Wooden flying shuttle with pirn of cotton yarn, c.1920 - 1960. From Elm Street Mill, Burnley. Engraved on one side: "Pilkington Limited Heywood", and on opposite side "659/ B-A).
Shuttles like these were essential to Britain’s cotton industry. A shuttle carries yarn – the weft – back and forth across a loom, weaving cloth as it passes over and under the warp threads. From the early 19th century armies of mill workers followed the shuttles on their power looms back and forth, deftly catching them and replacing spent spools to keep the loom running and contracting chronic diseases from ‘kissing the shuttle’ to suck thread through the eyehole.