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Leon Burman

National recognition for the Weavers of Whitchurch Silk Mill

By admin 29.03.2024

Known as the ‘Oscars of the Museums’ World’ the Museums + Heritage Awards celebrate the best in museums, galleries, cultural, and heritage visitor attractions. Over the past months, hundreds of entrants from around the country have been battling it out for nineteen prestigious awards, and the Weavers of Whitchurch Silk Mill, who are keeping alive the critically endangered craft of silk ribbon weaving, have been shortlisted for the 2024 Museum Team of the Year.

A gem of industrial heritage, Whitchurch Silk Mill is situated on the picturesque banks of the River Test. Built in 1815, it is now a living museum, with a working waterwheel still operating in the original Georgian building. Using Victorian and early 20th-century machinery, a small team of highly skilled Weaver Tacklers uses traditional silk weaving skills to create beautiful, artisan cloth.

Earlier this year, Silk Ribbon Weaving was listed as a critically endangered craft and added to the Red List by the Heritage Craft Association. There are only four silk ribbon weavers left in the UK, with Whitchurch Silk Mill employing one of them. In the past, ribbons woven at Whitchurch Silk Mill have featured in many well-known films and television shows, including Sense & Sensibility, Titanic and many more.

Shannon Bye, Heritage Weaving Manager, said, “Our team of Weavers is the core of everything we do at Whitchurch Silk Mill and has been since the Mill was built in 1815.

They contribute to the mill’s success in many ways, from our Whitchurch Silk brand to our visitor experience and the care and conservation of our historic machinery collection. The Mill’s future is reliant on the skills and passion of the team here, who will pass on their skills to future generations of weavers, ensuring a resilient path forward over the next 200 years.

Whitchurch Silk Mill preserves traditional heritage silk weaving skills by weaving on looms dating back to the 1890s and maintaining a collection of historic machinery. Operating as a museum while still weaving silk for today’s market, Shannon and her team are securing the future of the methods, skills, traditions, and knowledge that have existed at the Mill since 1815.

The Mill has been shortlisted alongside the Foundling Museum Operations Team, Tower Bridge Technical Team, the Powell-Cotton Museum Skulls ‘on the move’ team and the No.1 Royal Crescent Front of House Team. The winners will be announced at a glittering live ceremony on Wednesday, 15 May.

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