Kirklees’ textile heritage is being put in the spotlight with the launch of WOVEN, a celebration of the West Yorkshire district’s globally recognised industry from the past, present and future this summer.

WOVEN, supported by the Creative Economy Team at Kirklees Council with festival curators HATCH, will bring together the local community for one week, from Saturday 8 – Sunday 16 June, in collaboration with creative organisations, artists, education settings, businesses, industry and heritage sites across the district.

A series of events will take place throughout the week from Batley to Slaithwaite to celebrate the industry’s heritage, innovations, as well as future opportunities for careers and creativity.

Events during the week will include, ‘The Big Knit’ on 8 June, where the community will be encouraged to ‘yarn bomb’ local landmarks across Kirklees; mill walks, tours and open days; pop up exhibitions; events across theatres, galleries and museums with local artists, music and film; Makers Markets and Craft Makers Markets, as well as events for businesses, families and local schools to get involved.

Steeped in history, the textile industry in Kirklees dates back to the 1400s and since then generations of innovators have helped carve out a global reputation for Kirklees textiles. The Industrial Revolution in the late 18th Century and early 19th transformed the industry with the introduction of modern technologies, and catapulted textiles manufacturing in the region.

Many of these textile businesses still exist today and have played an instrumental part in ‘Made in Huddersfield’, a highly revered global brand on Saville Row, often referred to as ‘the finest cloth in the world’, which was once the choice of Kings and Princes alike.

Today, these businesses continue to innovate with the emergence of the digital revolution and more advanced technologies. WOVEN aims to tackle the perception that the textiles industry is one of the past, but it is one of innovation, digital entrepreneurialism and creativity, as well as offering careers opportunities for future generations. WOVEN will be a central point for career advice, showcasing opportunities to secondary, FE, HE and connecting the future workforce to Industry 4.0.

But it’s not just about manufacturing textiles. WOVEN will help connect Kirklees’ strong heritage with today’s innovative developments in university research, with a big focus on the shift from STEM TO STEAM, incorporating the district’s arts and crafts scene and creative talent.

Cllr Graham Turner, Kirklees Council’s Portfolio Holder for Corporate Strategy and Culture said: “Many people within the local community are unaware of the magnitude of the textile industry in Kirklees. The district has a long-standing heritage that spans hundreds of years, with many companies still around today that are innovating and creating high quality products sold across the globe.

“Bringing together local partners, we want tell the stories of those involved in the textile industry, past and present, from those that manufacture textiles to those that use them creatively, and how they have helped shape the world around us. We want to set the stage for our young people to forge careers in the textiles industry and help drive it forward for future generations to come.”

Bill Macbeth, managing director of the Textile Centre of Excellence, said: “The Council should be applauded for showcasing our fabulous local textile industry from its industrial revolution origins to the amazing companies we see today who are producing world-class products for many top brands.

“These companies use the latest technologies to remain at the forefront of global markets and this series of events will provide real opportunities for people of all ages to learn about the exciting careers we offer from product design, through technical textile operations to digital marketing and many more.”

The aim is for WOVEN to become a biennial event in Kirklees’ events calendar, as well as embedding activity through long term projects across the local cultural, education and industry sectors.