• The Disruptive Designer

Skelmanthorpe Textile Heritage Centre

Sunday 10th March 2019

On Sunday I was invited to have a guided tour of a preserved weavers cottage in Skelmanthorpe by Robert Charnock, owner of Dugdale Bros & Co. The tour guide was by Richard Brook, secretary and trustee , member of the Mens Shed and ex Huddersfield councillor.

The building is a two floor stone terrace, dating back to the 1800s with the downstairs preserved as the living quarters for the family and the upstairs housing a hand weaving loom, built by the previous owner of the cottage and used to generate income. Currently it is used as a museum and open by bookings and every 2nd Sunday of the month.

I did not know what to expect when I visited or of what benefit it would be, however for the 2 hours I was there I totally transfixed by this little time capsule. I started thinking about my canvas's as art pieces and how I could frame or mount them, especially after seeing an original hand embroidery frame leaning against the wall. I am currently thinking about the frame of the canvas's having a connection to tailoring and wool manufacturing, paying homage to the equipment used of the period. The cottage preserved time is the beginning of the industrial revolution circa 1880 - 1914, which fits nicely with my project and both Edward and Morris.

The hand embroidery/tapestry frame was intriguing and full of character. I am contemplating designing frames based on this with the collaboration from the members of the mens sheds.

Upstairs in the cottage, the hand weaving loom dominated the area, with the walls and remainder of the room displaying samples, equipment, letters, infographics or bygone era around the local textile region ... the loom itself was incredible and was built by Stanley on the instruction of the owner Leslie (now deceased). Stanley was an elderly gentleman in his 80s who spent all his life in the textile industry and was passionate about the craft and heritage centre. Stanley explained about the loom and how he customised it over the years to improve worker health and productivity.

Stanley started to demonstrate how to create piled textiles and also explained the dropbox feature for multi shuttles.

The wall displays showed past samples produced on the loom or looms in the area, which varied in complexity and detailing. The designs did not look out of place in todays climate and showed a resemblance to Morris and the arts and crafts movement.

The detailing on the fine weaving looked a lot like embroidery and very impressive. Stanley explained that the "fancy"weaves were not as profitable for the individual weaver due to the time it took to set up the equipment and small quantity of length required. In terms of Kingfly Tailoring offering the ultimate in personalisation, I wonder whether weaving one off fabric lengths for a client could be an option? Be it an expensive one at that, it could appeal to affluent clients.

Stanley and Richard mentioned the need for more people to get involved with the centre for its long term survival and would be keen to train some more people up on how to use the loom to carry out demonstrations. I have stated my interest as it could benefit me from both an academic and entrepreneurial perspectives.

The visit has certainly given me lots to think about and opened up possibly exciting opportunities. I am keen to see where this leads.