Category Archives: Cloth & Memory

New pebbles in the Ripley Ville pond. Previous ripples felt now.

Copyright R L (Bob) Walker. All rights reserved (see side bar right →)

This post looks to the future for this WordPress hosted rediscovering Ripleyville web-site, blog posts and the rediscovering Ripleyville project. It reveals a plan to gradually move most of its content. This will be split between TWO NEW Ripleyville web-sites. It also notes two events that suggest small changes may be occurring in how Bradford’s Victorian Heritage offer is made. These give encouragement for future activities around rediscovering Ripleyville.

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1850s Lustrous Orleans : natural or dyed alpaca worsted?

Copyright R L (Bob) Walker 2015 All rights reserved. (see sidebar right →)

Ripley Ville was the last of the Victorian industrial model villages to be built in the old West Riding of Yorkshire. Built between 1866 and 1881, it contained; Workmens Dwellings, a schools building and a school master’s house, an Anglican church, vicarage and alms houses. It was built across two sites to the north and south of Bowling Dyeworks in Bowling to the south of Bradford near what later became Bowling Park.

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This post looks again at the relationship between Bowling Dyeworks and Salts Mill in the mid-Victorian period. This is a largely unexplored relationship but what went on between the two businesses may help us understand why the industrial model villages of Ripley Ville and Saltaire were built, how they compare and how they were paid for. Because you are probably in holiday mood or even on holiday, the post also includes some photographs of alpacas. Most of these are of one being sheared. The more serious aim of the post is to set up a sequence of questions about how the mixed worsted cloths called ‘lustrous Orleans’ were finished. Three questions in that sequence are:-

In the mid 1840s,

  • Would the lustrous Orleans that used alpaca fibre have been dyed or not?
  • Would the dye for lustrous Orleans or other alpaca worsteds be applied to the fibres before weaving, or to the woven cloth?
  • Were Bowling Dyeworks and Messrs Ripley in Bowling likely to have done the dyeing for Salts Mill?
close up colour photograph of head of aplaca

Copyright R L Walker 2014

1840s Lustrous worsteds : natural or dyed alpaca fibre?

Salts Mill, Bowling Dyeworks and lustrous worsteds

Salts and lustrous Worsteds

Lustrous mixed worsted cloths of the mid-19th century that were produced in the Worsted District of Yorkshire used a lustrous fibre in the weft. This was commonly mohair and more famously, at Salts Mill, alpaca but could be angora, vicuna or other fibres. The lustrous weft was usually combined with a cotton warp to give a cloth strength. Aided by the fictionalised description given by Charles Dickens in ‘Household Words’, Titus Salt’s role in buying alpaca fibre at Liverpool Docks from ‘C W & F Foozle & Co’ and working out how to spin it are a staple of the Salts Mill story and part of the folklore of the industrial model village of Saltaire  – just as they were in Worstedopolis (mid to late Victorian Bradford) a century and a half ago. (see Holroyd A, 1973,  pages 9-12)

Alpaca fibre has properties that make it attractive for many reasons. In the mid-nineteenth century it was its lustrous quality and ‘shades and tints’, that led demand in womenswear and fashion cloths.

One of the best contemporary accounts, from Abraham Holroyd, makes this clear. (Holroyd A 1873 page 29)

From page 29, 'Saltaire and its Founder' Abraham Holroyd orig 1873, republished June 2000

From page 29, ‘Saltaire and its Founder’ Abraham Holroyd orig 1873

 Bowling Dyeworks and lustrous worsteds

The Bowling Dyeworks story and its mid century dominance in worsted dyeing was achieved in two-stages;

circa 1830s : achievement of speed, colour fastness and matching in dyeing worsteds black and most particularly for bombazine and cloths of the range that mixed cotton warps and silk in the weft. (1)

circa 1840s : the dyeing of mixed worsteds in the piece (after weaving) across an increasing range of colours. This included the new lustrous Orleans cloths as they were developed and became fashionable.

It is clear that by the early 1880s Bowling Dyeworks was majoring in dyeing mohair fibre and cloths. But what were Edward Ripley & Son doing from the mid 1840s either within their own works or premises available to them?

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Protected: Missing : the Colour Supplement in Bradford’s Heritage offer – Part 2

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Protected: Missing : the Colour Supplement in Bradford’s heritage offer – Part 1

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Cloth & Memory {2} : Mutable Frame of Reference

Mutable Frame of Reference : inside viewMaxine Bristow’s work ‘Mutable Frame of Reference – Installation – Material’, in the Cloth & Memory {2} exhibition in the Spinning Room at Salt’s 1853 Mill, is conceptually challenging. This post gives a personal but historically contexted reading of the installation that acknowledges the fluid frames, mutability and associative resonances of the work. Through these readings and the memories that the structural frameworks and curtaining evoke, the post settles, unsettlingly, on ideas of ‘warded’ space. From there it moves on to an account of an incident in the early 1860s when the ‘Lancashire Cotton Famine’ was near its peak and then comes back by way of the worsted trade to Bowling Dyeworks, the industrial model village of Ripley Ville and Salts Mill.

This is the second in a series of four posts on the Cloth & Memory {2} exhibition. A previous post has reviewed 6 other exhibits adding a commentary, in the form of supplements, that make connections between the exhibits and worsted dyeing, Bowling Dyeworks and Bradford’s ‘other’ industrial model village; Ripley Ville.

Theoretical underpinning

A future post ‘Colour Supplement’ engages with the theoretical positions that inform Maxine Bristow’s work (see Cloth & Memory {2}, page 38) and within their context uses the idea of ‘the supplement’ to critique Bradford’s understanding of its Victorian history and what this means for its heritage offer. This post revolves around and then enters into the exhibit to settle, unsettlingly on the idea of warded space. This is an idea that connects to the theory of a  ‘surveillance and a carceral society’ , associated with Michel Foucault and his account of structural (epistemic} changes in the relations between state, society and the individual in the early 19th century.

Cloth & Memory {2} : Mutable Frame of Reference

Occupying a central space in the Spinning Room of Salts 1853 Mill in Saltaire, Maxine Bristow’s work ‘Mutable Frame of Reference – Installation – Material’ is designed to be conceptually challenging.  It is one of 23 exhibits in the Cloth & Memory {2} exhibition that runs for its final week until Sunday, November 3rd.

View of whole installation : Mutable Frame of Reference

Image : copyright R L Walker 2013

At a distance, in spite of its central location, the tonal values of the cloths and the runs of matt metal rails allow an assimilation of the installation to the space of the Spinning Room. Approached, incongruities appear. The ‘Scandinavian’ blond-wood, the bent-wood components and smaller dimensions of the railings suggest technologies and a modern structure from the late 1950s or 1960s, certainly from a period that came after the hundred years when the Mill was in its prime.

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Protected: Cloth & Memory (2) : Absence makes the craft’s case stronger

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