LANGHOLM’S last working textile mill has been saved from permanent closure.
Drove Weaving was closed in the spring by parent company Lochcarron of Scotland which is based in Selkirk.
Now, after weeks of negotiations, the well-respected commission weaver is to start up its looms once again.
Ian Maxwell, who lives in Langholm and is known for designing the lunar tartan, made for Neil Armstrong’s visit in 1972, has bought the business.
Ian, who has clocked up many decades in the industry, praised Lochcarron for the smooth way the sale was conducted.
Dawn Robson-Bell, managing director of Lochcarron, said: “We’re pleased to announce the plant and equipment has been bought by Ian Maxwell.
“This allows Drove Weaving to continue the tradition of weaving manufacturing in the town.
“Drove Weaving had been part of the Lochcarron business for more than 20 years and was privately owned for some 20 years before this.
“We’re very happy to have reached an agreement with Mr Maxwell who will take over on September 1.
“We will continue to support him and the team at Drove as much as possible with their new venture.
“Mr Maxwell is well known in and around Langholm and has great interest in the continuation of the weaving tradition, for which the town has been known over many decades.
“He hopes to develop the business beyond its current commission customer base.
“We wish them every success in this and hope Drove Weaving continues for many more years to come.”
Ian said his thought was that this was the last mill in Langholm and once it was lost, it would never come back.
Robbie Trussler, who founded the company more than four decades ago and ran it for more than 20 for Lochcarron, will return and Steven Tweddle will stay on, too.
Ian plans to employ eight to 10 full-time workers and recruit five apprentices.
He said: “There are good skills there and I want to save them and take on apprentices.
“We want young blood to train for the future because I believe it has a future. I will make it have a future.”
The business already has customers waiting to have orders filled.
Ian added: “We have a lovely relationship with Linton Tweeds in Carlisle and they’re desperate for us to get going again, along with other customers.”
In the long term, Ian has plans to develop a Drove Weaving brand with a number of new designs for top-end products.
He is also talking to South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) and he looks forward to receiving its help.
Oliver Mundell, Dumfriesshire MSP, added: “These are early days but I’m delighted Ian and his team have been able to rescue Drove Weaving.
“I know they have an ambitious plan to inject new life into the business.
“This was a make-or-break moment for Langholm and, like everyone living there, I didn’t want to see the town’s proud links to the textiles industry consigned to history.
“I stand ready to do everything I can to support the business and I hope South of Scotland Enterprise will get behind the plans and secure the long-term opportunities Ian has in mind.”