Station: [11] Large Weaving Room

Meow, Meow, 

Well, big boy, what are you doing here? Didn't I tell you to go hunting mice?

Meow, and didn't I say, I'm feeling jolly queasy after all those mice, and I need a quiet place somewhere, and vast amounts of petting? 

Come here, then, and let me give you a tickle. 

There you go! You see, we're a good team after all, and I see you even found your glasses. But Anna, you look so sad.

Oh Moggie, sometimes I think you can read my mind. I’ve been seeing looms lying idle in some houses, and the sight of it makes me feel so down-hearted. I wish I could turn back time. The people who rebuilt this house were glad things were looking up again, after the great fire of 1849. They had no idea how quickly life would change. At first, industrialisation made a lot of things easier, of course. But not every innovation is an improvement. Do you understand what I’m saying, Mr. Mog? Linen weaving is an ancient traditional craft in Steinhude, and the people here managed to enable a real industry to grow up locally. They came together long ago and established a local weavers' guild to protect the craft in – let me think – 1728, that was.

Meow, don’t stop stroking, yeah, mmm, Meow.

But then cotton came on to the market, imported from the United States. And then the mechanical loom appeared here in Steinhude. That would have been roughly 10 years ago. Around 1890, it must have been – when the first power loom was set up here in Steinhude. That was in the big weaving shed, the one local people call the Bretthauer brothers’ weaving mill. Other big weaving mills, like Seegers, followed suit. The local handloom weavers can't compete. More and more have given up working from home and become wage earners at the mills. But the linen business is flourishing. Trousseau articles in particular, tablecloths, towels and of course doilies with the image of our beautiful island, Wilhelmstein. They’re all famous far beyond Steinhude. Demand is increasing, and more and more people are finding work at the weaving mills. But they don’t grow wealthy, and home-based handloom weaving and linen production involving the whole family – well, that’s dying out, and it makes me sad.  

Meow, not so much thinking, and more tickling! Meow!

Photo: © Fischer- und Webermuseum