Princess officially opens Harris Tweed extension
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.