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Warner Textile Archive, Braintree District Museum

Contact: 01376 557 741/ 803


The Warner Textile Archive constitutes a unique record of the design and manufacture of textiles over the past 200 years, housed in Warner’s Mill, the original 19th century factory where most of the textiles were created. It is part of the Braintree District Museum in Essex, a local history museum which reflects the area’s important traditions of textile manufacture.

Since opening in 1993, the Museum maintains a commitment to involving the community at every level and

keeping alive the traditions of creativity that characterise the district. The acquisition of the Warner Textile Archive enhances and builds upon this tradition.

The Archive presents an unparalleled collection of cloth, designs and point papers, primarily focused on furnishing textiles produced by Warner & Sons. It is the largest textile collection in public ownership in the UK, second only to the V&A’s holdings of flat textiles, and includes work by names such as Owen Jones, Howard Hodgkin and Lynton Lamb. It also incorporates the only comprehensive record of British high-quality hand-woven Jacquard cloth c1821 to 1971.

The Warner Textile Archive Gallery is a celebration of the fabrics and design within the Archive, exhibiting key pieces from the Archive collection; some samples can be handled for research purposes. As well as being an innovative centre of excellence in the study of 19th and 20th century textiles, the Archive has been established to provide a resource and inspiration for the public, teachers, students and for the textile industry at large. The Archive provides outreach and access to all members of the community.

In 2003, the Archive came under threat but was saved with the help of £2.7million of local and national funding. Funding for the Warner Textile Archive came from The Heritage Lottery Fund, The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, The Clothworkers Foundation, The Art Fund, The East of England Development Agency with support from the North West Development Agency.

Some of your comments:

Great use of a small space! Light and imaginative, a credit to Braintree. Such an extensive collection, spent much longer there than I thought I would.
Mark Dwyer, Leicester – 2 March

The Warner  Textile collection in Braintree,(its rightful home), is a world class collection and justly merits full support .  This superb facility is already attracting schools, teachers, colleges and many textile groups and designers throughout this region and further afield. The world of education and the arts would benefit enormously if this museum had a more widespread international profile.  My wife and I wholeheartedly recommend the Warner Textile Archive for the Gulbenkian Prize, both for its setting and its contents.
Iorwerth Williams, Braintree – 3 March

Saving this important textile archive for the nation was a hugely brave step for a local museum to take and it is testament to the skills and acumen of the Trustees and the senior staff that it succeeded. So many families in the Braintree area have affectionate memories of having been associated with the creative Warner Company and their pleasure at seeing the fabrics they or their relatives worked on is a joy to see.  It was a family firm and the workers felt part of that family.  The Archive (and the Museum of which it is part) is so much part of the community that created it.  The town and the Archive (and Museum) co-operate on events in the area and the result is a flourishing, lively enterprise for locals, who feel ownership of the place, and visitors alike of whatever age.  Above all it's fun!
Ann Share, Long Melford, Suffolk – 9 March

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