A Trip to the Finishers


I made a trip this week to visit our fabric finishers in the Scottish Boarders. It was a marathon day on the railway, but wonderful to while away the hours as the train sped through the early spring landscapes along the East Coast Line.

The finishers are based in a collection of listed nineteenth century industrial buildings. The neighbouring river - which was once the power source for the whole plant, still supplies the thousands of gallons of water used every week.

I love mill visits - the whole Charlie and the Chocolate Factory feel of all the machines, the noise, the smells and the steam.

The menu of finishing techniques is huge, and the equipment ranges from nineteenth century presses through to twenty-first century decatisers. Whatever the machine though, they seem to be all painted in that most characteristic of industrial hammerite greens.

Alongside the newest techniques are some surprisingly unchanged methods. Much of the raising, for example is still done with teasels - mounted in their thousands onto great rollers. Apparently there are no man-made wire brushes that match the subtlety and performance of natural teasels. These ones are grown commercially for the purpose in Spain and Italy, and are much firmer than a common or garden thistle.

All in all a grand day out.

Eleanor Pritchard