Some time ago, being interested in textiles and local history, we were intrigued as to why the little cottage on Roger’s Lane was called ‘Weavers’. Searching the worldwide web for anything to do with Shotesham Weavers, we drew a blank until one day we came across a bookseller site advertising a pamphlet titled ‘In Our Cottage at Shotesham’. There was no further information, but we just felt we had to buy it for interest. When it arrived, we were delighted to discover it was a promotional pamphlet for Shotesham Weavers, complete with the story of this little cottage industry and a sample piece of beautiful Shotesham Tweed fabric, woven in the 1920’s.
The original pamphlet is in quite a delicate condition, so we have scanned and reproduced the pages below. If you would like to view the original or have a copy, just let us know.
After talking to various people in the village, we have discovered that Audrey Pleavin, who lived in Shotesham most of her life, worked on the looms after leaving school at the age of 14 for about 3 years, until the beginning of the Second World War.
Miss Kitty Thorn, daughter of Mary and Bernard Thorn, who lived at the White House next door to Weavers, started the business in the mid 1920’s, weaving beautiful tweeds for her friends. After three years, Miss Thorn and four local girls were weaving Shotesham Tweed for people all over the country and achieved quite a reputation with London tailors. According to an article in the London Daily Chronicle on October 2nd 1929, when there was time, they also wove luxurious Silk fabrics. All sorts of lovely airy shawls and cloaks were made from what was known as the finest China Tram Silk.
We have been unable to find any definite information about when the business ceased, but this could have happened at the start of the war, when women, as in Audrey’s case, went into munitions work. Records of the family existed in the 1939 census, but by 1946, there were no records in Shotesham of the Thorn family or Mornement, the family into which Kitty married in 1934. We can only assume that the business didn’t continue in the village after the war.
If anyone has any further information or remembers anything to do with Shotesham Weavers, we would be delighted to know.
Bernie and Mike Fenn