Ruth referred to the flax bale seal found on the Flora Fields in her talk at the Storey ( slides and podcasts available shortly). She has discovered that there is reference to flax processing on Aldcliffe Lane, now Aldcliffe Rd. Joy Greenwood who was at the lecture has dug deeper with the following result:
Raw flax had to be retted, that is soaked in slow-moving water for about a fortnight after which it was raked out and put on banks to dry before heckling – releasing the fibres ready for spinning.Mary Higham ( History of Linen in the North West) describes a system used in the Ribble valley in 1765 consisting of a series of pools fed by a small stream. Could this have been used in Lancaster?
Later in the book, Margaret Robinson, talking about the flax trade, mentions imports from Baltic states and St.Petersburg to Lancaster in the 1700s as local production of the crop could not meet demand. She says that by 1750 there were flaxdressers in Lancaster, preparing it for the spinners. She quotes a Robert Green of Lancaster as an excellent example of a flaxman at that time. (If I remember rightly it was a ‘Green’ who owned the land alongside Aldcliffe Lane – any connection?)
On the 1840 (and 1890) map there is a Queens Mill shown on Aldclife Lane, probably where B & Q is now. On the strip fields to the east of this there is a path, shown in 1840, passing north to south through woodland. On the 1890 map I think this is labelled ‘rope walk’, and flax (and hemp) were used for ropes.
> Today this is approx. Blades Street.
According to Mary Higham, the linen industry sites are often associated with place names containing ‘lin’ , old english for flax. Just north of Queens Mill, on the 1890s map there is Lindow Street/Lindow Square – is this a coincidence – the rope walk’s northerly end is almost in a line with these?
Can anyone add to this?