Royal visit to Burnley weaving mill John Spencer Textiles
HRH The Princess Royal visited Burnley-based weaving mill John Spencer Textiles this week in her role as President of the UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT).
Her visit was in recognition of the passion and talent of the company’s owners and employees, and to mark the part they play in the continuation of the skills for which the town is known.
Next year sees the business celebrate 150 years of continuous production in Burnley. As the last remaining traditional cotton weaver in the region, John Spencer Textiles has survived the downturn of the industry, a devastating fire and remains one of the UK’s largest weaving businesses – the first in the UK to achieve Soil Association accreditation.
Speaking after the event David Collinge, the sixth member of the Spencer family to head up the business, said: “We are genuinely proud to be recognised in this way by The Princess Royal. It’s an important milestone for the town too. We are living proof that the industry can survive and thrive here. Cotton may be where this all started, but the future is very different for our business.”
Currently weaving fabrics for the Ministry of Defence (MOD), commercial and technical fabrics such as conductive cloth and Teflon, interior furnishings, fashion and bespoke cloth; the team at John Spencer Textiles are keen to expand the narrative of traditional cotton weaving into the very different business we see today.
“A visit like this gives us the chance to highlight the type of products that leave this business daily – destined for all corners of the globe, said Collinge. “From cloth components for nuclear submarine bearings to high-end luxury fashion fabrics. It’s not just about cotton, shuttles and heavy industry, our recent significant investments in advanced planning software and world-leading warping machinery allow us to advance the types of fabric we produce, I think people who visit the mill are shocked at just how high tech we are.”
Adam Mansell, CEO of the UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT), said: “John Spencer is a fantastic example of a manufacturer that is championing the UK’s rich manufacturing heritage while innovating for the future. This impressive mill makes fabrics for almost every area where textiles are used, and is exporting them around the world.”
It is a well-timed visit with the UK weaving industry as a whole seeing a marked difference in attitudes towards UK manufacturing.
Debbie Fish, Marketing Manager for Ian Mankin, John Spencer’s consumer-facing brand, said: “More businesses than ever are now looking to UK-based manufacturers, as demands from their customers change to low impact goods with traceability, they want to know where those fabrics are made and who made them. This isn’t only about ethics and sustainability, it’s also about excellent service.”
She continued: “As both a retail brand and manufacturer, we genuinely understand the power of influence we have in the supply chain to direct our customers towards well-made, well-sourced fabric and yarns. As a public-facing brand, we have a great platform on which to educate people about the benefits of buying well and buying once and reducing this flood of post-consumer textile waste.”
The Princess Royal unveiled a special woven plaque to commemorate the visit and was presented with a recycled cotton throw which is woven and hand-finished at John Spencer Textiles.