Spotlight on: Bobbin Making in the Lake District

Vista of the Lake District National Park featuring a rather fashionable color-tagged sheep!

Last weekend I ventured out of the city for a rare trip that was destined to be entirely devoid of museum visits or anything relating to dress history. It was my first foray up into the UK’s divine Lake District National Park, and uncharacteristically, I was prepared for a wholly outdoors experience of walking, and communing with nature. On such occasions I begrudgingly wear trousers and hiking shoes, but take great pleasure in my lavender pinstriped North Face ski jacket – my most luxurious utilitarian garment!

The North Face Baker Delux ski jacket which I never leave the city without.

Despite the intent to keep my sights firmly set on the landscape, I had an unexpected encounter with social history relating to the native industry of bobbin making in the area during the Industrial Revolution. A series of information panels deep in the park, near the village of Keswick (which is home to the Pencil Museum – unfortunately closed on the day of my visit!) provided a look into the history of this once thriving industry.

So among my photographs of waterfalls and verdant vistas, I snapped a few shots of the panels.  I was entirely unaware of the former prevalence and importance of bobbin making to the region and to the UK’s textile manufacturing in the 19th century.

Not only a lesson in regional history – but a pleasant reminder that even when ankle deep in mud, and dressed for invigorating physical activity, the history of dress and textiles are never far from reach!

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