In February 2011, thanks to Janet Phillips I was offered a pile of firewood which could possible be a loom with no guarantees that it would work. After borrowing a big truck and strong arms the pile of pieces arrived and I painstakingly tried to work out which end was which. Worse for me as there was no plan and I had no idea what type of loom it was. It now stands some 6 feet by 6 feet and can weave cloth up to 130cm width and endless length. With Janet's help, the loom has now been restored and is in working order.
The reason why this loom is so significant to the area is because it was especially made for Miss Norah Biddulph by Gunnar Anderson in about 1933, in Sweden and imported to England by her. She and Miss Emily Dickenson formed the Quantock Weavers and lived in Over Stowey. The Quantock Weavers were at the forefront of the resurrection of handweaving in Britain in the 1950’s, as I understand it, and instrumental in the establishment of the National Association of Guilds for Weavers,Dyers and Spinners in the UK. Some of Miss Biddulph’s weaving can be seen in the shape of an altar frontal at Wells Cathedral.
After some research I found out that the loom was created to Mr Anderson’s design and as little has changed I was able to order some specific spare parts from the Glimakra Vavstolfabric in the small town of Glimakra in the south of Sweden.
The loom has its provenance stenciled indelibly upon it as it was labeled with the address when it was transported on the Great Western Railway. So you can see that this loom is a piece, albeit a very small piece and a specialized one of local history and it is nice to be able to give it a home in Stogumber.
Loom number 8 has been lovingly called ‘ Norah’ in Miss Biddulph’s memory and was probably one of a series of looms in her workshop. This loom seems to have been destined to weave all types of twill fabric in all its variations. It may take me a long time to follow in Miss Biddulphs footsteps while loom number 8 teaches me but it is a loom to be respected and I am glad I am its custodian.