas by stretching. For the needlepoint to remain stable into the future it was felt best to treat this damage sooner rather and later, and so its custodians, Leicestershire County Council, commissioned WHConservation to repair the damage and stabilise the piece.

 

Part of the Market Harborough millennium needlepoint after conservation

 

As the stitched area was actually very stable, it was agreed that the needlepoint would first be removed from its board and the vulnerable area of blank canvas trimmed down and turned underneath the stitched area. This released the tension put onto the canvas through stretching. Due to the client's budget constraints the original plywood mounting board was re-used, but was cut down by a specialist contractor acting for WHConservation to match the size of the stitched area. The edges of the board were also rounded off slightly, and the board lined and padded with layers of acid free tissue paper, cotton interlining and cotton calico. This created a barrier between the needlepoint and the plywood, and also prevented the piece from rubbing on any sharp edges. Finally, the needlepoint was carefully stitched to the newly padded board at regular intervals through the main field, and around each edge in order to more equally distribute the weight of the heavy piece. Standard textile conservation stitches were used, in fine, colour-matched polyester sewing threads. Specialist contractors acting for the client returned the needlepoint to its box frame. 

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Collections & Conservation Manager

Leicestershire County Council

 

"We are very pleased with the work carried out by WHConservation on the Market Harborough Millennium..."

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