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Hebrides News



The Princess Royal highly praised the Harris Tweed industry as she officially opened a £2.4 million extension to the Shawbost mill.


Princess Anne who is the patron of the UK Fashion and Textiles Association told guests at the opening ceremony that the Hebridean textile is an “unique brand.”


On a tour in the mill she stamped a length of Harris Tweed with the official Orb mark to verify it was the real article.


The princess wore an autumn brown ombre coloured Harris Tweed jacket with a distinctive check pattern gifted to her by volunteers at the Lewis branch of Save the Children in 2001.


She highlighted: “I hope the next generations will recognise the value of that unique quality and the skill required to produce it.”


“That is recognised by a lot of people who actually wear it. When I have the opportunity I do keep up with the things that you make.


“To me it is an enormously invaluable line and I hope it continues.”


Princess Anne was presented with a roll of tweed by James and Andrew Bain as well as a bouquet of tweed flowers by Christina Stewart, grandchildren of the mill’s chief executive, Ian Angus Mackenzie.


Photos: Princess Anne opens Harris Tweed mill extension  


As a newcomer to the industry, Harris Tweed Hebrides purchased the mothballed Shawbost mill in 2007.


The company now employs around 210 mill workers and home weavers.


The vast majority of the expansion cash came from the mill’s own resources with extremely little from public funds.


Brian Wilson, chairman of tweed firm, stressed the investment shows the company’s commitment and confidence in the future of the fabric.


He said the day was also tinged with sadness following the death of tweed giant Derick Murray who died this week. Mr Murray was the grandson of Kenneth Macleod who built the Shawbost mill about 100 years ago.


Mr Wilson said: “In a sense though, today also symbolises continuity. The passing of a baton which will help ensure Harris Tweed will be produced on this site for many years to come.”


Paul Alger - director of International Affairs at UK Fashion and Textile Association - said Harris Tweed is a big hit in fashion.


Mr Alger said Harris Tweed is an “exciting development” which proved the doomsayers wrong by “surviving and flourishing with new products, designs and following” with many international designers wanting the fabric in their collections.


Calum Iain Macleod explains the weaving process to Princess Anne

Princess Royal praises “unique” Harris Tweed

29 July 2017