Newton Rigg College students learn about wool

A group of agricultural students from the Cumbrian based Newton Rigg College recently visited the British Wool Marketing Board in Bradford to find out more about what happens to their sheep's wool once it leaves their farms

Stephen Spencer with some of the students and staff from Newton Rigg College
Stephen Spencer with some of the students and staff from Newton Rigg College

A group of agricultural students from the Cumbrian based Newton Rigg College recently visited the British Wool Marketing Board in Bradford to find out more about what happens to their sheep’s wool once it leaves their farms.

Tom Peile from Wigton a level 3 Agriculture student from the college said, “I found the day fascinating and it gave me a much better insight into what happens to the product once it leaves the farm”.

“Most of us simply weren’t aware of what happens to wool once it has been shorn from the sheep. Having the opportunity to learn more about the wool chain and understand more about the BWMB’s important role within the sheep sector was both interesting and valuable’’.

Students were given an introduction to the wool industry and the BWMB’s work in shearing training, grading and the auction system by BWMB Wool Marketing Manager Stephen Spencer. Examples of wool in the different stages of the process were displayed from greasy wool, scoured wool, carded wool as well as yarn, and examples of wool products were also on display. A visit to the North of England Wools grading depot in Bradford followed were students saw wool being graded, packed and tested before being allocated to sale in one of 18 electronic auctions held by the BWMB – they were also able to experience a live auction as British Wool Sale 52 took place during their visit.

In the afternoon, students visited Haworth Scouring Co. to see the next stage of the process where the wool is washed and scoured before being processed into a number of various woollen based products – from carpets, rugs, soft furnishings to cloth and insulation. David Gisbourne from Haworth Scouring said “as strong supporters of the BWMB we are very pleased to be working with BWMB and the future sheep farmers of the UK”.

Stephen Spencer, Wool Marketing Manager, BWMB welcomed the opportunity to work and engage with the next generation of farmers which was vital for the long term sustainability and future of the industry.

“It was clear from the visit; students were quite surprised at the scale the BWMB operates at. The group were also talked through the promotion and marketing activity of BWMB’s involvement in the Campaign for Wool - a worldwide movement which has been instrumental in increasing awareness of the many varied qualities of wool and wool products which is helping to stimulate increasing demand.”

Speaking on behalf of the group Jamie Brownrigg, Agricultural Assessor and Skills Trainer, said it had been invaluable in helping them understand how BWMB operates and why they were paid the prices they were for their wool.

“I don’t think any of us comprehended how complex the wool supply chain is once the wool has left the sheep’s back. We really enjoyed the presentations and visits and thank the BWMB for giving us an insight into the wool industry. When clipping time comes every summer from now on, we’ll think twice about where the fleeces will be going and the processes that they will be going through’’.

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