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Help celebrate life of remarkable Norwich woman

PUBLISHED: 21:10 30 October 2010

Pamela Clabburn (right) who has recently died.; For Mike Pollitt / Obit.

Pamela Clabburn (right) who has recently died.; For Mike Pollitt / Obit.

Archant

She served as a nurse in world war two, built up a unique collection of textiles and costumes for a Norwich museum, and then set up a city textile group which inspired more than 500 people.

Now the life of Pamela Clabburn MBE, a remarkable former Norwich High School for Girls pupil, who was a world authority on textile conservation and an expert on the Norwich shawl industry, is being honoured with a special book which people are being invited to contribute to.

Miss Clabburn, who died this year at the age of 96 after a long illness, had written several books, including the 2,000 entry book The Needleworker’s Dictionary, and lectured on costume and textiles, as well as being acknowledged internationally as a leading authority on the Norwich shawl industry.

In 1939, she had been about to study at the Royal College of Needlework but then war broke out. She became a nurse in the army, a waitress and even worked in a factory as a hand-finisher in the rag trade.

After the war, she set up as a dressmaker in Norwich and, in 1964, she joined the staff of Strangers’ Hall and oversaw the repair of four Gothic tapestries. Five years later, she was appointed assistant keeper of social history at the Norwich Museums.

Miss Clabburn founded the Costume and Textile Association (C&TA) in 1990, which was established to find a home for the wonderful collection of Norfolk’s costumes and textiles.

Jeanne Southgate, secretary of the C&TA, said: “Today the association is thriving with about 500 members, keeping alive the enthusiasm for the museum collection.

“We plan to compile a book of recollections, with photos, of a very special person who had such an important influence on many aspects of Norwich life and whose achievements deserve recognition. We hope to do her justice.

“A nurse, self-taught needlewoman, a world authority on textile conservation, specialising in ecclesiastical embroidery, an expert on the history of the Norwich shawl, an author of international reputation, authoritative teacher and in her spare time, a passionate sailor. She was a remarkable Norwich lady with a wry sense of humour.”

If you can recall any personal encounters with her, however small, please send the details to Jeanne Southgate, c/o C&TA, Shirehall, Market Avenue, Norwich, NR1 3JQ.

Are you doing something to honour the memory of a famous Norfolk person, or a loved one? If so, call reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email emma.knights@archant.co.uk.

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