Thackeray’s Lane in Arnold is named after a local manufacturer and politician. Joseph Thackeray, a lace manufacturer, came to Nottingham from Manchester in the 1780s, due to the outbreak of machine breaking in Lancashire. He established himself in Nottingham and the business in time passed from father to son and then on to grandson. John Lawson Thackeray, Joseph’s grandson, continued the family business and built a lace factory called Forest Mills at Radford in 1840. He produced products of a very high quality which were soon in demand. At the 1851 Great Exhibition in London, his lace thread was awarded a Gold Medal and subsequently gained a worldwide reputation for excellence. With these high honours, it soon led to a full order book from his clients.
Around this time he took on a partner, Thomas Hickling and then began trading as Thackeray and Hickling.
A man who was mindful of his civic responsibilities, Thackeray became involved in local politics, joining the Radford Board of Health, the forerunner of the local council, and became its chairman having been elected to represent Nottingham Park Ward in 1853.
When Radford became part of the city of Nottingham he was elected to the council and became an Alderman. He was made Mayor of Nottingham in 1854 and again in 1866.
As his business continued to grow he also expanded his other interests and in 1858 became a director and trustee of one of the first building societies the Nottingham and Midland Counties Permanent Benefit Building Society.
About this time, he acquired land in Arnold at Arno Vale and built Arno Vale House near the island on the present Thackeray’s lane, this originally being the drive which led to the house.
By 1870, Thackeray and Hickling decided to part and the partnership was dissolved with Thackeray taken over the assets of the company. The business continued to prosper however and in 1876 and 1878, two patents were issued for the design of machinery for the doubling of cotton and other threads.
Thackeray died in 1886 and his death was reported in the Nottingham Post on Mon 6 September:
“J. L. THACKERAY, J.P. It is with regret we announce the death of Mr. John Lawson Thackeray, J.P., which occurred at his residence, Arnot Vale, near Arnold, on Saturday evening. Mr. Thackeray, who was 74 years of age, had not enjoyed good health during the last few years.”
Within three years of Thackeray’s death the Nottingham Suburban Railway was completed in 1889 with a station at Daybrook and the line crossing over a bridge on Thackeray’s Lane, near to the site of Arno Vale House.
In 1950, Thackeray & Sons, the company that John had formed at Forest Mills closed as the demand for lace declined and due to a failure to upgrade equipment to modern standards. The mill buildings - unlike Arno Vale House - still exist. The Arno Vale House was demolished when the estate was sold with the area now being covered in housing.
All articles © Bob Massey