In contrast to the blogging of our prior trips, we’re going to blog our recent trip to England one somewhat out of order but it should still make sense (hopefully). So sit back and relax… 😄
While we were in England, we had a chance to visit the Whitchurch Silk Mill. Located in the town of Whitchurch in Hampshire, the mill was constructed from 1813 through 1815 by Henry Hayter on a plot of land called Frog Island. Taking advantage of the nearby River Test, the mill’s looms were powered by a waterwheel (today, the looms are run off of electric motors).
Since its initial construction in the early 1800s, the mill has had a number of owners and today it’s a public site managed by the Whitchurch Silk Mill Trust. Interestingly enough, silk is still produced here by commission, mostly for film and television productions. Below are some pictures of the machinery:
We couldn’t get any good pictures of the looms themselves so we found some images online:
One of the most interesting aspects of the mill were the looms and they even had two small ones that were set up for visitors such as ourselves to try out 😄:
The most compelling thing about the mill was that we were able to see how a typical silk mill might have looked (the looms you see date from the 1890s and later). Moreover, looking at the looms, one can instantly understand why the selvage widths of period fabrics were narrow- older looms simply were not as big as the massive ones now commonly used.1Admittedly an “Oh wow!” moment for us. We’re still processing the whole experience but the one major takeaway is that we have a deeper appreciation of how silk fabric was manufactured.