The Object Highlight for this week was chosen by Kathy one of our Museum Assistants.
The Rotary Fulling Machine
This ‘new’ type of fulling machine was invented and patented in Trowbridge by engineer John dyer in 1834. It gradually replaced the noisy larger fulling hammers as it was smaller, quicker and easier to work with.
The rotary machine compressed and compacted the cloth between rollers. When it entered the machine the cloth was sewn together at either end to form a loop, enabling it to go around the drums and through soap repeatedly. The length and width was frequently checked until it had achieved the shrinkage and appearance required.
Whilst ‘fulling’ the cloth is an ancient practice, the use of large hammers set in a fulling mill (running water used to ‘power’ the mechanism to lift the hammers) dates back to medieval times and arguably, could have been the very early start of the mechanisation of the woollen industry. The Rotary Fulling machine is a development from the use of hammers in fulling mills.