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Historic Horsefair

Prior to the carpet industry becoming established in Kidderminster the town was famous for bombazine. The expensive fabric was woven on small looms in people’s homes and work is underway to restore one former weaver’s cottage in the Horsefair.

Weavers’ Cottages in Kidderminster’s Horsefair, is a row of three historically important cottages, the earliest of which dates back almost 300 years.

These small houses have been empty and unused for a generation but are being restored courtesy of funding secured by The Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust. Prior to this a campaign by Kidderminster Civic Society resulted in the cottages being given listed building protection.

As far back as the 17th Century Kidderminster had a thriving spinning and cloth weaving industry and was famous for the production of bombazine.  Bombazine was an expensive material woven from silk and worsted yarns.  It was generally black and used for mourning dress. Around 1700, before the building of the canal, there were around 400 handlooms in homes around the town. As the looms were small they could be easily built in people’s homes.

Research has shown that the oldest cottage being restored in the Horsefair, number 22, was built before 1753 had a workshop on the top floor for the weaving of bombazine and living accommodation on the ground and middle floors.

Numbers 20 and 21 were built slightly later, neither had high loft workshops, but were almost certainly homes for artisans with trades ranging from confectionery to shoemaking. The restoration project uncovered a painted sign on the front of number 21 revealing it had been a confectioners.
Work on the properties, which have been unused for a generation, has been undertaken by a team of experts in building conservation using traditional techniques, like lime plastering, and re-using as much of the original materials as possible. The front of the buildings were coming away from the walls and number 22 had to be carefully taken down before it could start to be rebuilt.

Later this year the cottages will be offered for sale on the open market.

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