Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Bradford Industrial Museum.

We visited the Bradford Industrial Museum on Thursday. Incredibly entrance is free. As the receptionist said this is Bradford’s gift to the world and to my mind very well worth a visit.

The outside of these mills always seems very imposing to me. They just seem to shout noise and grease!

This information board explains how the ready availability of raw materials made it the ideal spot to make great big enormous industrial machines such as this boiler called Victor made in Bradford in 1921. The ground floor of the museum has an awful lot of boilery type machines and a great deal of information about them and the pioneering engineers. I left Mr E to explore and went upstairs to the Spinning and Weaving galleries.

So now you have the machinery being built, and plentiful rainfall to drive the machines and one more thing-  Sheep- the perfect spot for a woollen mill, of which there were a prodigious quantity hereabouts and in Leeds .

There is probably a limit on how many different machines you would like to see, in the production of yarn fit for weaving, so  here are just two of them!

This machine was made in nearby Keighley, if you think you have never heard of Keighley you may be right, but you sure have heard of the Bronte’s who lived in Haworth which is close by. The wonder is that only Charlotte wrote about this industrial landscape on their doorstep, and then only because her friend Mrs Gaskill wrote North and South and made Charlotte re-evaluate her material . Her last book Shirley draws on what was happening in her own town.

There were  eight processes to be gone through before yarn could be woven into cloth.

This is the most recent weaving machine in the museum. The mill was used for  spinning rather than a weaving before it became a museum. However from time to time weaving does take place, sadly not while we were there. A-level students had made

this giant coat using some locally made fabric and depicting local scenes and people.

BYW there was a wonderful exhibition in the foyer of all manner of textiles and I forgot to go back and photo them. Doh!

I didn’t have time to explore the print gallery which looked really interesting. (Mr E gets back ache after a lot of standing, so I have to pick and choose what to look at). There was a lot to see.

A tram shed with a bus

and a tram, cars

horse-drawn vehicles, but I don’t want to try your patience.

And finally to Gaythorpe Terrace, a row of mill workers back to back cottages. These were painstakingly brought here and saved from demolition. Back to back because you could have only half a house, one or two rooms downstairs and two or one upstairs depending on the configuration of the downstairs. An outside privy , hence those chamber pots!! The cottages had been decorated in three styles –  Victorian, the 1940s and the 1970s. You could not go in the rooms but viewed through a window, the sun was shining and so the photos are pretty dreadful.

Victorian living room. The sun spoils this quilt – each hexie had been embroidered round in gold thread with herringbone stitch. I don’t think it’s that old!

The 1940s living room with sewing machine and work box.

Through an archway then

the gardens with privy and so upstairs

Victorian bed room, sorry you can still see the chamber pot.

1940’s bedroom laid out with an ARP man’s uniform

Oh and look, a chamber pot!

1970’s bedroom! Hands up who had a purple bedroom in the 70s, that would be Mr E and me!


ssh it was orange too!

Here ends the tour, it was terrific. Not signposted in Bradford at all that we could see, thank goodness for Satnav.

If you would like to visit or see more here’s the link

Hope you enjoyed this.






Comments on: "Bradford Industrial Museum." (57)

  1. Wow! I was mesmerized by all of the machines! Look at ALL the yarn spools! Just wow-wow-wow! So fascinating! Thank You!
    In the 70s I had a blue bedroom. I painted a 5′ tall Mickey Mouse on one wall with a sun behind him. We never heard of purple rooms in the big city. When I was 16 we moved to a small city north. After my big city boyfriend got out of the Army and we married at 19 thinking we’d live in the big city, but I liked the smaller city. So we stayed and bought a house when I was 20. We still live here, 40 years later. I painted a bedroom purple for my oldest girls and when people saw it they asked if I was Polish! LOL!! I thought what??!! No Polish in me. But we just didn’t paint rooms purple here in Minnesota. I still have a purple bedroom in the house now that adults with disabilities use. (we run a Group Home) But its not the room my girls had. ;o)

    • I love your story of your home, 40 years in the same house, wow. We have been in this house now for nearly 16 years and its the longest we have lived in one place. No purple bedrooms now! Why Polish I wonder with the purple?

  2. Oh wow, what a totally fantastic place – right up my street, so to speak, as I love social history! Thanks for the informative post – off to see more via your link right now.

  3. That was brilliant, absolutely loved reading it and seeing your photos. 🙂

  4. Wonderful visit, thanks Cathy!

  5. Awesome tour! Wish I lived where the history is so old.

  6. Now that’s a good museum, having things to send your husband off to look at while you look at the good bits. Thanks for sharing. Am planning to plan a trip to Leeds next year, so will try to bear it in mind.:-)

  7. Thanks for sharing your visit! It looks like an interesting way to spend a day:)

  8. That coat is amazing. I got married in 1972 and didn’t have a purple bedroom but the house was full of William Morris and Laura Ashley wallpaper – we even had a green shag pile carpet in the sitting room!

    • Must have been a posh house with William Morris and Laura Ashley! We had lino and rugs on the floor of our first house!!
      The coat was really good and to say made by school children truly impressive!

      • Our first home was one of my Dad’s farm cottages and it was grim – I bought all our furniture at local auctions for £1 or £2 pounds, even the TV. The second house (with the wallpaper) was on a farm we were renting – don’t think it was posh but it was freezing!

      • Houses were cold then. Our first house had a gas fire in the dining room and one in the sitting room. That was it! Downstairs bathroom that was an extention and was freezing!

    • Ours was at least accessed from the kitchen.

      • We eventually built a lean-to access – still *********** cold though! I used to fill the bath with very hot water to warm the room up first before getting in the bath. Gosh – memories flooding back. I remember my bedside glass of water with ice on the top – we were tough then weren’t we Cathy!

      • We could have done with chamber pots!!

  9. I love museums like this, you get such a feel for the real life our ancestors lived. Thanks for the photos!

    • Yes don’t you. I once worked for a very short time as a temp in a wages deparment for a mail order catalogue company based in an old mill in Manchester. It was an incredible building, and the place in the museum which still had an authentic feel to it was actually the Ladies! I think it may have been an original room!

      • thoughts36 said:

        I worked at Tootals in Manchester for a short while when I was 18. Now there was an old fashioned company, the building on Oxford Street was huge, had its own dentist and chiropodist.

    • Goodness me! I worked in Mcvities factory in Manchester for a holiday job, in the delivery logisitcs dept, then a week at Kays catologue company. I also did 5 months working for John Lewis in Cambridge, no dentist or chiropodist!

  10. thoughts36 said:

    Where’s the Brentford Nylon’s quilted bedspread off the 1970’s room is what I’d like to know – everyone had one. And the nylon sheets. If you rubbed your nightie up and down your legs in the dark you could achieve a firework display of sparks off the static 😂😂

    • Oh yes, weren’t nylon sheets an abomination. You always got them in B&Bs! It was always one of the things we used to check, so glad when they vanished.

  11. thoughts36 said:

    Thanks for sharing. I’m definitely going visiting there. I love everything to do with the Industrial Revolution, the only history we did at school that I ever took any interest in. The engineering feats achieved back then absolutely fascinate me. No computers required, they just got on with problem solving on paper.

  12. That was fun! So much to see–I’d love to go in person.

  13. claire93 said:

    that was another great day out!
    I was a teen in the 70s and yep, I had a purple bedroom lol.

  14. Fascinating tour and how much I appreciate it! The first explanation photo was very enlightening. Am so glad you included it for us who don’t know all the wonders unique to Yorkshire!

  15. Love this! That coat is amazing. Thanks for taking us along!

  16. That is an amazing museum! And you’re not going to believe it, you mentioned another connection of my family… my 4th great-grandparents, Michael Pickles and Paulina Parker, were married in Haworth by the Rev. Patrick Bronte, the father of Charlotte Bronte! In fact, Charlotte taught Sunday School to the Pickles children, including my 3rd great-grandmother, Nanny. Nanny married John Howarth, so she was born in Haworth and became a Howarth!
    Thank you again for a great blog. Another line in the family worked in the woollen mills (the Clitheroes, in Halifax), so the photos here are very interesting.

    • OH WOW! Fancy having relatives married by Rev Patrick Bronte, so amazing.And Charlotte Bronte taught your relative at Sunday school. Oh My!
      I have relatives too who worked in a woollen mill, hence my interest. Do you know what trade your relatives followed?

      • Yes, Michael Pickles was a woolcomber on several census returns. The Clitheroe daughters – my great-grandmother Miranda was one – worked as ‘worsted workers’, among other descriptions. Their father Samuel was an engine tenter – which threw me off when I first researched, as I thought it had something to do with trains! But no, the engines he tented were in the mills. The occupation is the origin of the phrase ‘being on tenterhooks’, as that what they used.

      • Tenting being the process of stretching the material. My relative was a cloth dresser, which means he finsihed off the fabric, by getting the nap perfect.

        • Don’t you just love all the old occupations? Wool and cloth was really in the blood in our family. Miranda and her husband Fred emigrated to New Zealand with their son Ernest (always known as Pat, my granddad). He spent his working life after WW2 as the owner of a fabric shop. Full circle!

  17. Scotland for a working woollen mill…

    • Thanks for this. I knew that houses called back to back were built back to back as I described, but it was information at this museum that explained that the upstairs and downstairs configuration varied!

  18. I did enjoy the visit thank you. I thought back to back cottages or houses were called that simply because they were built with small yards each, back to back with just tiny lines in between for access.

  19. Fascinating mill – I’d love to visit and see all those fabric construction machines,

    • What I would like now is to find a working woollen mill to visit. I am on the look out.

      • thoughts36 said:

        Well I was going to direct you to Helmshore textile museum in Rossendale but apparently Lancashire County Council withdrew funding last year and it closed except for prebooked school educational visits. Absolutely criminal that such a historic site isn’t funded. I went there on a school trip at Junior school (an incredibly long time ago) and remember loving it there. Otherwise I found one in Guiseley called Moon though I don’t think they do tours. https://www.moons.co.uk/about-us/our-mill/

      • Thanks for this. I have visited their webpage and sent them an email enquiry. If you don’t ask you don’t get! Moons have stock in a local shop in Malton, one of my favourite places for a browse.

        • thoughts36 said:

          You can but ask. They might not let you into the dyeing process room tho’ it’s top secret apparently.

      • I mentioned that it was weaving I was interested in, I’ll let you know.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: