The textile industry has been one of the most prolonged and widespread influences on the development of historic buildings in the South West. The regional industry pre-dated the classic period of the Industrial Revolution by several centuries, resulting in distinctive types of vernacular buildings, industrial buildings, townscapes and landscapes, all contrasting with those in other areas.
This book provides a wide-reaching analysis of historical context, an account of the origins and development of each of the industries, an interpretation of the distinctive features of the buildings, a clarification of the historical importance of South West textile mills and clear statements on the benefits of their conservation.
A range of topics is introduced to enable the reader to appreciate the national significance of the region’s textile industries, including a general introduction to textile processes and the historical importance of the factory system, together with an initial overview of the main industries. The core of the book deals with the industries in detail, each chapter providing historical context followed by an account of the distinctive features of the buildings based on descriptions of representative examples. The final chapter emphasises the tradition of re-use and conversion in the South West textile industries, encourages the continued adaptation and conservation of both mills and related townscapes, and concludes with new statements on national significance and comparisons with other regions.
Mike Williams' book is able to bring that heritage vividly to life through a rich array of high quality photographs, both modern and archival, reproductions of contemporary prints, superb maps and technical drawings whic are liberally scattered throughout. This beautifully-produced and highly informative volume marks a most welcome contribution to the study of the textile industries of the south west of England.
University of Birmingham
Journal of Rural History, Volume 25, Issue 2
... one of a growing number of substantial, analytical studies by English Heritage which are characterised by rigorous field investigations and copious illustrations ... It is hard to find fault with such a thoughtful, thoroughly researched, well-written and beautifully presented volume. . ... It is less than sixty years since the term 'Industrial Archaeology' was first coined in print and this high-quality, detailed, yet accessible interdisciplinary study shows how the subject has already matured. The volume provides a rewarding read for all with an interest in industrial history or the landscape of the south west.
Victoria County History
Landscape History, Volume 35, Issue 2
... this book is a long-awaited and very welcome study on a fully regional basis. ... it has an open and readable style with a good balance of technical terminology and historical narrative, making it accessible to both specialist and generalist reader alike. ... this work is a masterful achievement, both learned and practical; a must-have for anyone with an interest in this fascinating topic.
Context 137, November 2014