Jonah Samyn

“Ghent textile machines are the oldest in the world”

Textile equipment at the Museum of Industry in Ghent has officially been identified as the oldest machines of their type in the world.  One machine is a Mule Jenny, an English spinning machine, while the other is a twine mill or yarn twisting machine (photo above).  Both exhibits are over two hundred years old and have formed part of the Ghent collection for over a century.

Three years of research revealed that the two Ghent machines are the oldest of their kind still in existence. The Mule Jenny (photo below) is an English spinning mill that was constructed around 1810.  The twine mill dates from the 18th century.  It was used to twist yarn in order to make it stronger.

“It’s unclear how the equipment ended up in Ghent” says Ghent alderman for culture Sami Sougir. “The twine mill is a gift from the Ministry of Justice.  It was probably smuggled to Belgium”.

The research establishing these are the world’s oldest machines of their type was conducted by the Royal Institute for Culture Heritage that also carried out the restoration of the Ghent altarpiece.  Researchers examined wood from both machines. Analysis of the wood enabled dating of the machines.

Both machines are currently displayed at the Ghent Museum of Industry.

Stad Gent

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