Sewing and textiles with Ann
It was a woollen mill at Easter. Last weekend I visited a cotton mill.
The National Trust’s Quarry Bank, at Styal in Cheshire, is the site of an old cotton mill. It has been returned to being a fully working mill, BUT….. none of the large number of cotton processing machines originate from Quarry Bank, and production is limited to the brief demos that the volunteer staff show to visitors. I asked if they turned it all on when the visitors had gone, but the answer was ‘no’. So weaving takes place for maybe 6 minutes per hour during opening hours, and other processes for rather less time.
I forgot to ask where they got their cotton from, but it can’t be the UK as it doesn’t grow here. And I didn’t see any evidence of dyeing. Their looms are limited to weaving only as complex as gingham. i.e. coloured warp, but only two colours of weft thread. The majority were using a single coloured weft – white.
The machinery can’t be operated for more than a few minutes because of the noise. But its very clear from the ‘Apprentice House’, that young children worked there for 16 hours a day, based on what were fundamentally slave arrangements. At least in the UK things have moved on, although maybe not elsewhere in the world.
In the continuing interest of acquiring fabric with some known provenance, it is possible to buy 100% cotton woven at the mill on heritage machinery, at a not unreasonable price given the circumstances. It will probably be used for Christmas presents along with a brief description of its provenance. If I (or you) want more, it can only be bought from Quarry Bank National Trust, and they do take telephone orders.
My thanks to Keith for the photos (except the one immediately above, which is mine) and explicit permission to use them on my blog. Fancy visiting a textile mill and not taking my own camera!