The buildings in Verviers are a dream for fans of industrial history. Even though they have been considerably renovated everywhere, the town on the River Weser still exudes the charm of its past industrial history. As early as the 17th century small family businesses were producing woollen cloth for the local markets and regional markets beyond. By the 18th century a merchant class had grown up, consisting of around 100 manufacturers producing cloth in huge quantities and employing a huge amount of manual and skilled works like shearers, dyers and fullers. The English engineer, William Cockerill constructed the first wool-spinning machine on the continent for a local firm, Biolley-Simonis, thereby introducing a „wool-spinning“ industrial revolution to Verviers shortly after 1800. Around 1850 there were roughly 18,000 workers employed in the wool industry! And by 1854 there were 212 steam engines in operation here, 143 of which were in the wool industry! The factories in Verviers were widely acknowledged as a stronghold in introducing technical innovations into the wool cloth industry: indeed they were regarded as a practical academy of wool cloth manufacturing. Wool washing and wool trading also played an important role alongside the production of uniforms and woollen yarn cloth. Nowadays there are only a very firms still active in the textile sector.
But some „mementos“ remain. The Wool and Fashion Tourist Centre (CTLM) has now been set up in an old 18th century wool factory. Inside, rare original machines, fully-furnished workshops and atmospherically equipped rooms give visitors a palpable idea of the history of wool from thread to the finished cloth,. But this is not all. The museum also leads guests through the history of fashion. An audio system in four languages offers visitors the opportunity to tour the museum independently.
The show continues outside: „Out in the town of wool“ is the name of a walking tour leading past historic buildings and old textile machines placed along the waterside. And, for those with enough time and energy there is the „House of Water“ just a few hundred metres from the Tourist Centre. Here a lavish multimedia show takes guests into the Kingdom of the River Weser, the town´s old main artery.