Young And Old Come Together In Kirklees To Make Mill Textile Art

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 11 April 2008
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  • Archived article
Photo of school pupils and an older man pressing a large piece of felt

Making the felt at Tolson Museum. © Dave Cowan

A wall hanging created by pupils from Huddersfield will be unveiled at their school on April 21, witnessed by the mill enthusiasts who helped to inspire it.

The young people from Rawthorpe Junior School made the felt artwork of textile mills in Kirklees after a session at Tolson Museum learning about local mills. They learnt about the now defunct mills from older people knowledgeable about the subject.

Partnering up, the pairs of young and old looked at old mill photographs from the Kirkleees Image Archive and talked about how the raw wool from local sheep was prepared and spun before being woven into cloth.

The session was one in a series making up a year-long programme run by Kirklees Museums and Galleries under the banner 'Inspiring a Sense of Place' (funded by the Renaissance Partnership Initiative). Under the scheme, small groups gather together to share their knowledge and take part in activities inspired by a variety of themes relating to museum collections.

Sue Clay, a local felt maker, together with museums staff, helped the school group to transform pieces of raw wool into a 1.5m long felted picture, bringing the archive material to life in a fun and creative way.

The process was great fun for both young and old, with all singing songs as they rolled the soapy felt and counting in lots of languages spoken by members of the group – French, Urdu and Polish as well as English.

"I never knew learning about mills could be fun!" said one child.

The completed felt work will be on display at the school until July, after which it will go to Tolson Museum for a display on the Inspiring a Sense of Place programme.

The next and final theme of the programme is Origins, examining the comings and goings of populations in Kirklees using archaeology and etymology of place names and surnames.

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