Romney Tweed CIC as a social enterprise has the twin aims of encouraging local industry and helping young people acquire skills. Romney Tweed has embarked on several initiatives involving local organisations and spreading knowledge of weaving and textiles.
The Romney Tweed Fashion Challenge, run across Kent secondary schools and based on the colours of the local environment, focusses on spreading knowledge of weaving and the textiles industry, plus educates on the virtues of wool as a sustainable, homegrown material.
Romney Tweed continues with its aim to bring skills and employment to the Marsh. Plans include acquiring production looms for small scale bespoke projects as well as holding weaving courses.
‘In the year 697, King Wihtred of Kent gave to the monastery at Lyminge pasture for 300 sheep in Romney Marsh’.
From early medieval times, Romney wool played a significant part in the English woollen industry, which was the most important export commodity to Europe in the Middle Ages. It subsequently became a major source for the Broadcloth industry of Wealden Kent. By the end of the 19th century, Romney sheep had been exported over much of the world. The Romney Sheep Breeders Society’s Register of Exports is witness to the old saying that ‘The Sun never sets on a Romney’.
Romney Tweed CIC was set up in 2014. Research supported by expertise from within the Yorkshire woollen industry showed that Romney wool, traditionally used in carpets and blankets, could also be used to make fine worsted cloth. A collection of Romney Tweed designs was marketed in Savile Row and overseas in 2015 by a national cloth merchant. In 2018 Romney Tweed moved into premises of its own at Old Romney which were used for design, weaving courses, and sales. In 2019 two designers who had taken part in a Romney Tweed project at Central St Martins in 2014 produced designs rooted in the Kent landscape for Royal St George’s Golf Club. Later in 2019, a new collection based on the Marsh coastline was produced and a Fashion Challenge project with local schools was set up.
Romney Tweed is proud to continue working with schools across Kent to ensure the significance of the Romney breed, its provenance, along with its benefits to us, and the planet, which continue to thrive here on the Romney Marsh.
ROMNEY TWEED TIMELINE
The Worshipful Company of World Traders’ Sheep Drive over London Bridge, in which twenty perfectly groomed Romney sheep and 500 Freemen of the City of London took part, was the start of the relationship with the Romney Sheep Breeders society and Romney wool
A socio-economic report on Romney Marsh recorded that “there seems to be higher levels of deprivation with regards to education, skills and training in Romney Marsh, with the greatest concentrations being around Lydd and New Romney. A Skills Festival at the Marsh Academy was supported by over twenty Livery Companies of the City of London and became an annual county-wide event. The Section on Agriculture included a display of hand spinning and weaving of Romney wool
Over a period of 12 months, research by experienced mentors in the textiles heartlands of Yorkshire proved the suitability of Romney wool for apparel and the first fine worsted yarn was exclusively produced
Romney Tweed is founded. Pictured: Patricia Alston, Founder
Weavers and students of Central St Martins produced designs and samples based on the Romney Marsh, and in particular, Dungeness and the historic Marsh Churches, to test the suitability of Romney wool for various purposes
Our Heritage Collection is launched – marketed nationally to Savile Row and internationally by Dugdale Bros
The move to The Granary enabled a weaving hub, showroom, and administrative centre to be established, with locally-made products in Romney tweed and weaving courses provided for the local community
Romney Tweed’s first bespoke commission came from The Royal St George’s Golf Club at Sandwich. In conjunction with this, a charitable Fashion Challenge was held with students from Sandwich Technical School and The Marsh Academy learning to design and weave their own tweed
HRH Princess Alexandra tours the Granary, and is presented with a length of Romney cloth
Thanks to the support of The Worshipful Company of Drapers, Romney Tweed returned once again the famous London Bridge Sheep Drive and Livery Fair. This time, proudly exhibiting its cloth and products
HRH Princess Alexandra has been spotted several times wearing her Heritage Collection 'Broomhill' cloth presented to her back in 2019
The next phase...
Watch this space for some exciting news to be announced soon!
Sir David Wootton
Former Lord Mayor of the City of London. Currently Master of the Worshipful Company of Woolmen
Gordon Kaye, RIP.
Romney Tweed CIC is deeply sad to record the passing on 2nd June, of Gordon Kaye, our Patron, Mentor, and Friend whose great kindness and willingness to become involved in our vision from the earliest moment sustained us over the last ten years. Without his inspiration, knowledge and expertise we would never have got off the ground
Patricia Alston ONZM
Founder of Romney Tweed CIC, former Chairman of British Diplomatic Spouses Association, Chairman of World Traders Sheep Drive Committee 2008. Has served as a Trustee on various charities
Robert Alston CMG,QSO,DL
Retired diplomat, Member of Kent Ambassadors and retired Deputy Lieutenant of Kent; former Chairman of the Governors of Marsh Academy and Ardingly College. Past Master World Trader
Retired CEO, Romney Resource Centre, which specialises in assisting educational underachievers, NEETS, the unemployed and early school leavers
Retired lecturer in agriculture, with wide experience of agricultural education and training. Consultant/mentor and breeder of pedigree sheep. Breed society sheep judge and wool judge. Previous Breed Secretary for Romney Sheep Breeders’ Society. Extensive experience of sheep production in the UK, Europe and the Middle East
Steve Carpenter FCA
Retired director of taxation in the Maidstone office of a national firm of chartered accountants. Now holding active but non-executive directorships of three companies. Past chairman of a Kent charity working with children with learning difficulties
An independent Social Sustainability Consultant and Researcher. She has an MA from Warwick University in International Security (2020). Nadine has over twenty years of working in business and social responsibility. Her most recent work is in the field of social sustainability and social impact with a particular focus on women farmers working in global supply chains in Africa
DESIGNER + WEAVER
SALES + EVENTS