Culture

Overview & description

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, tracing 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. Don’t miss our programme of temporary exhibitions focusing on a range of themes from community outreach to collection highlights.

Free attraction
We are completely free to visit, so pop in to 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 which tells the M&S story.

Group visitors
Groups can choose from one of our three itineraries, featuring a guided exhibition tour, a choice of expert talks and free hot drinks. 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 history of M&S in the city centre, 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.

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.

Researchers are able to gain direct access to the collection through our bookable reading room service. See our website for more details.

Read more