The town of Kidderminster on the lower reaches of the River Stour in Worcestershire gave its name in the seventeenth century to ‘Kidderminster Stuff’, a fairly heavy woollen fabric used for curtains and for ‘carpets’ (in the sense of cloths laid on tables or chests). In the course of the eighteenth century the town became one of the most celebrated centres in England for the manufacture of carpets in the modern sense, i.e. woven floor coverings. The town came to be dominated by multi-storey steam-powered mills, many of them designed in a distinctive style by the Birmingham architect J.G.Bland who was responsible for the Stour Vale Mills, completed in 1856, where he made extensive use of white brick, especially on the engine house. The carpet industry in Kidderminster contracted in the late twentieth century although several firms remain in production.
The Museum of Carpet, set up in the Stour Vale Mills, presents traditional cloth weaving techniques on 19th century handlooms as well as magnificent 19th & 20th century power looms still weaving carpet. Cloth products and the carpet woven on these looms are for sale in the museum shop. The story of Carpet Manufacture in Kidderminster is told in a series of galleries through films, hands-on activities, including a design your own carpet projection, and demonstrations from volunteers with their own stories of working in the industry. An extensive design archive and technical library is available for reference and research.