The Journal for Weavers Spinners and Dyers

Journal Timeline

Hilary Miller, Gwynedd Guild, and Alison Castle, Durham Guild

The Quarterly Journal of the Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers was first published 70 years ago in March 1952. The editorial in the first issue reflects the background to its publication in the post-war period, commenting that: ‘The launching of a Journal in these difficult days of paper shortage and high printing costs may perhaps seem daring and even foolhardy, but the demand for such a Journal has become so pressing that it was no longer to be denied.’ The energy created by the rapid formation of Guilds across the country was the driver for joint action, even before the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers had been formed. Since then production has been unbroken, despite periods when there clearly were difficulties. What is outstanding is that the Journal has been produced by volunteers over the whole period.

We have drawn up a timeline setting out key events which preceded the current publication and the life of the Journal over the last seventy years.

Quarterly News 1939
Quarterly News 1939

The Forerunner

1932 – 1939      The Guild of Weavers and Dyers was formed in 1931, and from 1934 became The Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, a UK-wide organisation. In 1932 it published the first quarterly News Sheet, which started as a single sheet, increasing to 6 pages and from issue 12, May 1935, it became the Quarterly News of the Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, a centre folded A5-equivalent of 15 pages, with the Eric Gill logo still used by the Association today, on its cover. The aim was to keep members in touch and provide information about Guild activities such as Summer School, conference, exhibition and advertisements. It began to include notes on items of interest, information about forthcoming exhibitions and short articles, such as an article on summer & winter weave structure, with drafts and a black and white photograph.

The final issue was 29/30 in December 1939, after which wartime disruption made it impossible to continue. The Guild went into abeyance but was not formally wound up until 1954.

Issue 1 1952
Issue 1 1952

The Journal in its various guises

1952      The Quarterly Journal of the Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers was launched by an Editorial Committee as a result of a meeting in Bristol during an exhibition of weaving in 1951. Ten original Guilds had started around 1949: Cornwall, Devonshire, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hallamshire and District, Hampshire, Kent, London and Home Counties, Somerset, and Warwickshire with Worcestershire and Staffordshire; they were joined by several newer Guilds including Cambridgeshire and Sussex.

The initial committee comprised: Hilary Bourne, Alice Hindson, Elsie M. Davenport, E. Sheila MacEwan (Chair), F. Dickinson and Hester Viney, with Mrs A. Broadbent as Honorary Treasurer. The first editor was Joanna Bourne, Hilary Bourne’s sister, who was sub-editor of the magazine Time and Tide and offered her professional knowledge to support the new Journal1.

1954      The Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, which had ceased activity in 1940, formally wound up its affairs and bequeathed its assets of £83 0s 0d to the Editorial Committee of the Quarterly Journal. The Council of the original Guild gave permission to the Journal to use ‘their beautiful colophon, designed by the late Eric Gill’. This then appeared in the Quarterly Journal on the page listing Guild contacts.

1955      The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers was formed, and the Journal Committee was incorporated within it.


Top: L to R 1960 and 1967, Bottom: L to R 1973 and 1975
Top: L to R 1960 and 1967, Bottom: L to R 1973 and 1975

1958      In issue 27 (September) the Eric Gill logo was replaced by a new Association badge, which was the result of a competition, won by Mr R. E. Twining, Cheltenham. This was used until issue 60 (December 1966). There followed a period of some 14 years without any form of identifying logo, either on the cover or in the body of the Journal.

1976      The reference to Guilds in the title was dropped as the name was changed to Weavers Journal. The Editorial of issue 97 explains: ‘1976 brings a new name and a new look to the Journal. The title seems more appropriate now that our readers include so many non-Guild subscribers both at home and overseas.’ The Weavers Journal continued in small format, with cover in colour but internal illustrations in black and white until No 116 (Winter 1980).  Glossy paper was introduced from No 100 (Winter 1976), and the average number of pages during this period rose to approximately 40.

Journal Covers 1976
Journal Covers 1976

1980-1       The Weavers Journal changed to a new format. The Editorial in the Winter issue 1980 (issue 116) notes that ‘1980 has been a disastrous year for the Journal with constant problems in getting it out. Your next Journal will have a new layout and shape and the contents will appeal to a broader range of Guild members.’ This was the final Journal printed by the Ditchling Press.

In issue 113 (Spring 1980) there was an announcement that, at the Association's AGM in May 1979, it had been decided that the Eric Gill logo would be used as the Association's emblem. Although it was prominent on the Index to Journals 1 – 100 which accompanied issue 114 (Summer 1980), the logo didn't reappear in the Journal itself until issue 117 (Spring 1981) which was the first in the new ‘square-ish’ format. The content remained approximately the same, as the number of pages was reduced to 32. It retained the coloured cover, but inside illustrations were all black and white until the last three issues of this format, when there was a couple of colour pages inside.

Weavers Journal 1982
Weavers Journal 1982

1984      The cover name was changed to The Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers from issue 131.

1986      From issue 138, January 1986, the current larger format with a colour image on the front cover was adopted. For some years the back page was a full page colour advertisement, but subsequently was used for images related to the content of the issue. The change may be related to comments that the recession had caused a fall in advertising demand.

1992      The fortieth anniversary of the Journal was marked in issue 161. Hilary Bourne (Editorial Committee member 1952 – 1956) provided an article on How it All Began and Mary Barker (committee member in various roles 1952 – 1983) wrote The Journal: From Past to Present. Mary commented that articles ‘were sent in but not paid for and the Committee had to be on stand-by to pick up their pens to fill the gaps.’ Much the same today – but we reach for our keyboards rather than our pens.

Journal Cover 1986
Journal Cover 1986

1999      The Journal designer, Ros Lobb, redesigned the Journal; advertising increased.

2001      The magazine becomes full colour.

2009      The Peter Collingwood Special Edition was published as an additional (unnumbered) issue and was received by all subscribers. Peter Collingwood (1922 – 2008) was well known as an innovative weaver with wide-ranging interests and was a member of the Journal Editorial Committee for 29 years from 1954. He contributed numerous articles, book and exhibition reviews, some of which were reprinted in the Special Edition (which is available in digital format from the Journal website).



Journal Cover 2015
Journal Cover 2015

2011      From issue 240 subscribers could order via the Journal website.

2012      The Journal joins social media with Facebook and Twitter accounts.

2016      Issue 257 was the first to be available in digital as well as print format. For the technically minded: Over her long spell as Journal designer Ros Lobb oversaw the change to electronic design, adopting the software QuarkXPress to arrange the whole magazine ready for print at Henry Ling. Sam Ross took over as designer in 2018, using InDesign software and the complete layout, including advertisements is sent digitally to the printers.


1   Letter from Hilary Bourne. Issue 151, July 1989, p28.

About the authors: Alison contracted the spinning/weaving/dyeing bug when working in North London in the late 1970s, and still has it more than forty years and several locations later. She currently holds the Journal Archive, and is very happy to research any queries from any source.

Hilary has enjoyed looking through old copies of the Journal to research this piece.


This article appears in edition #281 of the Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.

The Journal is published on behalf of the Association of Guilds of Spinners Weavers and Dyers. It covers a wide range of textile subjects, including articles on historic textile techniques and cutting edge modern design.

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