THE arrival of two more looms at Drove Weavers marks the beginning of the company’s transformation.
The looms were bought from a commission weaver in Yorkshire and transported by road to the mill in Glenesk Road, Langholm last Friday.
The mill, formerly known as Drove Weaving, was bought earlier this year after Lochcarron of Scotland, based in Selkirk, decided to close it with the loss of up to 16 jobs.
Ian Maxwell, the man who designed the lunar tartan for Neil Armstrong’s visit to the town, stepped in to buy the business and renamed it Drove Weavers.
Ian explained that he bought the looms to enable the mill to meet demand from customers who wanted to make particular types of fabric.
He said: “We were getting asked quite a lot whether we could weave fabric with Made in Scotland down the edge but we didn’t have that capability.
“Once we get the news out there, we’ll get more enquiries.
“The looms, which weigh three tonnes, will probably not be up and running until January because they take quite a bit of setting up.”
Ian plans to develop the mill into a smaller, bespoke business and Lynn Elliott of Elliott’s Shed is working on some ideas.
Robbie Trussler, who founded Drove Weaving, still manages the mill and Ian is mentoring Stephen Tweddle to become production manager.
Ian said: “Robbie is worth his weight in gold with his enthusiasm and our relationship goes back 50 years.
“Robbie went down to Yorkshire with George Cubby to see the looms. It’s big investment; you have to get electricians in to wire it.”
He added: “It’s the beginning of the transformation of Drove Weavers.
“It’s doing rather well. I’ve been looking at the three-month figures and in the third month we’ve made a wee profit.
“It’s building up now and it’s quite good. Everything is going to plan.”
The mill is capable of weaving hundreds of metres of cloth a day. The minimum it can do is eight metres but that’s very rare.
Ian said: “It all depends on how many threads per inch you are weaving. The more threads and the finer the cloth the slower it is.
“That depends on what you’re making, whether a women’s jacket or a man’s fine suit.
“The looms are opening doors which are definitely closed at the moment.
“Our work will be more bespoke. If a customer wants 50 yards, we will make it.”
The mill also does samples and ranges for Linton Tweeds in Carlisle.
While he employs six master tradesmen, Ian wants to employ some apprentices, aged 16 to 18, but there has been no interest so far.
He said: “It’s not a dead-end mill job. It’s a good career.”