Staff at the town’s award-winning Museum of Carpet are celebrating after being awarded £4,000 from the TUUT Charitable Trust to support its ‘Weaving Futures; Woven Pasts’ education project. The application for the grant was backed by the Community Union, whose Lead Organiser, Gavin Miller, a well-known face in the carpet industry, wrote a letter of support.
Community, the successor to the Power Loom Carpet Weaver and Textile Union (PLCWTWU) was originally involved in establishing the educational charity in 2012. The trade union is keen to ensure that the many paper records and documents held by the Museum that relate to the original trade union, the Weavers’ Association, and the infamous weavers strikes that occurred in the town in 1828, are available to the public.
Paul Mills, incoming President of Community, and a member of staff at Brinton’s, was pleased that the TUUT Charitable Trust – the philanthropic arm of the trades unions – had made this award. He said, ‘This museum holds the heritage of the carpet industry in its hands and brings to life the craft skills of carpet weaving that have almost disappeared as a result of globalization. Social history is writ large as volunteer weavers, pickers and creelers talk about their own pasts and celebrate the impact on the town and its people of this once world-beating industry. Museums like this that celebrate our industrial history must be supported and encouraged.’
Paul is pictured here with Marion Colverd, General Manager, TU Fund Managers’ Limited, and Gavin Miller, Lead Organiser, Community.
The project aims to help keep alive the craft skills involved in weaving carpet which is especially important in the wake of recent job losses and closures of production lines in the town. Part of the money will also be used to help recruit more volunteers, like Audrey Weeks, who joined the team after a working life spent on the Axminster loom and now helps deliver demonstrations on the Museum’s two looms on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. As well as showing the craft skills involved in weaving, visitors can purchase rugs in the shop, and the proceeds of these go to help keep the Museum open.