Welcome to Axminster Heritage Centre’s ‘Local History’ home page. Our long-term objective is to increase public access to a wide range of information about the history of our town and its surrounds, and we have organised the information under four headings. The website contains many ‘live’ documents covering individual topics, which will be expanded and enhanced via an active process of user feed-back and pro-active research on our part.
1. Carpet making in Axminster
This section of the website covers two distinct eras of carpet making in Axminster.
From 1755 until 1835 Thomas Whitty and his family made hand-knotted carpets on special vertical looms which had been designed by Thomas himself. These early carpets were individually designed for the houses and palaces where they were to be installed, and the link above will take you to accounts of various key events and stages in the business, up to and including the bankruptcy of Thomas’ grandson, Samuel Ramson Whitty, in 1835. This was followed by the sale of the factory and looms a year later. This important aspect of Axminster’s heritage provides the major focus for the exhibits in the Axminster Heritage Centre.
You can also find here on our website details of a considerable number of surviving Whitty carpets which can still be seen at locations all over the country. These carpets were all made by Thomas, his son and grandsons.
In 1937, 101 years after the sale of the original Whitty carpet factory, Axminster’s second carpet-making era got under way when Harry Dutfield moved here from Kidderminster with a small handful of trusted and skilled carpet makers with whom he had been working for several years. The Dutfield family’s stewardship of Axminster Carpets Ltd ended in 2016, but the factory continues to work under new ownership.
2. Introduction to the history of Axminster
This is the first section of the website to be populated with information. Please click on the link above to discover more.
3. Axminster people, organisations, occupations, places and events
- Selected people (including pen portraits of prominent citizens)
- Organisations (covering Civic bodies, as well as social and sporting clubs etc)
- Occupations (farming, industry, commerce etc)
- Selected events from the town’s history
While we build this part of the website, we would particularly welcome suggestions and contributions from far and wide. If in doubt please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestion(s), and we will do our best to incorporate them.
Our aim is not to duplicate information already available elsewhere, so we will also provide
4. Links to other websites