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Furnishing fabric
  • Furnishing fabric
    Old Bleach Linen Company Limited
  • Enlarge image

Furnishing fabric

  • Place of origin:

    Northern Ireland (manufactured)

  • Date:

    1951 (designed and made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Old Bleach Linen Company Limited (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Jacquard-woven linen

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Old Linen Bleach Company

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The Festival of Britain held in 1951 provided new opportunities for textile design and manufacture. Two very distinct types of pattern emerged at this event: one was inspired by scientific, crystal-structure diagrams drawn to record arrangements of atoms in matter; the other based on abstract forms and organic shape, the so-called 'Contemporary' style. The design for this furnishing fabric, made in limited production by the Old Bleach Linen Company of Randalstown, Northern Ireland, derived from the crystal structure for Orthoclase 8.29. It was submitted by the crystallographer W.H. Taylor. The fabric was shown at the British Industries Fair.

The Festival Pattern Group was the brainchild of Mark Harland Thomas of the Council of Industrial Design. He built on the idea first put forward in 1946 by crystallographer Dr Helen Megaw that the patterns made available by X-ray crystallography were particularly appropriate for textile design because of their repetitive symmetry and natural beauty. In 1949 he brought together the group of manufacturers who produced textiles, china, carpets, linoleum and wallpaper decorated with these patterns for the Festival. The project combined science and design and was perfect for the theme of the festival, which was to be a platform for British achievement in science, technology and the arts.

Physical description

Jacquard-woven linen with small repeating pattern or crystal structure, based on Orthoclase 8.29, crystallographer W.H. Taylor

Place of Origin

Northern Ireland (manufactured)


1951 (designed and made)


Old Bleach Linen Company Limited (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Jacquard-woven linen


Width: 2.1 ft, Length: 2.5 ft

Descriptive line

Furnishing fabric, Jacquard-woven linen, manufactured by the Old Bleach Linen Company, Northern Ireland, 1951

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Jackson, Lesley. From Atoms to Patterns. Crystal structure designs from the 1951 Festival of Britain, London:Richard Dennis with Wellcome Institute, 2008, p. 76

Production Note

The Old Bleach Linen Company was based in Randalstown, Northern Ireland from its establishment in 1864 till its closure in 1980. This design made specifically for the Festival Pattern Group for the Festival of Britain in 1951.

Attribution note: Limited production in 1951, shown at British Industries Fair




Jacquard weaving




Textiles and Fashion Collection

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