Production of eco ‘forty mile fleece’ cloth supported by council

An innovative textile project which is celebrating the rich textile history of the region through the production of a high-quality ‘forty mile fleece’ eco cloth is being supported by Leeds City Council.

Showcasing the very best of the skills, heritage and modern day innovation that exists in Yorkshire’s woollen and clothing manufacturing industry, the cloth is using only British wool with an enviable eco pedigree that considers the environmental impact of its production. In recognition of the Tour de France arriving in the county later this year, the project has been christened the ‘Tour de Fleece’.

Developed by designer Susan Gaunt, who is working closely with Suzy Shepherd of Leeds Fashion Works and Yorkshire Textiles, the group is using the expertise of Laxton’s Mill in Guiseley, bespoke tailors ‘Carl Stuart’ of Ossett and textile finishers WT Johnson of Huddersfield to produce the cloth.

The talents of a young designer and cutter at Samuel Bros in Leeds have also been used to create ladies jackets from the ‘forty mile fleece’ and in a special one-off production a jacket was also made for Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Gary Verity by tailors ‘Carl Stuart’ of Ossett.

Funded by Leeds City Council as part of its work to support the textile sector and supported by Welcome to Yorkshire, this project sits aside the development of the ‘Armley Mills Cloth’ currently being created at Leeds Industrial Museum which is using the machinery of a 1921 Hattersley ‘Standard Loom’ at Armley Mills.

Set to be made available in a number of colourways, the production of the cloth will also enable textile students to have hands on experience of the weaving and design process and learn the skills and creative processes needed to produce woollen and worsted woven textiles.

Boasting a rich history in textiles, the industry still employs 14,000 people within the Leeds City Region and is also home to over 60% of the UK’s textile fibre preparation and spinning and finishing.

For further information, please contact Suzy Shepherd at: suzy.shepherd@dsl.pipex.com

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for leisure and skills said:

"The specialist skills which are needed on a project such as this one are a real testament to the tremendous history, tradition and innovation which exists in Yorkshire’s manufacturing and textiles industry. It’s brilliant to see the heritage and skills of years gone by influencing work going on today and in the future."

Suzy Shepherd, one of the founders of Leeds Fashion Works and Yorkshire Textiles said:

"We have been working closely with Leeds Industrial Museum and drawn on their partnership with Bradford Industrial Museum to ensure an authentic heritage weave – this cloth truly represents Yorkshire."

Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire said:

"It’s great to see Yorkshire’s heritage and home grown wools being combined and crafted into something that reflects just that. Our county is famous for its countryside and agriculture, so to have a product that is eco-friendly and 100% uniquely Yorkshire is great news."

Notes to editors:

Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills:

Housed in what was once the world's largest woollen mill, Leeds Industrial Museum houses a wealth of gems located in a beautiful riverside setting. Step back in time to learn about the industrial history of Leeds from manufacturing textiles and clothing to printing, engineering and locomotives, which the city was world famous for.

There is no additional charge for visiting this exhibition. Normal admission charges apply.

Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills is open at the following times:

Monday: Closed except for bank holidays. Bank holiday Mondays 10:00 - 17:00. Last admission at 16:00

Tuesday to Saturday: 10:00 - 17:00. Last admission at 16:00

Sunday: 13:00 - 17:00. Last admission at 16:00

For further information visit our website www.leeds.gov.uk/armleymills

For media enquiries, please contact;

Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk