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Silk Ribbon Weaving in Coventry

By 1821 there were 5,000 ribbon weavers in Coventry out of a population of 21,000. By 1841 there were 30,000 weavers in Coventry working on 3,500 plain and 2228 Jacquard looms. This influx of weavers caused major housing problems because of the wall that surrounded the city and because the weavers, who were freemen, had no rights over the ring of common land surrounding the city walls.

The area of Hillfields was created as a settlement outside of the city walls. This occurred in 1828 and Hillfields became the area for the most skilled craftsmen that Coventry had. Many factories were set up to manufacture ribbon on a more commercial basis but there were dissenting voices amongst the craftsmen. Indeed the first factory built to manufacture ribbon was burnt to the ground by the weavers. In the late 1850's peace was achieved and predominant amongst the peacemakers were the Cash brothers. Cash's labels continues to this day carrying out the same sort of ribbon and label making that it always has.

By 1860 the industry had collapsed because of cheap imports. Many of the weavers emigrated to the colonies. J.J Cash still exists in Coventry.