Braiding Machine - Object of the month

Bradford Industrial Museum

April 2016

My name is Edna Barker. As a member of Bradford Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers which meets in Bradford Industrial Museum, I have a long association with the museum and I am now a regular volunteer. Whilst involved in the West Yorkshire Textile Heritage project I frequented the stores and stopped to admire the braiding machine every time I walked past it. The wooden framework of the machine is clearly very old and the tops of the wooden corner posts are wonderfully polished by many hands. Who were they? Where did they work? How long ago?

A complete set of threaded bobbins with a short piece of circular woven braid is still in situ which makes the function of the machine clear, although not the purpose of the final product. It has been unused for so long that it is probably not possible to restore to full function but I can dream……

Information from the record

Square wooden frame with cross beams. The wooden top has been scribed to fit the braiding machine which is held in the top of the frame. The original machine was probably hand powered, however it has been altered to be powered by steam.

Frame dated 1840 - 1850, mechanism is later addition.

It is believed that braiding is one of the earliest forms of textile process in the world. Braiding has numerous applications and the simple process is similar to that of wrapping ribbons around a maypole during a dance. As technology has advanced the machines to make braids have become more advanced, but the principle is still the same. This braiding machine probably pre-dates the industrial revolution, but may have been adapted to be powered by steam.

Information taken from New Directions in Braiding, by David Branscomb, PhD., David Beale, PhD, Royall Broughton, PhD.

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