Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Arts for All - Armley Mills

There have been mills on the site since the seventeenth century but the building now standing was constructed by Benjamin Gott after a fire in 1805. The mill closed in 1969 and was bought by Leeds City Council who reopened it in 1982 as an industrial museum. In the early days of making Leeds Tapestry a room at the museum was used for workshops, but when a Lottery Grant was obtained for computer equipment the workshop was moved to the more central location of Holy Trinity Church where there was more space for an office.

Extract from a letter by Claire Wildman, September 2, 2003

"Looking back, I'm glad that in the early days we worked on the Tapestry in the Armley Mills Museum, it seemed right, to be where the wool was spun into weft and woven into material. I hope that the tapestry, and Leeds coat of arms, will remind people in the future that that is how Leeds started. I was thirteen when the Second World War started, so when I left school in 1940 I started work at Hartley's Mill up Dewsbury Road, it wasn't exactly clogs and shawls, but as a weaver I had to have a weft skirt, which was a harding skirt gathered round the waist which fell very full to the floor, it was used to carry bobbins from the 'mules'to the looms. When the bobbins were ready to be 'doffed' the women would fill baskets and bins and tip them into your skirt, which you would pick up from the bottom hem to catch all the bobbins and they would be put right round so the skirt was full and the weight even. It was quite easy to carry, though you took plenty of room up. To empty it you simply stooped forward into the weavers baskets. You had to be quick, the weavers were on piece work, not by the hour.
I don't know any other mills that had this method, though Hartley's had some more mills in Morley, may be they did"

How many more mills would have been on the Tapestry if the planning and designing had been thirty years earlier?

Chris Richardson machine appliqued this piece.

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