Bolton's rich industrial heritage to flourish again with help of historic business
The legacy of Bolton's rich industrial heritage continues to live on and flourish thanks to the efforts of a local business, which is drawing on the borough's past to solve a modern day shortage of textile skills.
Textile manufacturer Richard Haworth, based at Kearsley Mill, counts Wimbledon, Gleneagles and even Royal Palaces among its clients.
Based at Kearsley Mill in Stoneclough, the company, established in 1876, has been holding sewing masterclasses to encourage more poeple to enter the textile industry and to ensure the continuation of its British manufacturing operations.
Their first workshop, which took place on January 23, taught participants how to use a sewing machine and overlocker.
They were also taught how to hem a tablecloth and create a pillowcase.
One person was hired as a result.
Raj Ruia, managing director, said: “It is a sad reality that we no longer have individuals entering the workplace with the practical skills we require, such as cutting, sewing and embroidery - all of which are fundamental to our production process.
“In a world where so many manufacturing lines are turning to AI and robots, and the education system is less focused on equipping students with hands-on skills, we still very much need and want to employ people.
“It is due to our skilled seamstresses that our products are of the highest quality and our talented team ensures that we continue to surpass the industry standard.”
Raj continued: “Historically, Kearsley has been a mill town and attracted very local workers, but since so many more people now commute, we hope to attract talent from across the Greater Manchester area.
“Not only can we offer secure and stable employment, but practical training that will teach employees the skills to plug this very real shortfall.”
Yasmin Qureshi, MP for Bolton South East, said: “Local manufacturing businesses like Richard Howarth Ltd in Bolton are crucial to supporting good jobs and ensuring that our local and regional economies grow at a sustainable rate.
“Our local Council and national Government must create an environment which allows business to flourish and grow, whilst supporting the wider workforce.”
Cllr Tracey Wilkinson attended the event and gave sewing a go herself.
She said: “Encouraging British manufacturing is so important for creating job opportunities in the local area and providing tangible skills to future generations.
“I personally am unable to machine sew but often wish I could, because it would open my skill set for repairing and making my own products, such handmade clothes, which I am a big advocate for.
“I cannot encourage people enough to upskill themselves and potentially find new employment too.”
More classes are likely to take place in the near future.
No prior knowledge or experience of sewing is required, with people of all ages welome.
To register for future events, visit www.richardhaworth.co.uk/events.