This film is part of Free

Linen Weaving

Enter a giant of the Belfast linen industry and get a joyful glimpse of workers in this bustling York Street mill.

Sponsored film 1957 1 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Northern Ireland Screen


Witness one of Belfast’s largest mills at work in its final years. Delight in the rhythm of the weavers at work. Soak in the vibrant colours of the linen roving before joining the production line in its silent song.

This mighty industry has its roots in a 1778 experiment spinning cotton in Belfast’s Poor House. York Street Mill was first opened in 1830 and would close in the early 1960s. At its peak it employed many thousands and could boast some 90,000 spindles and 1,000 power looms. By the early Twentieth Century, Belfast was established as the foremost centre for linen production in the world. World War Two boosted the industry, with the manufacture of linen integral to the production of various items, from clothing to parachutes. In later years, a shift towards synthetic fibres would mark the decline of linen production. These rushes come from the collection of National Museums Northern Ireland.