Worstead weaving heritage centre dream helped by �44,000 Lottery grant

A Lottery grant is set to be a 'stepping stone' towards a village's dream of permanently celebrating its central role in the weaving trade that brought wealth to Norfolk in the Middle Ages.

Worstead Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers has received �44,100 from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to promote its activities and improve its skills over the coming year.

And the organisation hopes it will be the precursor to a bigger windfall in the future, to fund the development of a wool industry heritage centre in the village.

The Spinning a Yarn in Worstead project will see the guild organising workshops and masterclasses and developing ventures with schools.

It will also research and publish a history of the craft and its association with the village.


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Worstead gave its name to the famous Worsted wool, which was produced in the village after experts from Flanders settled in the area and shared their skills.

The wool trade, immortalised in the Weavers' Way long-distance footpath that crosses the county, brought in the wealth that made the county one of Britain's most prosperous areas in the Middles Ages.

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But there is no permanent facility to teach people about the key bit of history - something that people in the village are determined to put right.

Stefan Ganther, project manager of Spinning a Yarn in Worstead, said: 'It's fantastic news. But we have been working on a much bigger picture.

'Together with the Worstead community we are keen to celebrate links with the woollen industry, which created Norfolk's wealth in the Middle Ages.

'We were looking to build a permanent home for them in the village and a visitor centre.'

He added: 'We have been liaising with the Heritage Lottery Fund. They advised that the weavers needed to get together as an organisation. For them to support such a big venture, they need to be on a more businesslike footing.

'This is an opportunity to fulfil that ambition. It's a year-long programme of events. We got every penny we asked for.

'We are confident that there's a willingness and a keenness on all sides take this forward. It's a stepping stone to bigger things. We have a bigger vision for the village.'

Mr Ganther said: 'Worsted is an internationally-known brand of a type of wool whose manufacture was linked closely to the village.

'Part of the project will be to research those origins and find out how it happened. It's a disgrace that Norfolk hasn't celebrated that significance.'

Robin Llewellyn, head of HLF, East of England, said: 'This project shows the importance of keeping traditional skills alive.

'People from across Norfolk will have the chance to learn about and explore the stories of the wool trade and enjoy a chance to get directly involved.'

The project will be officially launched at the Worstead festival on Saturday, July 30 at 2.30pm.

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