Picture :  Lorne Campbell / Guzelian
Refurbishment work done to the outside of Wyedean Weaving, Haworth, West Yorkshire, and installation of solar panels.
Robin Wright, and daughter, Susannah Walbank.

Wyedean Weaving unveils £200k Haworth mill investment

A 150-year-old Grade II listed mill in Haworth has had a £200k facelift thanks to family business Wyedean Weaving.

Bridgehouse Mill was among the first water powered textile mills on the River Worth 1 and was pivotal in Haworth’s role in the industrialisation of the textile industry. Now home to Wyedean Weaving’s production of ceremonial military uniform accoutrement for armed and uniformed services at home and abroad, the mill, which is occupied by the company, has been future proofed for “the next 100 years”.

Led by Managing Director Robin Wright, the fourth generation family business has occupied Bridgehouse Mill since 1964 and just ahead of the company’s 60th anniversary, has invested £160k in essential modernisation including the installation of solar panels which are expected to generate around 90% of the building’s total electrical energy consumption.

Robin Wright said: “This has been a two-year project, supported by £42k of grant funding from the Keighley Towns Fund. As a local family, we have operated out of Bridgehouse Mill for almost 60 years and are committed to maintaining its important role in this community by continuing its 150-year legacy as a manufacturer and an employer.”

The improvement works include solar panel installation, roof insulation, new lighting – including replacing some original lights which were first used to provide good natural light for the final inspection process of newly woven cloth – replacing 60% of external windows, double glazing, blast cleaning of stonework, external paintwork and the replacement of the original finial at the highest point of the mill.

Robin added: “This is stage one of our two-tier refurbishment plan to give our business more useable space in a historic building, by making it fit for growth and service in the 21st Century. Our main roof refurbishment and insulation means we now have additional useable space at the very top of our building and at the start of 2024 we have exciting plans to revitalise our office area by blending the original pine vaulted ceilings and exposed red brick with modern glass balustrades, internal partitions and by maximising natural light.

“My father rented space within the mill from 1964 when he recognised the potential demand for manufacturing military uniform and narrow fabrics such as medal ribbon, rank braid, stripes and sashes. He went on to buy the mill in 1973. Today we continue to realise my father’s vision with long term Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces contracts and have recently secured several large scale manufacturing contracts including to manufacture the British Armed Forces’ new regimental Colours and squadron Standards following King Charles III’s Coronation.

“In six decades of operating out of Haworth, this is the first time we have undertaken such extensive improvement works and in doing so, we hope to protect and preserve the building and our industry for the next 100 years to come.”

Bradford Council’s Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Transport and Planning Alex Ross-Shaw, said the council is delighted to be able to support businesses in the area with grants which enable firms to make crucial investment for growth. He added: “It’s a huge boost for the future of the local economy as well as our heritage to support the refurbishment of such an important historical building.”

Keighley Towns Fund Chairman Ian Hayfield continued: “Wyedean Weaving is a unique business which is going from strength to strength. Its work is so specialised and so significant, and investing in this way will ensure it thrives for many more decades to come. We wish them every continued success.”

Wyedean was founded as a manufacturer of braid and military uniform accoutrement in Haworth in 1964 by David Wright who ran the business with his father Frank Wright, a former textile machine designer who was awarded an MBE in recognition of his invention of a new yarn spinning technique called centrifugal spinning.

The business remains chaired by David’s wife Norma (99), with her son and Managing Director Robin, his wife and Sales Director Debra and their daughters Business Development Director Rosie and Systems Project Manager Susannah.

1 https://www.bradford.gov.uk/media/2379/haworthrevisedcaa.pdf