Leeds Museums and Galleries
Leeds Museums and Galleries holds a broad textile industrial collection as a key part of its Designated Industrial Collections. The main display is at Armley Mills, once the largest woollen mill in the world. It tells the story of Leeds’ rich industrial heritage through both it’s own history and the collections, exhibitions and galleries in the museum. The collection showcases all aspects of the textile industry, from the machines that made the cloth to the end products and reflects the huge impact the cloth and tailoring industry had on Leeds from its development in the mid-19th Century through to today.
Armley Mills maintains key links to today’s manufacturing companies and runs a spinning mule in association with Hainsworths, a family run business dating back to 1783. Companies such as John Barrans, Burtons and Hepworths are well represented, along with many smaller tailoring companies, who helped develop mass production of tailored garments and make the suit available to everyone.
Bradford Museums has a comprehensive collection of machines, covering every aspect of the textile industry in Bradford, from processing the raw material to the finished product. The companies covered include Listers, Salts, Hattersley, Moons and Riverside. The collection also includes related items for example time clocks, testing machines, a costume collection and photographs.
One of the most important parts of the collection are the sample books, which holds the pieces of fabric, information to set up the looms and the design sheets which were used in the factories to make the fabric.
Kirklees Museums and Galleries
Kirklees Museums and Galleries reflects the products that were produced in Huddersfield, Dewsbury and Batley areas: the fancy trade, carpets, moquettes, suitings, plush fabrics and shoddy and mungo.
John T. Clay, Joshua Ellis, Fields of Skelmanthorpe, Learoyds, Taylor and Lodge, Tolson Brothers, Wormalds and Walker and Godfrey Sykes are amongst those firms well represented in the collection and the online database.
The collection of tools and machinery is particularly strong for the early days of industrialisation. The social impact of the industry, especially the luddite uprisings, is represented by some very rare and significant objects. The artefacts are supported by extensive paper and media archives including photographs, manufacturers’ catalogues and trade publications.
The main textile displays can be found in Tolson Memorial Museum, which has a dedicated textile gallery, and Bagshaw Museum, which has displays about the shoddy industry. Both those museums are housed in the former homes of mill owners, which help to illustrate the enormous wealth that the industry generated and its wide-ranging impact on the local landscape.
Calderdale Museums has had a focus on costume and textile collections since 1900. There are more than 17,000 items from around the world tracking the development of textile production. This represents the influence of world textiles on local production as well as how local textiles have been exported around and influenced the world.
Everything from early hand spinning, carding, combing, weaving, finishing and costume is covered. There is also a very good collection of industrial textile machinery including an original spinning jenny and a variety of looms. Different fibre types are represented with a natural emphasis on the wool and worsted for which the area was famous. Halifax was home to Akroyd & Sons, the largest worsted spinners in the world, and Crossley’s Carpets, the largest carpet manufacturers in the world.
Wakefield Council’s Museum Service contains nearly 300 objects which tell unique stories of the textile industry in the region. Examples of textiles produced in the local area include knitting yarn samples and finished products such as clothing, bedding and soft toys. A large proportion of the collection is made up of photographs and ephemera, including correspondence, advertisements, catalogues, packaging and knitting patterns. These document the industry, related trade and commerce, and the social life of people working in the industry.
Manufacturers represented include W.E. Rawson Ltd. Patons and Baldwins Ltd., Fur Fabrics Ltd., Sirdar, Double Two Ltd., Cohen and Wilks Ltd., Thomas B. Ramsden & Co, Calverts Ropery in Wrenthorpe, Bekeart Textiles in Pontefract and M. P. Stonehouse at Albion Mills.