The London Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers was set up in 1950 by Mrs Gwendoline Shaw, whose dedication and enthusiasm gave a hugely successful start to the Guild. A booklet, History of the London Guild 50th anniversary, was compiled in 2000 to mark this landmark anniversary and this gives a fascinating overview of its early history.
Throughout the early 2000s the Guild continued to meet at St Stephen’s House in South Kensington, moving in 2018 to Carmelita House in Vauxhall, our present venue for face-to-face meetings. The main monthly meetings attracted excellent speakers on a wide range of pertinent topics, some of them our own members, such as the renowned and greatly missed Peter Collingwood.
We continued our important work of reaching out to the wider community to create awareness of our heritage crafts by holding exhibitions, public demonstrations and events such as informal spinning meetings in public venues. Our exhibitions showcased an impressive array of work at venues including the London Wetland Centre at Barnes, Orleans House at Twickenham, Islington Central Library, WAC Gallery at Waterloo , The Crypt at St Martin-in-the-fields (twice) and Southwark Cathedral.
Our 60th anniversary was celebrated by our ‘Diamond’ exhibition at the WAC Gallery and a bumoer 60 page edition of Warp & Weft.
We created special interest groups for weavers, spinners, dyers and tapestry weavers to focus in more depth on their particular areas of specialisation, generally meeting at the main Guild venue in the mornings prior to the afternoon speaker-led session. These groups have gained in popularity and in their importance to members of the Guild.
The Guild has always been ready to embrace the technological advances that have made communication more efficient and cost-effective. We established our first website in 2000, began issuing a regular newsletter by email as well as gradually moving Warp & Weft to a full colour printed and an online version available to members through a password gateway.
The pandemic created a whole raft of new challenges for the Guild, with no in-person meetings in prospect for some time. But thanks to creative thinking by our programme team, we soon began meeting again via Zoom with an excellent array of speakers, this time available from anywhere in the world (time zones permitting). Although we deeply missed the personal contact and ability to touch fibres, yarns and fabrics and to see colours in real life, the Zoom format is now an equally valued part of the programme mix.
Our 70th anniversary passed in 2020, mid-pandemic, without specific celebration, for obvious reasons. But, as the Guild continues with a strong team at the helm and increasing membership numbers, we can no doubt look forward to many future anniversary celebrations.