Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Noble Comb

The sorted wool was scoured and washed to get rid of dirt and impurities. It was then prepared (the equivalent of carding, which couldn't be used because it would break the long fibres needed for fine worsted). By this means the fibres were disentangled and aligned more or less parallel, in long 'slivers' of wool. These were then ready for combing, a process which further straightened the fibres and sorted out the long ones (tops) used for worsted, from the short ones (noils) which couldn't be used. There were various types of combing machine. The one in my photo is called a Noble comb and Salts Mill had many of these.

Funnily enough, the Shipley pub where we often have get-togethers from work is called The Noble Comb. Until I went to the museum, I hadn't realised where the name originated.
I think there must be a lot of pubs in this area whose names relate to the wool industry - The Shears in West Vale (featured on Alan's blog A Pint of the Best) being but one. There's also, of course, the famed Woolpack in the TV soap Emmerdale. (Maybe I'll go on a pub name hunt one day!)

When Salts Mill was opened in 1853, a grand banquet (see 26 August) took place in the Combing Shed - there were over 3,500 guests, so you can imagine how big the room is. It is now one of the areas occupied by Pace Electronics.


  1. Nice Comb Jenny !! This is a beautiful post ~~!!

  2. delightful---but how does the noble comb work ie how and where does the raw material enter the machine. are there any machinists still alive.


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