This film is part of Free

Durham Carpets

The warp, the weft, and a good old yarn! Hugh Mackays display an explosion of colourful 1970s carpet designs in Durham.

Documentary 1978 24 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


His working day begins and ends with the song of the looms. The historic firm of Hugh Mackays, which carpeted British royal palaces, and Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, keeps the centuries-old tradition of weaving alive in Durham. This respectful, richly detailed 1970s promotional documentary elaborates on their global clients, colourful artist designs and the beautifully intricate weaving process of luxurious Axminster and tufted Wilton patterns.

This is a technically confident film by Turners of Newcastle, who enjoyed a significant presence in post-war publicity film production for North East based industries and businesses until 1999. There are fascinating scenes on (Jacquard) punch card technology and the sophistication of loom programming, set to the mechanical tune of a Pianola. Founded in 1903, Hugh Mackay made a big impression at Newcastles North East Coast Exhibition in1929, a world trade fair held at the start of the Great Depression that attracted over 4 million people, where the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) operated a five-frame Mackay loom working on a rug later auctioned for the Durham Castle restoration fund.