Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kidderminster Carpets

Kidderminster was a weaving town, centred on the carpet industry. We had a school trip there c 1966 / 7, possibly Brintons. It was an eye opener that those attractive, spongy, cat-purring front room carpets were produced in a noisy, polluted, scary factory. I think Mathew and Son by Cat Stevens was playing on the radio at the time!

"From early times Kidderminster, on the River Stour, was a cloth producing town. One of its principal products was a heavy weight, multi-purpose material known as Kidderminster "Stuff".

In 1735 the first "Kidderminster" carpet was woven but soon after "Brussels" was introduced and the town's Masters quickly converted their handlooms to concentrate on carpet production.

The town's location in the centre of the country coupled with the expanding canal systems helped to rapidly develop and expand the industry and the town. Over the following years new weaves were introduced as the Masters invested in the latest technology. This brought problems and Kidderminster had its fair share of trouble and industrial unrest.

In the mid 1800s the Industrial Revolution brought in steam engines, power looms and the mills. The town rapidly expanded and the skyline changed as the factories were built.
  
The twentieth century witnessed the full development of the carpet industry. Two World Wars didn't help but the after war boom in the 1950s brought new prosperity to the workforce and the industry as new housing demanded "wall-to-wall" carpets. These were the halcyon days with investment by the industry and a programme of modernization by the Kidderminster Borough Council.
   
However, the boom period ended in the late 1970s as over production, new techniques and imports from abroad caused the industry to tighten its belt. Most companies restructured, some were involved with mergers and others failed to meet the challenge." 

From

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