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Published: 23 June 2018

By Andy Ross

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Linen Stories

A new touring exhibition traces the history and creative endeavour of the linen industry. 

Linen has an ancient tale to tell; one of industry and craft, and this exhibition is all about those stories. It will do that in various ways; collaborations, talks and artistic interpretation and, so it seems to me, will focus on different aspects in different locations. It looks fascinating and, if any of you loyal readers out there get a chance to go, please won't you email and tell us about it. The exhibition will tour Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands, showcasing the important trade that brought these countries together. 

Shetland has its very own linen story. In 1770 at a place called Catfirth on the Mainland, James Hay started a linen weaving operation and bleachfield. By 1776 all the capital had been used up and the venture failed but it is still possible to go to Catfirth and see the ruins of the weave mill and what could possibly be the remains of a canal for the power to work the mill. If you are on Facebook head over to the Shetland Amenity Trust page and have a look at the information and pictures there. James Hay went onto greater things in the fishing industry (and as a smuggler of Dutch gin!) but we applaud his attempt to contribute to the Industrial Revolution in the isles. 

Thank you to Hilary in Orkney for sending this on. All reader contributions gratefully accepted.