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Ways of Seeing 

16/07/2010 

The textile industry once shaped all aspects of life in East Lancashire and now groups of young people from Burnley and Oswaldtwistle are to discover how, thanks to a project given a £49,700 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). 

Focusing on the period since the Second World War the young people, aged 14 to 24, will explore how the lives, landscape and buildings in these areas have influenced the present-day environment. The project is being run by Lancashire County Museum Service.

Visits to Helmshore Mills Textile Museum and Queen Street Mill, Burnley, will provide a vivid impression of how textiles were produced and what working life in the industry was like. A group of 30 young people from Oswaldtwistle will be exploring the heritage through a photography project that will help them to acquire photographic skills while tracing the history of textile production. They will produce a fully illustrated book for publication in March next year.

Meanwhile, a group of 40 young people on a BTEC fashion course at Burnley College and a family learning course in Harle Syke will be working with a fashion designer and heritage textile expert, learning new skills in the design and making of fashion garments, understanding the history of textile printing and pattern production used in local mills, and producing a series of fashion shows to take place at the mill museums and college between April and July 2011.

For the Heritage Lottery Fund, Sara Hilton, Head of HLF North West England, said: “Through the use of fashion and photography a traditional industry is engaging the interest of today’s young people to provide them with a greater sense of identity and heritage.”

CC Mike Calvert, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for adult and community services, said: "Being an East Lancashire lad myself, I grew up in the shadows of the mills such as Helmshore Mills Textile Museum and Queen Street Mill.

"I'm particularly impressed by this project with the HLF because the grant will provide young people with a fascinating insight into the textile industry and the legacy it has left for East Lancashire.

"I would like to congratulate colleagues in Lancashire's County Museums Service on developing this excellent programme. By using modern teaching techniques, I am confident that it will inspire young people to develop their understanding  of local history."

Notes to editors

Cloth production, first wool, then cotton, became Lancashire’s main export throughout the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. Helmshore Textile Museum was re-opened in 2008 following a refurbishment project supported by Lancashire County Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the North West Development Agency, and the Friends of Helmshore Museum.

Queen Street Mill Textile Museum, Burnley, is the world’s only surviving 19th century steam powered weaving mill.