Wool & Textiles History Tour – 3 Day Tour
A three day tour of Yorkshire exploring Yorkshire’s wool and textiles heritage. Over the tour we will explore how wool exports led to the growth of England’s economy during medieval times and their importance in establishing the power of the church through the monastic expansion.
We will then take a look at the early textile industry where production of cloth was a home based industry and pieces of cloth were taken and traded in the local cloth halls, establishing a thriving merchant class.
From here our tour takes us through early industrialization to mass production in coal powered mills where all the production processes took place under one roof. We’ll look at some of the social history associated with the growth of the textile industry taking a look around a model village set up by an early philanthropist.
Day 1 – Wool – Medieval & Monastic importance
Wool has always been an important commodity in Yorkshire from before Roman times with the domestication of sheep.
Today we will head out to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Fountains Abbey, whose growth and power was built on the back of wool.
Monasteries built huge flocks based on donations of land and sheep – grazed on land in the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales. We will take a tour of the Abbey and discover how the medieval monks lived.
We will then head into the Yorkshire Dales – where will see plenty of sheep as well as seeing some of the granges and ancient trackways used by the Monks.
Most wool was exported to the continent especially to Flanders with English weavers only making clothes for their families. Wool exports were taxed and created income for the crown – the Lord Chancellor in the House of Lords still sits on a wool sack cloth as a reminder of where the wealth of England came from.
Later in the day we will head to York – one of the Yorkshire cities which dominated the trade in wool, and later with its strong guilds controlled the making of textiles including the crafts of spinning, weaving and dyeing.
Overnight - Leeds
Day 2 – The home weaving industry and the Piece Halls
Our day involves a trip to Calderdale to explore the start of the home based hand weaving industry.
As wool exports dropped under the reign of Edward III, Flemmish weavers started to settle in England and textile production as a home industry increased.
We will learn about the weaving trade where wool was carded and spun at home, then woven into “a piece” of cloth which was bought to town and sold – leaving money for food and to buy some more raw wool.
We will visit Heptonstall with its old weavers cottages and one of the earliest Piece Halls before heading to Halifax to see the Grade I listed magnificent architectural huge Piece Hall – tracing the industry’s growth and the role of the wealthy merchant.
Overnight - Leeds
Day 3 – The Industrial Revolution & Textile Production
Today we will spend our time in the West Riding – looking at some of the huge Victorian Mills which during the Industrial Revolution completely changed the textile industry from a home based industry to combining all the processes under one roof.
We will visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Saltaire, a model village built by Yorkshire industrialist Titus Salt, who by improving workers living conditions through his philanthropy helped increase his production. Salts Mill was once the world’s largest textile mill – the building is now an art gallery dedicated to local artist David Hockney as well as having some interesting local craft shops and independent café’s and restaurants.
We will also have time to visit either Leeds or Bradford Industrial Museums - to see and hear about the machinery which revolutionized the making of cloth. Learning about the social implications of the workforce too.
Our tour ends with a visit to a local Yorkshire clothing provider to see how the industry in prospering still today, all be it on a smaller scale.
Overnight - Leeds