A positive spin on textiles

Local | Bernard Charnwut Chan 10 Jul 2019

The start of Hong Kong's modern textiles industry dates back to the very beginning of the 20th century.

But such factors as humidity, labor shortages and poor power supplies hindered development. It was the Shanghai region that took off as a major textiles hub in the 1920s and 1930s. In the late 1940s the industry expanded again in Hong Kong. It formed the backbone of our export manufacturing sector during the 1950s and 1960s, and by the early 1970s there were some 40 spinning mills.

Most textiles processes subsequently moved to the mainland or elsewhere, though some niche producers are still in business here.

One of our old manufacturing facilities, the Nan Fung Textiles mills in Tsuen Wan, has been turned into a conservation project dedicated to this core part of Hong Kong's economic and social history.

The Mills conservation project includes the Center for Heritage, Arts and Textile, which opened in March. (The directors insist on "Textile" - no "s" - to emphasize the broad theme rather than a specific focus on fabrics.)

The center hosts exhibitions and educational activities concerning design, art, craftsmanship and community.

Current attractions worth seeing include Gathering Delights, an exhibition by Indian artist N S Harsha; Re-spinning the Yarn, an interactive re-creation of a textiles mill; and Hau Tei Square, a work by Taiwan artist Michael Lin.

The center also has a bookstore and a coffee shop.

Most of all, perhaps, it preserves a vital part of our heritage. See www.mill6chat.org for details.

Bernard Charnwut Chan is chairman of The Jockey Club CPS Advisory Committee


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