Leeds nostalgia: Wool spinning mule from 1904 still working

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Dominating a huge room at Leeds Industrial Museum, these enormous woollen spinning mules are an impressive throwback to Leeds’s industrial past.

Dominating a huge room at Leeds Industrial Museum, these enormous woollen spinning mules are an impressive throwback to Leeds’s industrial past.

The pair of spectacular machines were both manufactured by Platt Brothers and Co in Oldham and date from 1871 and 1904, when they were used to spin textile fibres into yarn.

The older of the two is thought to be the oldest of its kind anywhere in the world while the 1904 model is still fully operational and is regularly maintained by staff at the museum alongside specialists from A W Hainsworth and Sons in Stanningley.

Twice a day the 1904 mule produces high quality woollen yarn that is used in commercial blanket production, filling the room with the sights and sounds of a traditional, working textile mill. Mules were originally invented by Samuel Crompton in 1779, and are so called because they are a hybrid between Arkwright’s water frame and James Hargreaves’ spinning jenny in the same way that mule is a mixture of a female horse with a male donkey.

Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said: “These incredible machines really to have to be seen to be believed and help to paint an amazing picture of what life in such a huge working mill must have been like. Today they also stand as a lasting tribute to the hugely important role that the textile industry has played in our city’s heritage.”

For more information visit: www.leeds.gov.uk/armleymills

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