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The Laxey Woollen Mills were established in 1881 by a Lancashire silk weaver called Egbert Rydings, who wanted to revive the traditional skills of woollen spinning and handloom weaving. At that time the local population, male and female, were otherwise mainly employed in the harsh environment of the nearby lead mines. With the support of prominent Victorian artist and writer John Ruskin and his Guild of St George the mills were converted from a corn mill to a water-powered woollen mill incorporating a dyeing, spinning and carding manufactory and became well-known for their high quality 'homespun' cloth. "From mountain track to wearers back" was their coined motto!

By the turn of the century though, the competition from imported synthetic fabrics proved too much and the mills resorted to using power looms. After the Second World War the business changed tack once again, handlooms were re-introduced and to this day they are the sole method of woollen fabric production at Laxey.

To celebrate the long and colourful history of the Mills, a local writer, Sue King, was commissioned to write a book entitled 'A Weaver's Tale - The Life & Times of the LaxeyWoollen Mills Industry 1860 - 2010'. In this book, Sue shares insight into the people who have worked there, as well as its strong links with Manx tourism, fashion and social change. Featuring original documents, photographs and personal memories, this story is a must-read!



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