Museum of Carpet Q&A
As the only museum in the UK dedicated to celebrating the heritage of carpet, the Museum of Carpet in Kidderminster is home to an unrivalled archive and collection of objects which tell the story of the Worcestershire town went on to become the ‘Carpet Capital of the World’.
Over time, the processes behind the skill and craftsmanship of making carpet have changed, allowing for new and innovative developments within the industry.
Find out more about the history of the Museum of Carpet below.
1. What is the innovation behind the Museum of Carpet?
The Museum of Carpet is built upon the rich history of the carpet industry. From very early on, several of the towns in Worcestershire, including Worcester, had a connection to the cloth industry.
By the 1600’s, Kidderminster had established a thriving spinning and cloth weaving industry and had become known for a variety of cloths with names such as Linsey Woolseys, Cheneys, Damasks, Prunellas and several types of Crape. During this time, the area gained a national reputation for a woven product known as ‘Kidderminster Stuff’. It was a multi-purpose product, used as a covering for beds and furniture. It was also hung on the wall, used as curtains or it could be made into outer garments because of its warmth and durability.
In 1735, Pearsall and Broom developed the first carpets, known as ‘Kidderminster’ carpets. The carpet was flat, without a pile, but woven with double thickness, it was a natural progression from ‘Kidderminster Stuff’. It was an instant success and although the weave was not confined to Kidderminster, it was Kidderminster which made it famous and built its industry around it.
2. What does this mean for Worcestershire?
As Kidderminster gained notoriety as the carpet weaving capital of the world, it became yet another jewel in the crown of Worcestershire. Already rich with industries including cloth, glass making and porcelain, the development of the carpet industry in Kidderminster strengthened the economic and social prominence of the county.
3. What is the positive impact of this?
As a single industry town, at the height of its success, over 15,000 people relied on the carpet industry for a living. Generations of industry workers and their relatives still populate Kidderminster, and the Museum of Carpet was founded to celebrate Kidderminster’s rich industrial heritage. The remaining mills, tall chimneys and renovated factory buildings stand to remind future generations of the industry that put Kidderminster on the map.
4. What knowledge has been gained from this?
Kidderminster has become the source of information and expertise on Carpet manufacture and the industry as a whole. As a centre of heritage, art and industry, the Museum of Carpet celebrates the history of carpet design, the evolution of carpet manufacture and the heritage of the individuals who worked in the local industries.
5. What does the word ‘Innovation’ mean to you?
To us, innovation means iconic development.
From humble beginnings as a cloth-weaving town, Kidderminster forged its own future and notoriety as the carpet-weaving capital of the world through innovation. The development from hand looms to power loom weaving in Kidderminster is iconic. Over the years Kidderminster’s carpet masters developed their own weave, as well as weaving processes and companies that dominated the market. This is innovation of the highest degree.
6. How can people find out more?
People can find out more about Kidderminster’s innovative carpet industry by visiting the Museum of Carpet. Once a thriving carpet factory, the Stour Vale Mill is now home to the only Museum of Carpet in the country. Our galleries celebrate the heritage, art and industry of the town, while our talented team of volunteers spin wool, weave ‘Kidderminster stuff’ and produce Wilton & Axminster rugs on our 19th and 20th century looms. Behind the scenes the Museum archive contains over 27,500 objects.
Access to our archives as well as a brief history of Kidderminster and its industry is available on our website www.museumofcarpet.org. You can also find us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @museumofcarpet
WINN brings innovators together, acting as a catalyst to create connections and collaborations across the diverse business landscape of Worcestershire.
Our belief is that great things can happen when people get together.
WINN is a Worcestershire Innovation Programme formed by Worcestershire County Council and the Worcestershire LEP