Paradise Mill Handloom Restoration Project

The Association for Industrial Archaeology has kindly funded a project to restore and conserve two of our demonstration Jacquard handlooms.


Why this project is important

Why this project is important

Keeping these 19th Century Jacquard handlooms in working order allows visitors to continue to experience the incredible sights and sounds of these historically important looms during our dynamic tours here in Paradise Mill.

This is the largest known collection of Jacquard handlooms, in their original location, in Europe. The Jacquard mechanism uses cards punched with holes to automate the process of weaving patterns. They are ‘programmable’ machines. It is a technology that laid the foundations for our digital age.

These looms tell remarkable stories of the Silk Industry in Macclesfield. It is essential that they are kept in working order. We need to keep alive the technical knowledge of how to care for and operate these machines so they can continue to inspire future generations of visitors for many years to come. 

The restoration work happening

The restoration work happening

The warp on our first demonstration loom was close to running out. The silk thread had also deteriorated with age. This was causing further problems with thread breakages and tangles.

Vanners Silk Weavers in Sudbury have wound a new warp for us and provided us with expert advice on threading the warp onto the loom, a process called ‘entering’.

Entering A New Warp

There are 4608 threads or ‘ends’ in this warp and they need to be entered in the correct order. In this video you we see the painstaking process of entering this new warp.

The restoration work happening

The restoration work happening

We refer to our other demonstration loom as the ‘David Jones’ loom. This is due to the design that the loom weaves via the set of punched cards installed on the Jacquard mechanism.

This loom is in a very poor state. An entire new harness (the cords that lift the warp threads) needs to be built and mounted onto the Jacquard mechanism. The loom also needs a new warp. This warp has 5760 threads.

The card set that automates the woven pattern will need copying and preserving so the loom can continue to produce this beautiful design.

David Jones studied at Macclesfield School of Art and created this design for his Intermediate City & Guilds examination.

Sleying the Reed

In this video we see the process of sleying the reed.

Tensioning The Warp

In this video we see the important process of tensioning the newly entered warp before it is attached to the cloth beam.