The Museum Collection: the woollen cloth industry


Al the toun of Bradeford stondith by clooth-making -John Leland c1540

Much of Bradford’s past prosperity and many of the fine buildings in the town and vicinity were due to the woollen cloth industry. Visitors who have heard of this are often surprised that there is so little in the Museum to show for it.

This situation is due to the industry having died out in Bradford in 1905 after decades in which it had been declining and was being replaced by rubber manufacture. Very little except the buildings had survived by the time the Museum opened in 1990.

The industry survived until 1985 in nearby Trowbridge and Trowbridge Museum is the place to learn about making woollen cloth in western Wiltshire and to see machinery and other related artefacts.

weaving machinery, Greenland MillsWeaving machinery in about 1900. This could only have been at Applegates’ factory at Greenland Mills, the last Bradford woollen cloth mill, which closed in 1905.

Wool-related work beyond this date was the shredding of woollen clothing to grind into flock. This survived until the Second World War at Avoncliff.



Woolsack delivery to Beavens' Beavens' wool departmentAnother wool-related operation continued at the Beavens’ factory at Holt until 1954. Wool came from farmers for sorting and grading before being sent elsewhere for weaving. After 1954 fleeces went instead to the Farmer Federation (Wool) Ltd. at Bridgwater and Taunton in Somerset.

> Bradford woollen cloth mills and factories



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