Weaving Voices continues

One Man & His Sheep A tale of convicts, tea clippers and royalty

November 16th, 2023

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On Saturday we were delighted to invite local spinner and historian, Irene Froome to the Archive to talk about how one man from Farsley changed the face of the textile industry in West Yorkshire.  The event is one of our ‘Weaving Voices’ programme here in the Archive which will present a series of talks by artists, historians, digital creators and more, aiming to prove that the Archive is not just dusty old stuff!

Irene shared with us the fascinating story of Samuel Marsden, Farsley and Merino wool and how they influenced the development of a Yorkshire industry; a tale of convicts, sea faring and royalty.

There is a memorial to Samuel Marsden on Town Street, here in Farsley, his birthplace. In the late 1700s.

He was appointed Chaplain to the penal settlement in Sydney and when he returned to the UK to report on the progress of the colony, he brought with him fleeces from his own hardy sheep stock w2hich were woven into Worsted Suit cloth at Parks Mill in Rawdon. During his visit, he wore a suit made from the cloth on a visit to King George III, who was so impressed with the quality of the worsted cloth that he gave Marsden 5 Merino sheep rams from his experimental farm at Windsor to take back to Australia and introduce into his stock. And so, the journey of the wool began.

The Merino sheep flourished in the Australian climate and thus Samuel Marsden founded one of the major Australian industries.

By the 1880’s, tea clippers were making journeys across from New South Wales to Hull in record passage times of between 73 to 77 days and despite their name, were carrying more wool than tea; Merino wool direct from New South Wales to the mills of Yorkshire where it was the main ingredients for the Fine Worsted suit cloth produced here at Sunny Bank Mills.

After the talk everyone was free to wander and explore the Archive and see for themselves how much it has to offer proving the point thats its not just old stuff!

If you would like to attend some of the other ‘Weaving Voices’ events be sure to visit the Collection at Eventbrite here where you can book tickets.  At present we have events confirmed until March 2023, with more to be added soon.  So whether you want to find out how the Archive has influenced glass blowers, digital media artists or how paper conservators have worked,  watch this space!

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