Keeping the Cotton Industry’s Heritage Alive

We’re doing our bit to support the British cotton industry’s heritage by teaming up with Quarry Bank.

The National Trust property in Styal, Cheshire is a working museum of the Industrial Revolution and spins its own supply of cotton with the historical machinery it houses.

Staff use it to produce tea towels and other products, which they sell in their gift shop to help fund the conservation of the Quarry Bank.

But the waste cotton they’ve been using is full of seed, so we’ve given them some of our comber noil – a by-product of the cotton spinning process – to help improve the quality of their yarns.

A quality boost

Quarry Bank’s technical demonstrations manager, Claire Brown, explained: “We’ve been using waste cotton sourced from cotton markets, but it’s difficult to remove the seed and waste with our machines here.

“So, we’ve been mixing 50% of our cotton with 50% of the comber noil and the result has been great.

“The quality of the yarns we produce has really improved. The tea towels and fabrics are much softer and we’re hoping they will sell really well.

“We’re delighted with the comber noil and really pleased to be working with English Fine Cottons. It’s great that the old and the new can work together like this.”

Our comber noil is collected from the comber on the ground floor at Tower Mill, where all our cotton is prepared for spinning.

The comber removes shorter fibres from the cotton sliver making it more uniform, which results in a more even and lustrous yarn.

But the removed fibres – comber noil – aren’t waste, they are still very useful.

Our technical manager, Mark Dentith, said: “Comber noil is often used for producing open ended (OE) yarns and is even used in the production of bank notes.

“The cotton we use is extra long staple (ELS) Supima, so like our cotton yarns, our comber noil is a really high quality.”

An historic partnership

Staff at both Quarry Bank and Tower Mill are looking forward to an exchange of visits as part of our new found friendship.

And we’re talking about other possible ways of working together in the future.

English Fine Cottons’ general manager, Andy Ogden, said: “As Britain’s newest and only commercial cotton spinner, we’re really excited to be working with another working cotton mill – just down the road in Styal.”

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