Shuttles and shafts: Celebrating Ulster’s Linen History

Pictured (left to right) are Barbara Dass and Trish Belford of Ulster University
Pictured (left to right) are Barbara Dass and Trish Belford of Ulster University
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In celebration of Ulster’s linen industry, Shuttles and Shafts will be presenting the first of three public roadshows inviting members of the public to bring along objects and memories associated with the local production and sale of linen in the twentieth century.

Join Shuttles and Shafts on Saturday, July 29th from 10am to 4pm in the Parochial Hall at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum as part of the museum’s Linen Day which also includes demonstrations of weaving, embroidery, dressmaking and more across the museum grounds.

Most of Northern Ireland’s linen industrial heritage has been sold, lost or destroyed. In 2007 a large collection of the plates used in the printing process was found abandoned in the old Co Armagh factory of the William Liddell Company, which in its time was one of the world’s largest privately owned linen manufacturers.

Patricia Belford, Lead researcher, Ulster University’s Belfast School of Art

As part of a Heritage Lottery Fund project to restore and archive the glass plates associated with William Liddell’s Damask designs, the team from Ulster University would like to meet people who worked in the linen industry who have memories or articles of interest to record.

Family members may have items passed down to them from older generations.

Your stories will be recorded and artefacts scanned to create a digital archive of Ulster’s great design and linen heritage.

Anyone involved in spinning, bleaching, weaving, designing or any other aspect of linen production is warmly invited to attend.

Shuttles and Shafts look forward to meeting you and seeing items such as tools, letters, ledgers, samples, photographs and more.

Lead researcher, Patricia Belford from Ulster University’s Belfast School of Art, says: “Most of Northern Ireland’s linen industrial heritage has been sold, lost or destroyed. In 2007 a large collection of the plates used in the printing process was found abandoned in the old Co Armagh factory of the William Liddell Company, which in its time was one of the world’s largest privately owned linen manufacturers.

“The plates have been largely inaccessible to the public because of their fragile state. Through this research, Ulster University will preserve this rare insight into an integral part of our manufacturing heritage for the local community and for future generations. It will also allow us to celebrate the rich legacy of the textile industry that played such a vital role in the social and economic development of the region.”

The roadshow will include an exhibition, activities, consultations with textile experts and a chance to meet people from different parts of the industry.

Two further roadshows are planned, Donacloney Orange Hall on Septemnber 14th and Lisburn City Library on November 9th, 10am to 4pm each day.

For more information on Shuttles and Shafts click on www.shuttlesandshafts.com or email hello@shuttlesandshafts.com.