In 1951 the Guild was invited to exhibit, demonstrate and sell cloth in Harrods, a prestigious and successful event, visited by HM Queen Mary. Whilst not a very rewarding venture for the Guild in financial terms, it was very beneficial in promoting the craft to the public and in raising the profile of the Guild.
The membership numbers and volume of correspondence from both Great Britain and abroad continued to grow. The Government of India showed particular interest in equipment and techniques that could assist millions of villagers for whom handweaving and handspinning were the two biggest cottage industries.
The Guild continued with a monthly schedule of meetings, formed a library, assisted along with other Guilds in launching the Quarterly Journal for the Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, set up a Summer School in 1952 and held Open Days as the forerunner of national biennial exhibitions held by the Association. The London Guild supported the idea of forming an Association of Guilds, which came into being in 1955, though disquiet over the basis of setting affiliation fees delayed the London Guild’s entry to the Association until 1961.
Gwen Shaw’s death was a great sadness and loss to the Guild, and a subscription list was raised which purchased a cup in her name for an annual textile Competition. The early 1960s were generally difficult times, both financially and for the survival of ‘Warp & Weft’, but the good fortune of a generous donation and a new editor for ‘Warp & Weft’ succeeding in turning the corner.
The 1960s were marked by exhibitions, for example in conjunction with the V & A Museum, the Building Centre Trust, and the Chelsea Fair. Into the 1970s, the Guild continued to sponsor exhibitions and tuition – at summer and autumn schools as well as running short one or two day courses. A major success was ‘Thread ‘77’, held at the Royal Exchange, and was licensed by the Committee of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee to use the Jubilee symbol on its publicity and catalogue. Exhibitions at the Orangery, Holland Park, were held in 1979, 81 and 83.
Publicity has always been important for the guild – in the 1980s the British Wool Marketing Board invited the London Guild to try to break the world ‘sheep to shoulder’ record (creating a knitted jersey from a fleece shorn on the spot). This we did successfully, taking 8 minutes off the record, and resulting in a follow-up request from the BBC to make a further record attempt on ‘Pebble Mill at One’. We succeeded again and took another 6 minutes off our earlier record.
Recent events have seen the continuation of regular monthly meetings (with the periodic need to move premises), competitions and participation in the Association’s national exhibitions and summer schools. Highly successful exhibitions in various venues around London have been held bi-annually culminating in a wonderful celebratory exhibition for our diamond anniversary in October 2010. We look forward to our next exhibition in 2013.
With the aid of this website, we look forward to the new century with optimism that we shall continue to ignite new interest in these inspiring crafts and to assure our future.