In pictures: inside the unique world of Harris Tweed

There is nothing else in the world like Harris Tweed.

A crofter on Lewis weaving Harris tweed in September 1955. (Photo by Bert Hardy/Picture Post/Getty Images)

For hundreds of years, the Western Isles has been home to every dyer, blender, carder, spinner, warper, weaver, finisher and inspector of the coveted fabric.

The sheep which supply the wool are also raised on the isles.

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This weekend, the Harris Tweed Authority will share a number of treasures from its archive to help tell the story of this remarkable fabric which is exported around the world.

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Rare photos of 1950s Western Isles return home

Items from the archive will go on show at Museum nan Eilean, Lews Castle, Stornoway, on Saturday with islanders invited to help identify those captured in photographs of former mill workers and weavers.

Victoria Woodcock, project archivist at Tasglann nan Eilean, said: “One of the things that I really love about the archive is the way it is so connected to the people who live here.

“The Harris Tweed industry has been part of people lives for a long time with people either working as a weaver or in the mills.

“One of the items we have in the collection is a notebook which dates from 1936 and lists all of the weavers in Lewis. You had weavers in almost every house in certain areas of the island. The archive is very closely to connected to the people of the Western Isles.”

As well as photographs, the archive contains advertisements, postcards and documents relating to formation of the then Harris Tweed Association in 1909.

Swatches of the fabric can also be found, including tweed by Marion Campbell, the last person to carry out the whole process by hand. She dyed the wool and she carded it, which is a process of rubbing the wool between two boards with spikes to tease it out. This would be done in the mill now.

Ms Woodcock’s role was funded by a National Cataloguing Grant from National Archives, which recognised the Harris Tweed Authority records as a regionally significant collection.

She added: “This archive is very important locally, given how central the industry is to the island, and nationally.

“As a brand, there is a huge awareness of Harris Tweed around the world, particularly as a luxury handmade item, both past and present.”

Here, we look at some of the people who have woven the Harris Tweed story over the years, and some of the gems from the archive that will go on show at Museum nan Eilean Lews Castle, Stornoway, on Saturday from 1pm - 4pm.