The plain Hattersley Domestic Loom was specially developed for cottage or home use and designed to replace the wooden handloom; the Domestic is similar in construction to a power loom. It was introduced ca.1900 and the makers claimed that a speed of 160 picks per minute could be easily attained with from 2 to 8 shafts weaving a variety of fabrics. Because foot pedals, or treadles, operate the loom it is still classed as a handloom, but it is much easier and faster to weave as all the motions of the loom are connected via crankshaft and gear wheels.
The Hattersley Domestic Loom was manufactured by George Hattersley & Sons Ltd of Keighley - established in 1789 - the firm made every type of loom and a vast range of associated textile equipment until 1981.
Not much is known about the history of the Domestic Loom. Initially it has been said that they were developed markets overseas in the British Empire. But it was the Harris Tweed Industry which adopted the Hattersley Domestic Loom in the greatest numbers.
Basically, the loom combines all the know-how of 19th century loom engineering into a small, compact format which is simply poetry in motion.
The first thirty Hattersley's were sent to the Outer Hebrides in 1919. These were 36 inches in the reed space and single shuttle. In 1924 the first six shuttle, 40 inch reed space looms arrived in Stornoway and this type of loom was the most commonly used loom in the islands and is still in use today.
People talk about the Hattersley Loom, but to be correct the loom was just one part of the Hattersley Domestic Weaving System - consisting of a loom, pirn winder and warping mill. Indeed over the years there were a number of developments, although the basic underlying concept stayed the same.
Each loom was assembled at the Hattersley works in Keighley before being packed in order to ensure that all the parts worked properly. Then before dismantling, various parts of the loom were numbered and marked with paint in order to make it easier to assemble later. The loom was then placed in a crate - which on arrival at its destination was then unpacked and assembled with only reference to a simple guide.
The basic Mark I loom is treadle operated and the amount of effort to start the machine from rest and to keep it in motion varies from loom to loom, dependent on how well it has been erected and tuned. Basically, no two looms feel the same to weave on - they all have distinct personalities - and this is where their charm comes from.
Generally the looms have tappets to control up to 8 shafts, healds or boards. Most looms simply have 4 shafts and a set of four 2/2 Twill tappets and four plain weave tappets.
My loom arrived in pieces and after much tinkering and tuning I now produces some lovely Harris tweed fabric.