Gary, Edinburgh: My Playground

As a child growing up in Northern Ireland we were surrounded by the remnants of the linen industry, which had sadly declined. Many of my family had worked in the linen mills and there were reminders everywhere in the names of the streets and places, where we played. One of my favourite places to play as a child was amongst the ruins of the old Moylena Beetling Mill in Antrim. The rusting water wheel which powered the machinery and now sat frozen in time seemed massive to me as a young boy, but was a great place to play hide and seek. It was only on my first visit to the Ulster Museum in Belfast later that I realised how important the linen industry had been to Northern Ireland and how much of an influence it had had on my family’s history.

THANKS GARY: cracking memories and great pic. I’m in touch with Ulsters Old Mills Society and will follow this story up when we tour to Lisburn in early October. Not as much industrial archaeology available in Scotland but we’re on the hunt!

Lesley, Dunfermline: Linen Ghosts

Dunfermline was a town well known for its linen industry. Now all the visible remains of this once thriving industry are a few of the factory buildings converted into smart flats and this ghost ad which inspired me. The local library holds a fascinating collection of pattern books which I look at for design inspiration. The museum displays a huge working loom as well as linen artefacts and recorded stories.

THANKS LESLEY – what a great pic! There’s something of a ghostly feel to Silverburn in Fife where we’ll tour during our stop in Kirkcaldy in September… Very much admire your own work drawing on local stories. I hope our paths cross in Fife. Very best, John

John, Leith: Linen links from Rockcorry, County Monaghan

I was born and brought up in Muirhouse of an Irish family. I was taken by my dad to watch Hibs from the age of five and I still go to Easter Road. My dad was born in Balinalee in County Longford but brought up in a small town called Rockcorry outside of Monaghan.
My dad worked in the local Flax factory in Rockcorry from the age of 14 and the flax was then turned into Linen Shirts in Monaghan. I believe that the Monaghan factory still makes Linen shirts for M&S. but the Rockcorry Flax Factory is closed and in ruins.

THANKS JOHN – Look forward to following this up when we head to N.Ireland in October. Sorry to hear you were dragged to Hibs matches as a child – poor man – I hope you break that habit soon ;). If you’d like to sign up for our our newsletters, please do fill our ‘keep in touch’ screen on the website – very best, John.

Fiona, London: Any clues to which factory this label might belong?

I am an avid collector of linen damask and recently acquired some sample books and charts from a long closed weaving mill, which I believe to have been in Scotland. Some of the damask samples had labels attached and I was curious to know if anyone out there might know which mill had the initials S&C.

THANKS FIONA: We’re on the case! We’ll be visiting Kirkcaldy and exploring the flax fields of Fife in September. Admire your own initiative with giving new life to old linen – showing what a sustainable textile this really is…


Jane, Leith: Itching for Summer

I love linen especially in sludgy colours. Have been somewhat stoically wearing it since March but hoping for a decent summer and soon 😉

THANKS JANE: we have our summer at last! Lets hope your wonderful linens can see the daylight for months to come 😉 John. We are hoping to work with Fife College on an educational module – perhaps we can meet up again, expert steers always welcome.

Oscar, Barcelona: My Spanish Linen over-shirts

I met your John when he visits my tailors shop in Barcelona
I import all materials like cotton and moleskin but for linen I can use Spanish linen
We grow flax and make linen in north Spain

THANK YOU OSCAR: It was a pleasure to meet you and visit I wear my linen over-shirt regularly. I followed up your note about Spanish linen and found that 3 companies in Spain have Masters of Linen accreditation with CELC: one is no longer trading, one specialises in bonding textiles and so I suspect the third supplies your linen, called Teixidors, also based in Barcelona. It appears they do the spinning using a yarn from northern France!/materials/lino-en  I had an email from a textile professor in Israel keen to make contact with you and I have passed on your shop email.