Fustian Knife unveiled
Friday, 20 June 2008
The one-tonne sculpture of a "fustian knife" was today unveiled today (the Summer Solstice) at midday by the Mayor of Calderdale, Cllr. Conrad Winterburn and the Mayor of Hebden Royd, Cllr. Susan Press
The knife sculpture has been the source of intense controversy on the Hebweb Forum - "When it comes down to it, a knife is a knife, and its message is - a knife. It is symbolic of cutting, stabbing - not at all of, say, unity, which was at the heart of the co-operative movement in the town." (John Billingsley)
Fustian knives were used in the manufacture of corduroy, a fabric for which Hebden Bridge was known throughout the world.
"Faustian knife" quipped one of those who think the sculpture represents the selling of the Hebden Bridge soul.
This large scale replica of a fustian knife points directly north towards Nutclough Mill, former home of Hebden Bridge Fustian Manufacturing Society Ltd, founded in 1870 - in its day, the largest worker-producer co-operative in Britain. Nearby Pecket Well mill was the last mill in Britain to manufacture corduroy fustian cloth (1858 - 1998).
The sculpture was developed jointly by the Traffic Review Steering Group, Council Officers and local sculptor / artist, Mike Williams. It is cast from bronze in a Sheffield foundry and stainless steel fabricated by a firm in Halifax.
Info at the base of the sculpture
"Fustian was originally made by weaving two sets of cotton wefts, or fillings, on a linen warp, popular during the European Middle Ages. The word has come to denote a class of heavy cotton fabrics, some of which have pile surfaces, including moleskin, velveteen, and corduroy." (Brittania online)
The sculpture is also a sundial or gnomon (shadow caster). The shadow points to the hours marked on the square. However, the time is currently one hour and 8 minutes out. One hour being the difference between Greenwich Meantime and British Summertime. Eight minutes because of the difference in longitude between Hebden Bridge and Greenwich - we're eight minutes west.
Sculptor Mike Williams
After the crowds had left
Hebweb news June 2008: Fustian Knife sculpture