Princess of­fi­cially opens Har­ris Tweed ex­ten­sion

The Oban Times - - Districts -

THE PRINCESS Royal praised the ‘ unique qual­ity and com­mu­nity val­ues’ of Har­ris Tweed when she of­fi­cially opened an ex­ten­sion to the com­pany’s mill at Shaw­bost, Isle of Lewis.

Af­ter tour­ing the mill, in her role as Pres­i­dent of the UK Fash­ion and Tex­tiles As­so­ci­a­tion, the Princess Royal praised the new £2.4 mil­lion dye­house as an ‘ in­vest­ment for the next gen­er­a­tion’.

Com­pany chair­man Brian Wil­son said the in­dus­try de­pended on ‘unique pro­tec­tion and a unique struc­ture’.

In re­turn, its cus­to­di­ans owed an obli­ga­tion to the is­lands to pass it on in ro­bust health, which the lat­est in­vest­ment would help to en­sure.

He said it was some­times as­sumed in­vest­ment in pe­riph­eral places was de­pen­dent on pub­lic funds but that 90 per cent of the lat­est in­vest­ment had come from the com­pany’s re­sources. ‘It is pos­si­ble to be both pe­riph­eral and suc­cess­ful, which is an im­por­tant les­son,’ he said.

Ian An­gus MacKen­zie, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Har­ris Tweed He­brides, said: ‘This is a ma­jor in­vest­ment in the fu­ture of the in­dus­try and a state­ment of con­fi­dence on the part of our com­pany. A decade ago, Shaw­bost Mill was closed and derelict. We are very proud of what has been achieved since then and are con­fi­dent Har­ris Tweed can con­tinue to be a ma­jor force within the He­bridean econ­omy for many years.’

The Princess Royal spoke to mill staff, weavers and cus­tomers dur­ing a mill tour and re­cep­tion.

She was pre­sented with a length of tweed in the special de­sign of the Scot­tish Rugby Union of which she is pa­tron and with whom Har­ris Tweed He­brides has an on­go­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion.

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