United Kingdom

Warner Textile Archive, Warners Mill, Silks Way
Phone: 01376 557741
Fax: 01376 327849

Warner Textile Archive

Warner Textile Archive was saved for the nation by Braintree District Museum Trust in 2004 following a successful application for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and grants from other charitable bodies. The Archive came 'home' to Braintree in February 2005 and is now housed in part of the original mill, now a Grade 2 listed building, where much of the fabric was either designed or woven. The archive houses one of the largest textile collections in Britain and is representative of how influential the UK’s soft furnishing industry was in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Permanent Collection

Now in the public domain the archive is at last accessible to everyone interested in the history and development of textile design. One of the aims of the archive is to inspire new work by designers and to encourage schools, colleges and textile artists to use the archive’s extensive resources.

The Archive is made up of a number of collections. The core collection contains 60,000 printed and woven samples representing the output of Warner & Sons whose silk weaving business, was based in Braintree between 1895 - 1971. The Archive includes an unparalleled collection of powerwoven designs by Herbert Woodman, Bertrand Whittaker, Alec Hunter, Marianne Straub and Frank Davies; trials and experiments for Jacquard and dobby cloths; Coronation and other royal fabrics.

In addition there is a collection of fabrics, dating from the 18th century, that the company’s directors and designers collected from around the world. This collection formed the basis of what eventually became the Warner Textile Archive and inspired many of the designs that the company produced.

The Archive now includes every example of woven and printed fabric produced by Warner & Sons as well as examples produced by the companies that it took over. Fortunately every time Warner and Sons acquired a company it kept the relevant ledgers and fabrics associated with that company. It could be argued that the Warner directors and designers had the foresight to keep samples of their own fabric production and paperwork for prosperity but maybe it’s down to a hoarding instinct, a love of fabric and a reluctance to chuck anything away. Whatever the motives unknowingly they put together one of the countryâ€...+ [ Read all ]


The Gallery, which opened to the public in October 2005, is a celebration of the fabrics and designs housed within the Archive and a tribute to the work of the designers, weavers, dyers, printers and all the other skilled workers that worked for Warner & Sons. Colour, shape and texture are the key words to describe the Gallery. Every drawer and display case takes the visitor on an exciting visual voyage of discovery from Warner’s unique three-pile velvets, the intricate woven silks of Owen Jones, cutting edge designs of the 1920s and 1930s, through to iconic designs of the late twentieth century.

Forthcoming exhibitions

29 March – 31 May 2008
This well-known exhibiting group have taken inspiration from the Archive’s designs dating between 1940 – 1980.

July 2008
The Archive begins working with the students in January to use the collections as inspiration for new work – especially sculptural pieces which will be displayed in the Gallery during the summer.

13 September – 8 November 2008
Members of the Guild have taken up the challenge of creating new work inspired by the Archive’s collections.


Entrance charge for Gallery:

£3 adults (£2 concessions)

50p children 5 - 16 years

under 5's free

Opening hours

11am - 4pm Wednesday - saturday

Admission to Archive 10am - 4pm for researchers Tuesday - Friday

Getting there

5 minutes walk from railway station and bus stops; 20 minutes from Stansted Airport, free parking at Archive for cars, mini buses and coaches


parking for disabled drivers, ramp to entrance (gallery and store on one floor), toilets, baby change, sales area, coffee machine

Museum internal and external photos (1)

Click on the images to enlarge


The Archive is an invaluable and untapped resource for primary schools and secondary schools, suitable for cross-curricular projects as well as specific subject based work. The Archive’s team work closely with teachers to ensure that teaching objectives are met during students’ visits which may just be a general visit to the Gallery or a hands-on study session in the Archive’s store. There is also the opportunity to meet with a textile artist and find out how the Archive has inspired them and the techniques that they use in their work. For more information telephone 01376 557803 or email


Groups are welcome to arrange a guided tour of the Archive and Gallery. For more information telephone 01376 557741 or email


The Archive team is happy to plan tailor-made sessions for schools.(see education)


There are several interactive activities for children within the gallery including worksheets available from reception.


One of the aims of the archive is to inspire new work by designers and to encourage schools, colleges and textile artists to use the archive’s extensive resources.


Contact the Archive for information about workshops, talks and tours planned throughout the year. Telephone 01376 557741 or email


Support the work of the Braintree District Museum Trust and help to ensure that the Archive is preserved for future generations by becoming a member of the WTA Club. For more information telephone 01376 557803 or email


Warner Textile Archive welcomes enquiries form companies interested in sponsoring the archive's exhibitions and educational activities. Please contact the Development Manager on 01376 557803 or email