Reviving the William Liddell Collection: Shuttles and Shafts

Patricia Belford, Barbara Dass

Research output: Book/ReportBook

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This research revealed previously unknown artefacts and knowledge relating to the Northern Ireland Linen industry. A co-authored book is the main output in this multi-component research, publishing the only surviving collection of photographic glass plates, from the William Liddell company in Donachloney. This small town in Northern Ireland, was once the world leader in damask linen weaving. Belford and Dass investigated 1600 photographic glass plates donated to the Belfast School of Art in 2005. These fragile plates which recorded the many working patterns associated with the company were cleaned, digitised, and archived. This commissioned work was carried out by Centre for Data Digitisation and Analysis (CDDA, QUB), under the direction of Belford. This research captures the Northern Irish industrial heritage sharing with historians, educators and the public community. The restored collection of plates were donated to The Irish Linen Centre and Museum, forming a permanent collection to enable wider public access, enhanced by a bespoke website and research database of the collection, led by Belford.

Following deeper interrogation of the archive, Belford designed a contemporary textile artefact using a pattern focused approach, which was also acquired for the Museum permanent collection. From this artefact a new textiles range ‘The Donachloney furnishing collection’ was developed in collaboration with William Clark and Sons, Irelands oldest Linen fabric mill. This contemporary response to the research further preserves the heritage bringing the past into the future through this digitally printed collection as a commercial product. NILE HQ identified the research as important design inspiration for the forthcoming fifty pound Ulster bank note, responding to the category ‘Industry and Economy’. The Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum acknowledge the project contribution to their community outreach and education programme, collaborating with the Resurgem Mens group, developing their confidence to secure further funding.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBlackburn
PublisherVision Support Services
Number of pages159
ISBN (Print)9781527230330
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 23 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

An output from a Heritage Lottery funded project where P Belford was the PI.


  • Archives
  • Textiles
  • Damask Weaving
  • Glass Plates
  • Photographic plates
  • Donachloney
  • Heritage Lottery
  • Textile Design
  • Irish LInen
  • Linen Industry


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