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Industrial loom training at Bristol Weaving Mill supported by UKFT’s Young Textile Technician Fund


Fiona Ward, aged 27 and a Production Manager, and Alice Newton, aged 27 and an Artisan Production Weaver, both received in-depth training on the Dornier industrial loom at Bristol Weaving Mill though UKFT’s Young Textile Technician Fund.

Designed to allow businesses across the UK to train their young textile technicians, the fund covers 50% of the cost of in-depth training thanks to the support of The Worshipful Company of Weavers, The Worshipful Company of Clothworkers and The Worshipful Company of Drapers.

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Fiona Ward, Production Manager at Bristol Weaving Mill.


Established in 2015, Bristol Weaving Mill blurs the lines between industrial processes and the craft of woven textiles. The company provides design, sampling and manufacturing services for woven fabrics and soft accessories. It designs and produces small production runs of cloth and products, including blankets, shawls and scarves.

Fiona Ward (27 – Production Manager) and Alice Newton (27 – Artisan Production Weaver) benefited from UKFT’s Young Textile Technician Fund to undertake in-depth training on the Bristol Weaving Mill’s Dornier weaving machine.

Fiona comes from a background in textile design, which she studied at Falmouth University, specialising in woven textiles and receiving a First-class honours degree. She explained:

“Coming from a design background and studying Textile Design at university, I discovered a love of industrial weaving from visiting many mills around the country before starting to Work for Bristol Weaving Mill. Where I have put this love of industrial weaving and Weave design into practice.”

Alice also studied Textile Design at university. She said:

“I studied Textile Design at De Montfort University, so having such a woven textile-based job is really my dream! Learning more about industrial processes, including industrial weaving (as opposed to hand weaving, which is what I focused on during my degree) has been extremely fascinating. The difference in scale, how processes work, how to use all the different equipment etc. has been eye opening.”

Alice Newton, Artisan Production Weaver at Bristol Weaving Mill.


The training took place over two days at Bristol Weaving Mill’s micro-mill based in Bristol, which features a single Dornier industrial loom. Fiona said:

“The Bristol Weaving Mill is run by a small team of Designers who have learned and developed the skills needed to run and achieve a working Weaving mill in the centre of Bristol.

From a client’s concept we design and sample on hand looms to then production weave woven fabric, throws and cushions for some of the UK’s leading home interior brands, as well as producing limited edition small-runs for designer-makers, flock owners and artists.

Weaving bespoke runs on our Dornier Industrial Loom lovingly named ‘Dorian’.”

Fiona Ward, Production Manager at Bristol Weaving Mill.


The training was delivered to both Fiona and Alice, by Colin Haworth, an experienced weaving service engineer from the textile machinery company Allertex. Fiona said:

“We received 2 days of training by Colin Haworth from Allertex. Colin has been an incredible help over the last few years while we continue to experiment with the cloths, yarns and structures. As we are based in the South away from the rest of the weaving industry, Colin has been an incredible lifeline to have him visit and spend full days learning new and more in-depth parts of the loom each training opportunity.

As an older loom, he comes with never ending quirks and problems of wearing parts that we have learnt to find within the loom and problem solve. Both Alice and I have become very good and proficient at finding the problem areas that Colins knowledge then helps us to solve if we haven’t figured them out ourselves yet.”


The training on the Dornier weaving machine involved:

  • Identifying areas of worn parts
  • Looking at the dobby system and how it all interacts
  • Taking out and oiling the shafts
  • Taking out and checking over the rapiers and rapier heads, also realigning the rapier tracks
  • Greasing and oiling off all moving parts and nipples
  • Looking at the positions of the back let off system and beam rollers that affected the warp tension

Alice Newton, Artisan Production Weaver at Bristol Weaving Mill.


Alice said:

“Having a Dornier Technician visit us at Bristol Weaving Mill is incomparable – the vast knowledge they have is amazing. Sometimes looking at the loom manual just doesn’t cut it! We have yearly maintenance and training weeks, where we strip the loom down to enable us to perform essential maintenance, while learning more about the loom. The main areas we covered this time were: investigating the dobby attachment mechanism for miss-lifts, adding more shafts to the loom and repairing the rapier track.

We will be able to resolve issues going forward in house, making us much more efficient. This will help us to keep on track with production. Each loom has its own quirks, so it’s important for us to understand our loom (affectionately called Dorian), so he can run in the most efficient way possible.

The more knowledge we gain, the more we will be able to fix issues in house, rather than requiring Dornier technicians to visit, saving time and money.

We only have one power loom, so it is essential that he is kept in the best possible condition. The Bristol Weaving Mill would be very different without him!”


The Young Textile Technician Fund is now open to businesses applying to train textile technicians under the age of 35. To find out more, email paula.mcilwraith@ukft.org or click on the link below: