History of the Textile Industry around Hebden Bridge
Up until the early 19th century, most of the textiles produced in this area were made from wool. They were known as Kerseys.
Wool is produced by shearing sheep - this is carried out once a year and so can be regarded as a renewable resource. After shearing, the wool is cleaned, or scoured, and is then carded or combed. This was once done using hand carders but is now done by machine.
The wool is then spun into yarn. Again this was once carried out by hand using a drop spindle or spinning wheel but is now done by machine in the few mills that are left in this country.
Weaving, knitting or tufting
Handloom weaver in his Bogg Eggs cottage near Old Town, Hebden Bridge
The next process is either weaving, knitting the yarn into cloth or it can be made into carpets using different tufting methods. Most of the wool in this country is made into carpets.
Fulling is the process by which the cloth is thickened or felted. This strengthens the fabric. It was once carried out by 'waulking' the cloth - trampling it underfoot or by hand. It was later carried out by fulling hammers in the mill - these would have been driven by water power. After the cloth was fulled it was then put on to tenter frames to dry outside. Evidence of this can be seen in the place names locally - such as Tenterfields near Luddenden Foot.
Tenter frame in Wales
The wool pieces were then taken to cloth halls - firstly the Cloth Hall in Heptonstall and later the Piece Hall in Halifax.
Heptonstall Cloth Hall
Photo courtesy of Nigel Lloyd
Until the discovery of modern dyes, most of the colours for cloth were obtained from plants. Many of these were grown in Britain, but the more exotic and brighter colours were brought in from other countries.
The ATC is able to offer workshops for schools in all the above processes - where the children are able to have a go and produce samples of the various stages, whilst learing about the making of woollen products.
Wool marketing board - www.britishwool.org.uk
Temple Newsom - www.leeds.gov.uk/templenewsam/education
Helmshore Mill - www.lancashire.gov.uk/acs/sites/museums/schools
Trowbridge Museum - www.trowbridgemuseum.co.uk/education