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Flowers for Charles on mill visit

The Prince of Wales found himself the prince of posies when unusually he was presented with a bunch of flowers.

Blooms are normally given to royal women during official engagements but Charles was left holding the floral gift after visiting a unique lace mill in Scotland.

Charles toured the textile firm Morton Young and Borland (MYB) to learn about the successful company - believed to be the last in the world designing and manufacturing the delicate textile on original Nottingham looms from the early 1900s.

Since a management buyout 13 years ago the company in Newmilns near Glasgow has been transformed into a global player producing lace for leading retailers like John Lewis, international designers and markets in Russia and China.

Charles accepted two cotton blankets, one blue and the other white, for his grandson Prince George who celebrated his first birthday on Tuesday.

But when Scott Davidson, managing director of MYB, gave him the flowers, mostly roses, he quipped: "I don't know what to do with this" before handing them to an aide.

The heir to the throne was given an extensive tour of the mill that was once part of a thriving pre-war cotton lace industry in the area of Newmilns, which with its damp climate was ideal for making the textile.

But the arrival of synthetic fibres in the decades that followed and emerging markets producing cheaper products decimated the industry.

Charles was shown the full process of lace making from the first designs, to the large looms in action and finally the finished product being checked by hand and any imperfections being corrected by a team of workers.

He met staff from one of the lace firm's latest clients Hobbs, which has drawn inspiration from gates at Hampton Court Palace in its design for lace outfits for women.

Karen Boyd, head of design at fashion brand Hobbs, talked the Prince through how they took the intricate floral patterns from the ironwork and transformed them into a working pattern for the fabric.

The textile firm has become a world leader by marrying its expertise in traditional methods with new technology.

Many of its original Nottingham lace looms are networked to computers so they can use software to increase production and design capabilities.

It is famed for producing a textile called Madras muslin, popular in the late 19th century with even William Morris creating patterns for it.

Charles, who is known as the Duke of Rothesay when in Scotland, was allowed to start one of the early Nottingham lace looms and it clattered into life.

He was shown how to work it by Brian Mathieson, 57, the lace firm's longest-serving employee who joined aged 15, more than 40 years ago.

The heir to the throne also chatted briefly to Ian Hood, 59, who is the fifth generation of his family to work in the textile industry.

His great great grandfather Joseph Hood began working in mills in the 1840s - a tradition followed by the men in his family.

In quality control Charles knelt down to chat to Pauline Speirs, 68, from Newmilns, who was mending imperfections in a huge piece of textile destined to be used as a backdrop in a theatre.

She said: "He was asking me how long it takes me to do this work and how long it took to learn this job.. It took quite a few years but it's a skill you keep learning.

"He asked me if I did any embroidering at home, and I had to say no."


From Belfast Telegraph