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Weaving and Embroidery

An extract from the Victoria History of the County of Northamptonshire [1906]

[p.333] In the latter part of the seventeenth, the whole of the eighteenth, and the first two decades of the nineteenth centuries, weaving was extensively carried on in the district embraced by the parishes of Kettering, Rothwell, Desborough, Braybrooke, Little Bowden, and the neighbouring villages. The principle articles woven were tammies and shalloons. The former was a thin woollen material of  open texture used for straining purposes; it was also made into flags, often in bright colours. The latter was a coarse woollen stuff.

[p.334] About the year 1820 silk-weaving was introduced from Coventry to Desborough. At first the workers walked to Desborough and back again to Coventry, but small manufactories were soon started, and afterwards larger ones were built at Kettering, Rothwell, and Desborough, most of which are now used as shoe factories. The weaving was done on the old handloom, and despite the creation of the factories many of the workmen had looms in their own houses, whilst some of them used the jacquard looms for ornamental silks and velvets. The various kinds of articles woven in silk were coloured silk plushes, black plushes for silk hats, plain and colour silks, black and coloured velvets, figured velvets, terries, plain and figures satins. This industry employed a large number of hands in the three towns mentioned above, forming practically their staple trade; but owing to the keen competition of the French, silk-weaving gradually declined until it ceased about the year 1868, causing serious distress among the operatives.

... About 1830 the embroidery of nets for ladies' dresses was introduced from Nottingham at Rothwell, Desborough and Clipston. This trade supplanted the working of pillow lace, which had been extensively carried on in this part of the county. The material embroidered was cotton net for dresses, and later a silk net figured with very elaborate designs for ladies' veils.

This net embroidery flourished until about the year 1866. The very elaborate cloth waistcoats or vests that were in vogue during the first half of the nineteenth century were likewise embroidered at Desborough, but the industry died out with the fashion about 1850. There was also a considerable amount of linen spun and woven in this district.

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