Cat no. 579

Weaving Mill

Sound c.1936 Halstead, Essex

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Weaving processes at Town Mill, Halstead


HistoryIndustrial / Sponsored Film

This film opens with exterior shots of the weatherboard mill on the River Colne at Halstead. Inside the mill the film shows many of the processes used in weaving rayon. The yarn is wound from bobbins onto spools. These are placed on the shuttles to form the weft yarn to go in and out of the vertical thread. (Warp yarn, TK.) There are shots of these processes in operation and a shot of the spools. In the bobbin department bobbins are placed on a wooden frame, called a creel. This is used to produce a sheet of warp yarn at a rate of 80 yards per minute. The hand processing required in preparing threads is shown. Two women workers sit at a frame and there is a close-up shot of their hands as they work to show the skill and speed of their work. There is a shot of the machines weaving and then the material passes through a measuring machine. It is inspected by two women workers who pick off the loose threads by hand.

Background Information:

The first weavers were recorded in Halstead in 1559 when immigrant Flemish weavers set up trade in the town. The Courtauld family opened their first mill in the area at Pebmarsh in 1798. In 1825 they converted Town Mill, a corn mill, and began spinning silk. In 1828 they moved over to steam power. This was partly because a court action regarding water rights was decided against the company. Halstead was an attractive area in which to operate. Firstly, there was a supply of female and child labour. 83% of the labour force at Halstead in 1838 was female. 92% in 1886 and 86% in 1899. Secondly there were many unemployed handloom weavers. Initially they wove the silk cloth that was 'put out' to them at home. By 1838, Halstead had moved over to the use of power looms. Then the men worked in the factory, de-skilled and lower paid. By 1840, there were 240 power looms at work in the Halstead Mill. By 1907, 150 looms at Halstead were weaving viscose fabrics. Automatic silk looms were ordered in 1925, although possibly not installed for several years. Halstead Mill was closed in 1982, causing 216 redundancies along with 42 at Bocking and 20 at the company's Halstead headquarters. Rayon was patented by Joseph Swan in 1883. The idea was not developed by the textile industry until the early years of the twentieth century.


This film was released for the market on 9.5 mm as an Ace Cine Magazine. T.9555 ARTY EGG-SAMPLES - GB 1937 1 reel Dec39 GB May 1937 - Series 1 No.16 Directed by Sherwin Green. Photography - C.S. Malborough, B. Hulme. Music - Rex Burrows Research - Belina Byrne. Recordist - V.S. Sawyer * Norah Nichol making artificial flowers from egg shells * Weaving Mill at Halstead in Essex * {Fashions in Lingerie} * Bodiam Castle, Sussex * Audrey Parker sings "One Kiss Before We Part"

Featured Organisations:

Courtaulds plc

Featured Buildings:

Town Mill, Halstead

Courtaulds Film Unit

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