.VISIT TO THE ROSED ALE WOOLLEN MILLS. It is now about eight months since the Rosedale Woollen Mills started operations. Persons wishing to see the mills at work may easily ido so by taking the North Invercargill 'bus, which runs to within about half a mile of the mills. They form a substantial brick structure, which is situated near the former site of Cruickshank’s sawmills. Not so many years ago the locality was covered with dense bush—now it is cleared and cultivated, and the town is steadily creeping out towards the banks of the Waihopai The new enterprise may be expected to advance with the growing, size and prosperity of our town, and to have a promising future before it.
The Rosedale Woollen Mills are under the management of Messrs Smaill. one of whom courteously conducted us over the factory, and explained the various operations. To describe fully the various processes through which the wool goes before it -emerges as blankets and tweeds would be a lengthy affair. Indeed, it is not easy to grasp all the details on a cursory inspection, the array of whirling rollers and spindles being somewhat bewildering, but the main features of the manufacture are as follows : —The wool, on reaching the factory must undergo a thorough scouring so free It from dust and grease. Next it is dried by being placed on, large wire-netting frames placed over pipes heateh with steam. Even after this cleansing process the wool looks rather unpromising for converting into white and fleecy flannels and blankets. It is tangled and lumpy, and may have burs and other foreign matter adhering to it. But the “teasing” process, which comes next, separates the fibres, and frees the wool from seeds and other debris-. The wool is then put through the carding machine, and formed first into loose fleecy strands, then into thread, which is wound on spools. The thread has next to go through the spinning jenny, which twists the fibre together, and converts the loose threads into yarn. This is now ready for the manufacture of blankets and flannels, for which the wool is left in its natural colour. But the yarn destined for tweeds, hosiery, and for the coloured borders of the blankets is dyed before being worker! up. A large quantity of each colour wanted is dyed by one use of the dyeing vat, and the different colours of the yarn are variously combined to produce the numerous varieties of tweeds, wools for hosiery, etc. The day we 'visited the mills only blankets were being woven, but we were shown specimens of tweeds for suits, ladies' costumes, etc., the goods- -being both substantial and attractive in appearance. The weaving process is very fascinating to watch. The “warp” is first put on to beams, then the loom puts in the “weft,” and the yarn becomes woven cloth or blankets. Blankets are woven in lengths of ten pairs at a time. When taken ■from the loom they are hard, yellow, and uninviting, looking like unbleached calico rather than wool. They must then be bleached with sulphur, and then carded out. The bleaching is -done in a detached building, the walls of which are filled with sawdust to render them air-tight. Here the 'g'oo-ds to be bleached are spread on a frame and subjected to the action of sulphur fumes, being usually left in the sulphur-chamber over night. The carding Then raises the nap, and the blankets become white and fleecy as blankets should be. A final -drying is given out of doors-, the blanket lengths being stretched on upright, frames in sun and wind. At present the number of hands is twenty, eight being women. The industry, of course, is still in its first stages. Its enterprising conductors hope before long to increase their works, and to undertake the manufacture of a greater variety of goods. Hosiery has already been turned out, and it is intended to make this a regular department of the manulactorv.
There is already a brisk 'demand for Rosedale blankets, and as the capacity of the mills becomes better known the demand for the goods turned out by it will increase. The managers have had to overcome the difficulties 1 of starting a complicated manufacture on a small scale, and with a dearth of skilled labour. These difficulties have been surmounted, and now the mills have a promising future before them. The idea of wearing woollens made from South® land wool and worked up in a South-
land factory is one that should com-* mend itself to all Southlanders. Even our largest mills, as those of Eoslyn and Kaiapoi, may not he able to rival the great European factories in the lighter and more highly-finish-ed class of goods. On the other hand, where purity of substance and strength of make are essentials, our New Zealand articles are unsurpassed. Mosgiel and Eoslyn rugs, blankets and tweeds have attracted admiration wherever they have become known. New Zealanders who care to encourage native industries and to discourage shoddy and sweating, should not fail, whenever practicable, to prefer the home article to the imported, and Southlanders will surely not be behindhand in supportig a local industry, which will provide employment for a large number of hands. Woollen manufacture should be a characteristic and profitable industry in a great w-001-producing country like New Zealand, and considering the rising population and prosperity of our town, it is not over sanguine to look forward to a time when the Eosedale Mills w r ill equal those of Eoslyn.
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Local Industries., Southern Cross, Volume 15, Issue 28, 2 November 1907
Local Industries. Southern Cross, Volume 15, Issue 28, 2 November 1907
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