Part 3 of the series written by G Gohl for the HW&SG Journals in 1979/80 concerning progress of the ‘Manufactory’ at Parramatta.
Governor Hunter wrote to the Duke of Portland in April 1800:
“Your Grace may be assured that I do not neglect such means as may be in my power for trying what may be done to establish the weaving of cloth. The specimens sent by this conveyance, although prepared under many disadvantages, may serve to show what may be expected as soon as we have abundance of raw materials in our power. The sheep thrive exceedingly and the specimens of woollen cloth will in some degree show the quality of fleece; the breed of sheep which produced the wool is between the Cape ram and the Bengal ewe.
“The web of linen is our first attempt and is from the wild flax of this country, which will no doubt improve from cultivation. At one end of this web it is crossed by a thread spun from the bark of a tree, and a web from that bark is crossed at one end with a thread of wool. These specimens will, I hope, satisfy your Grace that much may be done here in due time.”
However, when Governor King took over from Hunter, he also wrote to the Duke of Portland in September 1800:
“No further progress has been made in the manufacture of cloth and linen than the samples which I understand Governor Hunter took home with him. It appears that this necessary work has been hindered by want of flax seed and manufacturers. Some good workmen are among the Irish convicts lately brought here, which will in some measure make up for the loss of the Master Weaver who was drowned on the passage out – four men, two flax-dressers and two weavers, convicts for life, have been selected to conduct the manufacture and I have made their eventual emancipation the reward for bringing that manufacture to perfection. I hope that when the Orphan House is established a number of spinners and other useful hands will be procured. As the introduction of a breed of Spanish sheep into the flocks of individuals so much improved the fleeces that there is a promising appearance of a great quantity of wool being produced in a few years. Do, pray, send out some wool cards as it is impossible to get them made here.”