ARH20121017-2018-FT4-030532 (resized)

Experiments with weaving now taking place at the Silk Mill

Five-week feasibility study to explore viability of permanent return to production-

Whitchurch Silk Mill is to start weaving again – after almost a year without production – as part of a feasibility study to look at the viability of a permanent return to weaving.

The new board of trustees has approved the study, which will last five weeks and which includes a trial weaving project. Weaver, Marie Page (a Whitchurch resident) is being re-employed by the Mill to weave a silk organizine striped taffeta, designed by her and Julia Trinder, the Visitor Services Manager. As part of the trial, the finished taffeta will be sold in the Silk Mill shop.

The purpose of the trial is to test all the processes involved both mechanically and in terms of the contract arrangements. If the trial is successful and the study shows that weaving could be commercially viable, then it is hoped that weaving will return to the Silk Mill for good.

TIMETABLE

The trial starts on 17th October and lasts until 16th November. It is planned that Marie will work from 11:00 to 13:00 and 14:00 to 16:00 from Tuesdays to Fridays. There may also be some weaving at weekends.  The planned timetable is as follows:

17th to 18th October Warping
19th October Complete warping and beam off
23rd to 24th October Carry Beam downstairs and set up and complete machine knotting
25th October Loom set-up and weft choice
26th October to 16th November Weaving

Visitors to the Mill will be able to come back to watch each of the processes, but they should call the Mill in advance on 01256 892065 to check times before they set off or look at http://whitchurchsilkmill.org.uk. Remember, Marie is working on Victorian looms and there can be hold-ups if the machinery falters.

PRIDE OF WHITCHURCH

Keith Watts, Chairman of Whitchurch Silk Mill Trust, says: “Whitchurch has prided itself on being home to the only working silk mill in the country, and it was a blow to the town when weaving stopped last December. One purpose of the Mill, as set out in its charitable aims, is to weave, and one of the conditions of funding from the County Council is that it does so. But more importantly, the Silk Mill is part of the beating heart of Whitchurch and a site of national significance and it’s essential that it continues to weave silk.”

Keith continued,

“We don’t want the Mill to become just a static museum to a lost art, and we certainly don’t want it sold off for commercial purposes. We are extremely grateful for the support of Hampshire Building Preservation Trust (who own the building), the Friends of Whitchurch Silk Mill, our local Councils and everyone who works at the Mill. We owe it to all of them to do our best to make sure the Mill is a thriving, living part of our country’s industrial heritage.”

Anyone wishing to join the Friends of Whitchurch Silk Mill should call in to the Mill’s shop or visit them online at http://friends.whitchurchsilkmill.org.uk/.

Whitchurch Silk Mill is open Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holidays from 10:30 to 17:00.

For further information please contact:

Claire Isbester on 01256 892514 or email her on claireisbester@yahoo.com

Some definitions

  • Warp – the lengthwise threads of the fabric – those which are loaded onto the loom, under tension, in preparation for weaving. Each thread is called a warp end.
  • Beaming off – to roll the warp threads onto the back, yarn storage beam of the loom – the warp beam.
  • Weft – the crosswise, or horizontal thread running from selvege to selvege, perpendicular to the warp threads.
  • Silk Taffeta – A crisp, smooth, plain-woven fabric with a slight sheen. (This can be made of various fibres, such as silk, rayon, or nylon, but ours will be silk!)
  • Organzine – A raw-silk thread, usually used as a warp thread.

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