IT ALL BEGAN WITH VELVET (1955) film no: 121
This film documents the history of weaving, specifically velvet, by Lister Co. at Manningham Mill in Bradford. It shows the industrial processes connected with design, weaving and finishing of furnishing fabrics. It includes many scenes of the workers at the mill as well as some domestic interiors and suites (which may be of social interest.)
The film opens with titles:
It All Began With Velvet
Lister and Co.'s Own employees appear throughout the sequences taken in their own mills.
Animated Diagram by the National Film Agency
Sound Recording at United Motion Picture Studios, London
Commentary by Frank Phillips
Directed by E. Milton Stoney
Produced and Photographed by C.H. Wood
It All Began With Velvet
The film opens with velvet cloths and proceeds quickly to shots of the countryside and architectural remnants of the Middle Ages such as castles, churches, and monuments. The commentary explains how these places were originally decorated with velvet weaved by local artisans. There are illustrations of looms and weavers to accompany this commentary. It then goes onto explain that the current practice of weaving was brought over by Flemish weavers, and the majority of the weaving took place in cottages like the ones shown. Specifically, velvet was used in churches to reflect the opulence and beauty of the large stained glass windows and painted ceilings.
The industry began in Bradford at a factory first fuelled by waterpower. There are examples of many different factories and mills as the commentary explains the various forms of power through the Industrial Revolution. Lister Co Bradford (1875) - here there are interior and exterior shots of the mills, specifically Manningham Mills. The workers are situated at looms making various types of velvet. Different types of velvet, such as crushed or patterned, require different weaves. There are shots of various workers at the factory including technicians, weavers, craftsmen, and designers.
The commentary also explains how the loom creates the different types of weaves required to create the different types of velvet. Additionally, the designers must be very knowledgeable taking into consideration different weaves and connecting them to current fashions and tastes in order to satisfy customers. The process from paper design to the realization of that design in velvet form is also documented and explained.
Lister and Co. also employs many technicians responsible for creating and matching colours and testing the durability and quality of the velvet produced by the factory. The different machinery and tests which they conduct are documented here. Colour tests are made in accordance with the British Colour Council (founded 1930). Additionally, Lister has created colour themes based on classic paintings by famous artists in hopes to help the housewife easily decorate her home.
The film moves on to give examples of the many uses of velvet fabric including: furniture in homes and businesses, curtains in homes as well as larger curtains in theatres and cinemas, and upholstery for seats in various modes of transportation. One of the advancements Lister's technicians have made is a "wipe-dry" (waterproof) velvet which is used as the upholstery for bus seats in the British Transport System. Examples of the waterproofing can be seen.
The film closes with a montage of various uses of velvet, an aerial shot of the mills and the following credits:
Spun, woven, and dyed by Lister & Co, Ltd. - Manningham Mills, Bradford, England