Monday, June 9, 2008

South Woodchester, Gloucestershire

A few months ago on this blog a post about the roundhouse in Melksham, Wiltshire, provoked some interesting comparisons both on and offline. Here’s another round building, one that used to be known as the teasel tower, because it was once used for drying teasel seed heads for use in the cloth industry.

The clothier’s teasel, Dipsacus sativus, is slightly different from the native teasel, Dipsacus sylvestris, in that its prickles have recurved hooks. It is these that are useful to the cloth-worker, because when drawn across the cloth they pull out loose fibres and raise a nap on the surface. To begin with the heads were arranged in a wooden frame which was drawn across the fabric by hand like a large brush. Later they were fixed to turning cylinders in a mechanical device called a gig, which from the time of the industrial revolution onwards could be driven by steam. This kind of gig mill could process the cloth more quickly than a hand worker and, it was alleged, produced a more uniform surface.

The cloth industry of the Stroudwater area used teasel heads by the thousand, and they were still being grown near Cheltenham just before World War II. This building just off the Stroud to Nailsworth road was apparently one of the places where they were made ready for use. It is part of a house now, but is in its way as interesting a reminder of the old industry of the Stroud valleys as the many mills in the area.


Thud said...

"you learn somrthing new every day"...well thats my quota sorted for today.

Peter Ashley said...

Gloucestershire must like its round buildings. You may have already mentioned it, but this one reminds me of the Chalford Round House on the Thames & Severn canal, which must have taken its cue from this.