Trowbridge Museum is the the county’s only specialist textile museum. We have a wealth of exhibits on display telling the story of the development of the woollen trade in the area, and we aim to provide accurate and up-to-date information on the local woollen industry and we take pride in the information that we can provide.

Visit Trowbridge Museum, which is in this last mill, to see a range of machines used in the local cloth making industry. The earliest a wooden spinning jenny from the 1790s and the latest a Hattersley loom which is still in use. Cloth is still being made in Trowbridge!

Ivan Weaving

Ivan Clark, our former weaver, demonstrating the Hattersley loom

Cloth making gradually became mechanised and factory based but the industry declined and the last mill in Trowbridge closed in 1982. However, before then, Trowbridge had been a centre for the weaving industry for centuries. By 1500, unfinished white broadcloth was an important export from West Wiltshire. This was a cottage industry where the weaver worked at home, helped by his family who did spinning and winding. Some weavers’ houses with large top floor windows still survive in Trowbridge.

Weavers houses in Trowbridge – note the wide windows on the top floor

Many jobs gave their names to the people who did the work. Names such as Weaver, Fuller, Walker, Shearer and Tucker all originate in the cloth trade. Where did these names come from, and what did people do? What tools did they use, and how did mechanisation change the job? Visit Trowbridge Museum to learn about this and more!