Macclesfield's working Silk Mill Museum

Living History

Macclesfield's working Silk Mill Museum

Macclesfield became known as the 'silk town' by the 1850's, by which time silk-making had become the town's principal industry. Paradise Mill, an original silk mill, has since been redeveloped into a working silk museum.

Macclesfield's silk industry began with buttons in the 1600s. Later, during the industrial revolution, Macclesfield's supplies of clean water and other advantages led to a thriving silk industry. By 1826, 70 throwing mills had been built - although four years later, 30 had closed due to an economic downturn.

Paradise Mill was built in 1862. It has gone through several owners - including James Kershaw, whose firm was well-known for rich design and creative use of multiple fabrics. The decline of the cotton industry meant that, by 1891, the mills were used exclusively for manufacturing silk.

From 1912 until 1920, rooms at Paradise Mill were rented by designers Arthur Cartwright and Percy Sheldon, and in 1920 they bought the mill for £6000. Old looms were repaired, new ones were made and by the 1930's, the top floor of Paradise Mill housed 70 operating looms. However, the firm went into liquidation in 1981, and conversion into a working museum began in 1983.

When operational, Paradise Mill offers guided tours three times a day, and is home to Europe’s largest known collection of Jacquard silk handlooms in their original setting. The tours offer demonstrations on a restored loom.

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