A trip to Rossendale in Lancashire means many things to me. It’s a place where I feel at ‘Home’. I catch up with my family and now and again I revisit aspects of the industrial heritage and it’s textiles stories that had sparked my love of textiles, many years ago. I remember family tales from the Cotton Mills – of clogs sparking on cobbles, the Mee Mawing Language of Weavers and my great-aunt explaining how she used to thread a shuttle. Helmshore Cotton Mill is one of the last remaining Mills in the Rossendale Valley where you can truly experience the full glory of original machinery in working order.
This video is from a recent visit and shows some beautiful working Carding, Roving & Spinning machines. It’s noisier than you might think!
A little bonus for you are the fabulous Fulling Machines showing how Military Wool Cloth was made.
As you might have already guessed, I love Lancashire. My mother’s family originate from a valley in Rossendale. Her ancestors were mill workers – weavers and spinners – and my fascination in our textile heritage stems from a childhood filled with stories and tales about the mills.
Last weekend, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to visit The Weavers Cottage in Rawtenstall. It’s hard to believe that anyone would want to destroy such a stunning piece of industrial heritage, but they nearly did! – it was saved from demolition in the 1970’s.
Originally a Loom Shop, this building has had many uses over the years and still retains many of its original features including an array of beautiful, stone fireplaces on each of the floors.
The Rossendale Civic Trust curate the building and share their knowledge freely. Their enthusiasm in the buildings’s heritage is inspiring and made me want to research further once I returned home.
The top floor has a variety of looms, all set up and ready for use. The sound of a working loom is wonderful.
Yarn filled shuttles and bobbins are everywhere, ready for use.
(My Father gave me some shuttles years ago by a chap who was using them as firewood! They’re my pride and joy, safely hidden away in my sewing room.)
Over the years, the Trust have acquired various items associated with local life. My favourite are from the shop of ‘J Crawshaw’, the last clog maker in Rossendale.
A great deal of my embroidery has been inspired by my Lancashire heritage and I’m thrilled I was able to buy this piece of fabric which was handwoven on the premises.
This visit was a real treat for me. I went home buzzing with new ideas and a real sense of pride in my home County.