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date: 20 August 2019

Halifax(i)locked

  • Jennifer Wearden

Extract

English town in West Yorkshire. The cloth trade thrived in Halifax from the 13th century. The fine Piece Hall, built as a cloth market in 1775 by Thomas Bradley, housed over 315 merchants’ rooms; the central open rectangular space is surrounded by two- and three-storey colonnades. The town is now chiefly important as a centre of carpet manufacture.

The firm of J. Crossley & Sons is synonymous with the production of carpets in Halifax and has been responsible for introducing some of the most far-reaching innovations in machine-produced floor coverings. The firm was founded by John Crossley (d 1837), a hand-loom weaver who set up his own weaving shed at nearby Dean Clough in 1803. By 1833 the venture was profitable enough to enable the company to purchase from Richard Whytock of Edinburgh, for £10,000, the patents for weaving warp-printed carpets (see Carpet §II 2., (iv)), a technique that became especially associated with Crossley’s and which made Halifax the centre for such production in England. The task of printing the design on to the warp threads before weaving was laborious and dirty but made it possible for designers to incorporate up to 150 colours, although in practice a total of 30 to 40 colours was more common. As the entire pile warp was raised to form each row of loops, carpets could be woven at considerable speed. Two qualities of carpet were produced: ‘Tapestry Brussels’, with uncut loops, and ‘Tapestry Velvets’, with cut pile . Some of the first power looms to be used in the carpet industry were installed at Dean Clough in ...

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