Shuttle service! Dobcross Looms have place in the sun with weaver Paul

A RELIC from Saddleworth’s textile manufacturing past is still weaving high quality cloth more than a century after it was built in Diggle.

A 115-year-old Dobcross flying loom and another machine from 1930 are installed in a Spanish mill – Molino Tapanero – owned by Yorkshireman Paul Sutcliffe and wife Dawn.

Paul, originally from Meltham and an engineer by trade, moved to Gaucin 47 years ago after buying the then fire ravaged premises close to the river Genal.The Dobcross looms were brought in pieces from Bailey Mill in Delph during the 1980s together with all the associated gear, including warping machine, re-assembled at the mill.

No longer run by steam power, the machines are fully working museum pieces, still capable of producing the much sought after cloth.

Paul and wife Dawn’s Lanas del Rio business manufactures and sells a variety of items, including scarves, throws, shawls and blankets, from the mill plus a small studio in the Andalusian hilltop village.

At least twice a year they visit Delph to see suppliers and finishers, Mallalieus and Gledhills plus Lightowlers Yarns in Meltham.

Paul and wife Dawn

“Coming from a textile town I have always been interested in weaving,” explained Paul.

“And I seem to have always known about the looms though I´ve learned a lot more since 1993.

My former business partner, Howard Wimpenny taught me weaving before he retired.

“Most of our clients are British, Swedish, German and American but there is a lot of interest from locals of all nationalities.”

A flood in October 2018 halted production for a year while the coronavirus pandemic reduced visitor numbers.

But like the looms, which weigh around 2.5 tons and stand two metres high, Paul, 64, and 61-year-old Dawn are made of sturdy stuff.

“We were a small firm to start with, made smaller by the flood and even smaller by Covid,” explained father of four Paul.“The flood closed us down for a while but happily a lot of the stock was in the shop.

“We had nicely got going again and were welcoming a few visitors back when the virus struck.

“However, we are battling on and have never had any thoughts about giving up.

“We are proud of what we make. It’s good stuff produced at good factory prices.

“I would like to get back to at least what we were before the flood.”

The historic looms have been the least of the couple’s concerns. “They don’t break down so much,” confirmed Paul whose family also run an automatic transmission repair business.“They run largely on bits of wood, leather and wire but I can fix that. The logic that enables you to repair automatic gearboxes enables you to understand weaving. It is very similar.”

The looms are not the only Dobcross connection in Gaucin. During a visit earlier this year villagers Jill and Kevin Drake presented Paul with a ubiquitous Dobcross Band Club beer mat!
And a warm Yorkshire welcome awaits other visitors to Molino Tapanero. Check out www.lanasdelrio.com for more details of how to book tours and buy Dobcross Loom made merchandise.

• Dobcross Loom Works off Huddersfield Road was established by John Hutchinson and James Hollingworth in 1860.

It closed in 1967 when taken over by WH Shaw Pallet Works. The site is now the location for Saddleworth’s new secondary school.

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