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Historic Whitchurch Silk Mill in line for ‘Oscar of the Museums World’

Fingers crossed for the team at the fantastic historic working Whitchurch Silk Mill, who are on the shortlist for a prestigious award.

Known as the Oscars of the Museums' World, the Museums + Heritage Awards celebrate the best in museums, galleries, cultural, and heritage visitor attractions.

Whitchurch Silk Mill: Shannon Bye, Weaver Tackler, Nigel Spender of G&H Spender Engineering, and Be Agnew, Trainee
Whitchurch Silk Mill: Shannon Bye, Weaver Tackler, Nigel Spender of G&H Spender Engineering, and Be Agnew, Trainee

Over the past months, hundreds of entrants from around the country have been battling it out for 19 prestigious awards, and the Weavers of Whitchurch Silk Mill, who are keeping alive the critically endangered craft of silk ribbon weaving, have been shortlisted for the 2024 Museum Team of the Year.

This gem of industrial heritage, Whitchurch Silk Mill is situated on the picturesque banks of the River Test. Built in 1815, it is now a living museum, with a working waterwheel still operating in the original Georgian building.

Using Victorian and early 20th-century machinery, a small team of highly skilled weaver tacklers uses traditional silk weaving skills to create beautiful, artisan cloth.

Earlier this year, Silk Ribbon Weaving was listed as a critically endangered craft and added to the Red List by the Heritage Craft Association. There are only four silk ribbon weavers left in the UK, with Whitchurch Silk Mill employing one of them.

Ribbons woven at Whitchurch Silk Mill have been worn by actors in many well-known films and television shows, including Sense & Sensibility, Titanic and many more.

Heritage weaving manager Shannon Bye said: "Our team of weavers is the core of everything we do at Whitchurch Silk Mill and has been since the mill was built in 1815.

“They contribute to the success of the mill in so many ways, from our Whitchurch Silk brand to our visitor experience and the care and conservation of our historic machinery collection.

“The mill's future is reliant on the skills and passion of the team here to pass on the skills to future generations of weavers who will ensure a resilient path forward over the next 200 years."

Whitchurch Silk Mill preserves traditional heritage silk weaving skills by weaving on looms dating back to the 1890s and maintaining a collection of historic machinery.

Operating as a museum while still weaving silk for today's market, Shannon and her team are securing the future of the methods, skills, traditions, and knowledge that have existed at the Mill since 1815.

The Mill has been shortlisted alongside the Foundling Museum Operations Team, Tower Bridge Technical Team, the Powell-Cotton Museum Skulls' on the move' team and the No.1 Royal Crescent Front of House Team.

The winners will be announced at a glittering live ceremony on Wednesday, May 15.

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