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Weavers back in action at mill
2:28pm Wednesday 31st October 2012 in Andover
AFTER almost a year without weaving, a Hampshire mill will start producing again.
It will be part of a five-week feasibility study at Whitchurch Silk Mill, to look at the possibility of permanently weaving once more.
The mill – which is thought to be the oldest in England – stopped producing last December, due to money worries.
However the new board of trustees has approved the study and Whitchurch weaver Marie Page will be re-employed by the mill to create a silk organizine striped taffeta, designed by her and visitor services manager Julia Trinder. As part of the trial, the finished taffeta will be sold in the silk mill shop.
If the trial is successful and the study shows that weaving could be commercially viable, then it is hoped that weaving will return to the mill for good.
Keith Watts, chairman of Whitchurch Silk Mill Trust, said: “Whitchurch has prided itself on being home to the only working silk mill in the country and it was a blow to the town when weaving stopped last December.
“One purpose of the mill, as set out in its charitable aims, is to weave, and one of the conditions of funding from Hampshire County Council is that it does so.
But more importantly, the silk mill is part of the beating heart of Whitchurch and a site of national significance and it’s essential that it continues to weave silk.
“We don’t want the mill to become just a static museum to a lost art and we certainly don’t want it sold off for commercial purposes.
“We are extremely grateful for the support of Hampshire Building Preservation Trust (who own the building), the Friends of Whitchurch Silk Mill, our local councils and everyone who works at the mill.”
Marion Brinton, chairman of Friends of Whitchurch Silk Mill, added: “We are delighted that there is the prospect of the mill weaving silk again in the future. Silk weaving on the historic looms is what makes Whitchurch Silk Mill such a special place and gives the visitors a unique experience.”
The trial will continue until 16 November.
It is planned that Marie will work from 11am to 1pm and 2pm to 4pm from Tuesdays to Fridays.
There may also be some weaving at weekends.
Visitors to the mill should call in advance on 01256 8920656 to check times or visit whitchurchsilkmill.
org.uk The mill is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10.30am to 5pm.