Shuttles & Shafts

Last Friday the Linen Biennale team had the pleasure of celebrating with Shuttles & Shafts in Dunacloney Orange Hall.  This amazing project documented the heritage of Wm Liddell & Co in Donacloney.

The Heritage Lottery funded project ‘Reviving William Liddell’s Damask Designs’ concerns a unique collection of 1600 photographic glass plates discovered in 2007 during the dismantling of the Ewart-Liddell factory at Donacloney, County Down. The photographs document the design and development work for Liddell’s Damask patterns. This work represents the labour of a highly skilled workforce of designers, draughtsmen and women and weavers working for the company during the years 1900’s to 1970’s. The project team from the Belfast School of Art, Ulster University comprises of Senior Research Fellow Trish Belford and Professor Barbara Dass.

Most of Northern Ireland’s linen industrial heritage has been sold, lost or destroyed. In 2007 a large collection of the plates used in the printing process was found abandoned in the old Co Armagh factory of the William Liddell Company, which in its time was one of the world’s largest privately owned linen manufacturers.

Patricia Belford, Lead researcher, Ulster University’s Belfast School of Art

The William Liddell Company was founded in 1866, a time when Belfast was the largest linen‑producing centre in the world. In 1908 the company took part in the British-Franco Exhibition and won the prestigious gold medal for bringing linen from field to home. In 1973 William Ewart & Sons and William Liddell & Co merged to become Ewart Liddell and were acquired as part of the Coats Viyella Group. At the turn of the century Baird McNutt bought the company renaming it Liddell Limited. In 2004 the company was acquired by Hilden Manufacturing Ltd. In 2008 Vision Support Services acquired Hilden and Liddell.

More information and images can be found at shuttlesandshafts



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