In a meticulous conservation effort, a diminutive loom designed to provide a condensed masterclass on Yorkshire’s textile excellence has found its place beside its colossal counterpart. Standing at less than half a metre in height, this scale model intricately replicates the massive machines crafted by Barnsley’s Wilson and Longbottom, renowned for producing looms during the heyday of Yorkshire’s textile industry.
Crafted in 1945, this miniature marvel was once a fully operational machine, equipped with miniature renditions of the tools and accessories used in its full-sized counterpart. An accompanying handwritten instruction manual penned by the original maker adds a touch of authenticity.
Primarily utilized for demonstrations, the miniature loom boasts a half-finished green handkerchief within its confines, accompanied by diminutive replicas of the larger punched cards. In a regular-sized loom, these cards dictate the sequence in which threads ascend and descend during the production process.
The delicate cleaning process unfolded in close proximity to the museum’s full-sized Hattersley standard loom, a 1933 creation from George Hattersley and Sons Ltd. of Keighley. Renowned for their efficiency and durability, Hattersley looms, such as the one on display, were meticulously packaged during production to ensure the seamless operation of all components.
John McGoldrick, Leeds Museums and Galleries’ curator of industrial history, said: “Seeing both contrasting machines side-by-side really brings home the ingenuity and pride behind these remarkable looms, which dominated the Yorkshire textile industry for generations.
“Conserving the model loom, it’s clear that the maker wanted to capture the complexity of the mechanism and show exactly why these locally produced machines had become so popular and well-regarded in mills and factories around the world.
“Looking at the full-sized loom also gives a real sense of the size and power of the real thing, and it’s easy to imagine textile mills filled with these impressive machines which helped establish the county as such an important hub for the whole industry.”
Once itself the world’s largest woollen mill, Leeds Industrial Museum was built in at least the 1600s. The site was bought in the late 1700s by Colonel Thomas Lloyd, a Leeds cloth merchant, who expanded operations dramatically, so much so that Armley was soon the world’s biggest mill of its kind.
Although production ended in 1969, the site reopened as Leeds Industrial Museum in 1982 and today displays vintage machinery including traditional looms and other textile equipment.
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “Leeds has a unique and rich heritage in the textile industry and we’re fortunate that so many of these incredible machines, which once filled Yorkshire’s mills and factories, have survived in such remarkable condition.
“They have played a key role in making Leeds and Yorkshire what they are today and are part of a fascinating chapter in our local history.”