Sunny Bank Mills Archive

Last week I visited the Archive at Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley, housed in the historic mill building the archive offers a unique perspective of 180 years of cloth production at the mill. The archive is extensive and includes:

  • Guard books containing thousands of textile cuttings
  • Over 60,000 lengths of fabric
  • Over 8,000 fabric designs
  • Wool dyeing recipe cards
  • Leather bound ledgers and cash books
  • Weaving Looms
  • Photographs and memorabilia

Their aims and objectives at the archive are…

To preserve and make accessible the historic textile mill collection for the community and future generations

This was my second visit and I wanted to get a few photographs for some research I am doing into the mill and the finishing rooms as part of a potential exhibition in 2017. It’s such a welcoming space and the staff and volunteers are really knowledgeable about the archive and its rich history.

The shelves are packed with cloth samples, leather bound books and boxes of dyed wool samples.

Cloth Samples
Cloth Samples
Detail of Ledger
Detail of Ledger

When the volunteers are working in the archive you can get a fascinating glimpse into the boxes from the shelves. I chatted to one of the volunteers about the collection of dyed wool samples they are currently working to preserve. The collection comprises of hundreds of envelopes each containing samples of wool which have been dyed and sent for colour matching. I was attracted to the information labels attached to the samples.

Wool Dyeing Samples
Wool Dyeing Samples

The Archive is such a great place for textile and history lovers. If you would like to visit they are open on the first Wednesday of the month from 10am to 12pm. You can also contact Archive Curator Rachel to book an appointment, arrange a tour or become part of the volunteer team, her email address is