THE work of a Knutsford women is on display in the country’s famed Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Val Bryant, director of Knutsford Heritage Centre, discovered the run down spinning wheels when she visited the museum as part of a research project.

Curators took up her offer to fix ornate spinning wheels, which are now being used as part of their ‘Europe 1600 to 1815’ exhibition on display throughout the museum, which is one of Britain’s most well-known tourist attractions.

“I don’t often blow my own trumpet,” said Val. “But with this, I feel so proud that I had done some work for the V and A and they now have these lovely spinning wheels on display. This is the biggest museum in the country and there are the spinning wheels I repaired- and they are beautiful.

“I saw the spinning wheels and they said they were going to put them on display, but I knew they needed to be restored and put right.”

The spinning wheels, one an 18th Century small spinning wheel from Italian maker, Pietro Piffetti, and the other a French, 18th century ‘boudoir’ spinning wheel, were lovingly brought back to life by Val, who grew up learning about the skill.

She added: “I grew up with a mother who was a teacher of textiles and spinning. She was a weaver, I used to help her. It was constant in my house. My mother had friends round and I said, I would like to learn to spin- so then I started lessons.

“The two spindles that pulled the bobbin, David my husband made, and I set the whole thing up. I set them up so that people could see what it would look like if someone had left it just after spinning.”

Val got talking to staff at the museum after she wrote to them and asked if she could visit to record all the spinning wheels that were in their archives at Blythe House.

She explained that the ‘boudoir’ spinning wheel that she restored was often a symbol of wealth which would be adorned with either white or blue ribbons to signify a woman’s marital status. White ribbons would show that a woman was unmarried and available to suitors, whereas a blue ribbon would show married status.

She has decades of experience as an archivist and spent many years working at Quarry Bank Mill.

Now retired, she now spends her time working at the heritage centre on its archives and bringing to light often long-forgotten pieces of Knutsford history.

To view the spinning wheels online visit the Victoria and Albert collections via

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