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A Brief History

Experimenting

Experimenting (Photo: Carole Bowman)

On 5 December 1953 fourteen enthusiastic weavers gathered at Kendal Friends Meeting House to form a Weavers’ Guild.  For several years they met, arranged courses and exhibitions.

The annual subscription was five shillings (25p).

The Principal of Lancaster Art College, who was a member of this group, initiated a meeting on the 21 March 1959 to form a guild with sixteen members and run by officers and a committee.

Monthly meetings were held at Lancaster College of Art, later at Grange-over-Sands and in members’ homes.

The annual subscription was ten shillings and sixpence (55p).

Each year a three-day school was arranged, tutors included many known to present members.  Visits were made to textile exhibitions, art galleries, and to see the work of students taught by Enid Russ at Liverpool.

In 1962 Penelope Porter was asked to become Chairman; she is well-remembered for her linen spinning and the quality of her weaving.

Miss Pearson was  Secretary, her woven interpretations of quotations from poetry were included in many guild exhibitions.

Dyed fleece and bobbin

Dyed fleece and bobbin (Photo: Ali Sharman)

In 1962 the guild joined the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.

Membership grew and it became impossible to meet in members’ homes so the guild moved to Milnthorpe  Community Centre in 1971.

Morning workshops were introduced with a visiting speaker in the afternoon, establishing a pattern we still follow.

By the late seventies members were travelling from north Cumbria, south Lancashire and the Yorkshire border and required more parking space.

With a membership of sixty to seventy the guild moved to Kirkland Hall, Kendal.

A library had been started at Milnthorpe with a modest collection of second-hand books.  New reference books were being written so an annual budget was allocated to purchase a selection which formed the foundation of the present magnificent textile library.

When Kirkland Hall parking area became expensive a decision was made to migrate to Yealand Village Hall where the guild has continued to flourish.

The membership has grown, our excellent programmes, regular courses and exhibitions alongside the enthusiasm of members exchanging stimulating ideas and techniques keep weaving, spinning and dyeing creatively active.

PEB,   May 2011