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This progranmme looks at the unique development of industrialisation on the island of Harris and Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. It traces the introduction of hand loom weaving under the influence of ...John Ruskin's ideas; and the development of that into the present flourishing industry. The film concentrates on the extraordinary compromise whereby the wool is spun and prepared by machine processes in a factory while still being sent out to the crofts where weavers weave the cloth on hand-operated machines.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: A101, An arts foundation course
Item code: A101; 21
First transmission date: 19-07-1978
Published: 1978
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:32
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Producer: Paul Kafno
Contributors: D. J.(Donald J.) Chisholm; Sandy Matheson
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Cloth manufacture; Harris; Hebrides; Lewis; Sandy Matheson
Footage description: The programme opens with views of Lewis and Harris over which a traditional 'WauIking Song' is heard. Brown briefly describes the topography and climate of the island. Shots of Callanish Bronze Age stone circle. Film of Lewis Castle, over which Brown describes the activities of Sir John Matheson. Shots of the harbour at Stornoway. Interview with Sandy Matheson, Provost of the island's council, who describes the island's economic pluralism and its population imbalance. Film of crofts and peat-cutting, over which Brown comments on this activity. Matheson indicates a drawback of the croft system. Film of Leverhulme's failed whaling station on the island, which Brown describes in voice-over. Film of a crofter dyeing and spinning wool in open countryside, and then weaving at home. Brown describes the rise of this cottage industry in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Shots of boat-building. An interview John Dunningham, Fisheries Officer, describes the traditional place of fishing in the island's economy, as well as recent changes. Shots of fishing boats in Stornoway harbour. Over footage of a fish auction Brown outlines the process by which the fish are distributed. In interview Matheison comments on the prosperity of the Harris Tweed industry. Film of various processes at Mackenzie's Mill in Stornoway, where Rae Mackenzie is interviewed. He describes the process whereby raw wool is got ready for weaving. The mill is highly mechanised, but theweaving must be done by hand. Film of crofter Neil Stewart weaving wool. He describes the way in which he shares his time between weaving and farming. Mackenzie describes the process whereby wool is checked and darned when returned from the crofters to the mill. Film of this and of the Harris Tweed Association stamping finished cloth. Mackenzie comments on the possibility of mechanising weaving. Over a montage of shots of mechanised wool production, Brown describes an attempt in the early 1970's to automate weaving. This failed due to opposition from the weavers. In interview their union leader Donald Chisholm explains the fears of the weavers. Final shots include crofts, peat-cutting, Stornoway harbour and ferry. Brown briefly sums up. Waulking song. Credits
Master spool number: 6HT/72875
Production number: 00525_3438
Videofinder number: 2612
Available to public: no