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Heather Wastie

Welcome to my new blog which marks the start of my work as Writer in Residence at the Museum of Carpet. I’m thrilled to be involved with this exciting new organisation in Kidderminster, the home of carpet-making. In this blog I will be writing about and featuring people who once worked in the industry as well as sharing material written by other people involved in the project.  I will also be setting up a Facebook page. Maybe you would like to be involved? Take a look at the Residency page to find out how.

The seeds of the Weaving Yarns project were ‘sewn’ when I went on a fascinating tour of Kidderminster in 2011 led by Melvyn Thompson who was a key figure in setting up the Museum and is heavily involved today. Here’s his website http://www.thompson.gb.com/ More information about the Museum can be found here http://www.carpetmuseum.co.uk/

Here’s the poem I wrote after Melvyn’s tour.

The Bell and the Bull

When Brinton’s Piano Building
was gutted, they blamed the bell,
ringing its heart out, unheard above the blaze.

The grand piano curve
of Brinton’s boundary hugged The Sling,
a huge five-storey warehouse
which soon became a smouldering shell
while the tiny bell
on the nearby dyehouse drying room
failed in the job it was meant to do.

So now I find it pinned to the wall
of Slingfield Mill over Debenhams door
with a plaque I hadn’t noticed before.

When Brinton’s Piano Building
was gutted it was full of wool
on wooden floors, combustible yarns
with oil and gas lamp open flames,
a terrible shame to lose it all
but never fear, The Bull is here!

The Bull snorted steam and bellowed
once for a town fire,
twice for a district fire,
three times for a Brinton’s fire
till fire-fighting went professional
so they found another use for The Bull:

It started and ended the working day
and during the war at the dead of night
four short blasts and a longer one
warned Kiddy folk to stay at home.

On eleven eleven nineteen eighteen
it breathed a public sigh of relief
and many special occasions later
its final song was three long blasts
as Brinton’s finally closed its doors

and now I find the Brinton’s Bull
pinned to the wall in Weaver’s Wharf
with a plaque I hadn’t noticed before.

The Bull was louder and fitted the bill
so I feel quite sorry for Brinton’s Bell.

© Heather Wastie
August 2011

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