Spinning tales…

Happy New Year one and all! We’ve had a flurry of activity here this week with essential maintenance and repairs being carried out across the property and a fortunate few members of staff went on a ‘nooks and crannies’ tour of Quarry Bank learning all about her different mechanical quirks. We’re also getting ready to reveal our exciting news, which if all goes to plan you’ll be hearing about next week!

But for now, I’d like to introduce another member of Quarry Bank’s story; Elizabeth Craig, our Hand Spinning and Weaving Supervisor.

Elizabeth on our Spinning Wheel
Elizabeth on our Spinning Wheel

Elizabeth has been with us for 20 years now, she had studied local history and had always been interested in textiles and big looms, and fell in love with Quarry Bank and wanted to help share the property’s story.

Our Spinning Jenny

Elizabeth is now the woman to ask for all things relating to looms! Part of her mission is to conserve the skills and knowledge of the past and as such has trained many of the other hand spinners and weavers here at Quarry Bank. She also has the very important task of inspecting the looms with her keen eye for detail, ensuring they are in correct working order.

Our Hand-thrown Shuttle Loom
Our Hand-thrown Shuttle Loom

However, Elizabeth’s favourite part of her job is performing demonstrations on the looms and explaining them to the visitors, all whilst creating pieces of heritage cloth which is then sold in our shop. The Hand Spinning and Weaving team, on occasion, has been commissioned to reproduce heritage cloth which is worn by dedicated heritage actors and reenactors.

Elizabeth is the proud demonstrator and carer of four different machines here at the Mill. The Hand Spinning and Weaving Gallery is an important part of Quarry Bank’s story as it provides the historical context for visitors, allowing them to fully grasp pre-industrial life and the truly massive changes of the Industrial Revolution to both the processes of industry and the lives of those caught up in it.

Hand-thrown Shuttle Loom
Hand-thrown Shuttle Loom

Firstly, there is a replica of a spindle (or jersey wheel) and a floor standing loom which is operated with a hand-thrown shuttle, and here it recreates fustian, a mixed cloth containing cotton and either linen or wool. These are examples of medieval weaving technology, and whilst they were used for the wool trade, they allow us to recognise the giant leap in technology the Industrial Revolution wrought.

Moving into the 18th century and we have an example of the Flying Shuttle which was invented by John Kay in 1733, and here it weaves 100% cotton cloth. We also have a replica Spinning Jenny, which has been specially made for Quarry Bank Mill from the James Hargreaves drawing which date from approximately 1770 after they were discovered in the Patent Office! These machines were invented specifically for the huge demand of cotton cloth when cotton was still a relatively new product. And remember, Quarry Bank is the only place in the UK that you are able to see these wonderful machines working!

Make sure you come and visit us to see both Elizabeth and her team, and the machines in use!


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