The launch of the new Textile Institute website provides a fitting opportunity to recall the achievements of the past and to look forward to the future of this important professional body which serves a major industry of worldwide significance. The years since the Institute’s inauguration have seen great changes: new fibres and manufacturing techniques, as well as movements of the principle centres of textile production, have highlighted the economic, environmental and social importance of this industry as well as the need for a strong professional body of skilled practitioners united in advancing it.
The idea of an Institute owes a great deal to two Manchester men, Mr George Moores and Mr John Henry Lester who, in 1907, had attended the Brussels Convention of the International Association for Testing Materials. They saw the increasingly important part played by scientific investigation in industrial development and were convinced that the benefits of this relatively new approach to the textile industry could be effectively attained through the cooperation of forward-looking men and women in the industry. The outcome of their efforts over a period of two years was an important meeting in Manchester on 20 July, 1909 at which it was resolved to form a Textile Institute and to establish a Provisional Committee to bring this about. The formal inauguration of the Institute took place in Manchester on 22 April, 1910, and Sir Henry Holland, Bt, MP – later Lord Rotherham – was elected President. In addition, a Council of 24 and nine Vice-Presidents representing the chemical industry, engineering, education and the various branches of the textile industry were also elected. Foundation Members of the Institute numbered 199.
In its early years, the Institute was particularly fortunate in having Presidents who were influential in both industrial and national affairs. With the leadership of such men and women and the effective work of the Council, a pattern of Institute activities emerged: the encouragement of research; discussion of topics relevant to the industry mainly through meetings of members facilitated by the establishment of Sections in different localities; the publication of a Journal; the fostering of education and training and the organisation of conferences. The first Conference (Congress) was held in Bradford in 1910. It is of interest to recall that even in 1913 the international character of the Institute was recognised, for Mr Frank Warner speaking at the Ghent Congress in 1913 said, “The Textile Institute is not of Manchester: it is not even of England: it is The Textile Institute. It exists for advancing the interest of the textile industry in every aspect, in the scientific, the technical, the artistic and the economic.”
To advance and expand the work of the Institute, a Foundation Fund was set up in 1917 and in the same year a Standardisation of Tests Committee was formed, thereby establishing one of the Institute’s very important roles. Interest in the design and structure of woven fabrics was stimulated by organising in 1920 the Crompton Memorial Competition and since then others have contributed to the scheme so that awards could be given for yarns, knitted fabrics, designs for printed fabrics, and linen fabrics.
The achievements of the Institute and the proposals for future developments led to, perhaps, the most important step in the Institute’s history, the granting of a Royal Charter in March, 1925. By the authority of the Charter, the Institute was given permission to grant suitably qualified members diplomas of competency to practice or profess textile technology.
The granting of the Royal Charter inaugurated a new era for it established the Institute as a truly professional body. Its membership grew rapidly and its reputation and integrity became widely recognised. In the short space available it is not possible to mention all that has been accomplished since the Charter was granted, but the following are, however, of special significance.
A Fellow of the Institute became entitled to us the initials “FTI” after their name and an Associate to use the initials “ATI” A Supplemental Charter granted on 24 November, 1955, enabled Fellows and Associates to describe themselves as Chartered Textile Technologists (CText). The Supplemental Charter also permitted certain members to be admitted as Licentiates and to use the initials “LTI”.
In 1956 the prestigious grade of Companionship (CompTI) was established to recognise members who have, in the opinion of the Council, substantially advanced the general interests of the textile industry. The administration and validation of all these awards has been a major concern of the Institute, for every effort is made to ensure their high standard.
Although the membership of the Institute increased year by year, the most significant growth occurred after World War II, due, no doubt, to an appreciation of the significance of a chartered body. In 1945 there were 2030 members and by 1985 the number had increased to more than 10000. Originally, almost all the members lived in the United Kingdom, but later increasing numbers came from other parts of the world as a consequence of the changing location of the main centres of textile production and the recognition of the need for well-qualified staff.
From the beginning, the membership has been organised in Sections. By 1953 there were ten sections in the UK and in that year the first overseas section was established in Calcutta, India. Other overseas members were represented by Advisory Panels, later called National Advisory Committees, in Australia, India, South Africa and the United States of America. To meet the growing interest in the Institute, new Sections were established in the United Kingdom and in other parts of the world some of which still exist today. For example, Sections in Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Switzerland.
Although the sectional organisation is appropriate for much of the Institute’s work, there developed a need for meetings of members with similar specialised professional interests and the idea of group organisation was approved by Council in 1958 to supplement the existing structure. The groups also facilitate collaboration with other professional bodies with relevant interests – a trend welcomed by the Institute.
A successful appeal to industry and members was launched in 1946 to enable far-reaching development schemes to be executed. Support from industry was further demonstrated by the encouraging response in 1950 to the Institute’s invitation to firms to become Patron Members (Corporate Members) and by 1954 their numbers exceeded 200.
With the increase in membership and the greater demands on the staff of the Institute, the inadequacy of the accommodation in the Parsonage, Manchester, which had been occupied since 1914, had to be faced. New and better premises in Blackfriars Street were acquired and brought into use in August 1951. This building was known as the ‘International Headquarters’ – a name still used today for its current location at St James’ Buildings on Oxford Street, Manchester, UK.
The Institute’s involvement in education and training for those who intend to enter the textile industry or to qualify for the Institute’s qualification has always been a major commitment. The first written examination in General Textile Technology, by which candidates might satisfy part of the requirements for the Associateship, was held in December, 1928, in centres both in the United Kingdom and overseas. The detailed requirements for the Institute qualifications have been modified from time to time to maintain the high standard of the awards and to relate the requirements for the qualifications to the current needs of the industry and the international character of the membership. As recently as 2016, the Institute rescoped the professional qualifications to represent these needs and the new scope launched in 2017 has received a tremendous response from both industry and academia.
The Institute has always worked closely with educational institutions and the policy of granting exemption from its own examinations to suitably qualified candidates was introduced early in its history. For many years, this privilege was limited to those who held degrees or similar qualifications from universities and other institutions in the United Kingdom, but as the international nature of the Institute increased, other qualifications obtained in recognised establishments in other parts of the world became accepted. Education at a different level was provided by the National Certificate and Diploma Scheme and the Ordinary National Certificate and Higher National Certificate awards were validated by representatives of the Institute and of the Board of Education. Many schemes of study were included in this project which made a major contribution to technical training in the United Kingdom.
The Institute has, from the beginning, been very much concerned with publications of books and journals. The oldest is the Journal of the Textile Institute, first issued in 1910. Each issue consisted of three parts, the Transactions section contained accounts of original work, the Proceedings section gave news of the Institute, and there was a Standardisation and Abstracts section. Increasing demands led to the publication of these sections as separate parts in 1969, and although the Transactions continue to be the responsibility of the Institute even today, the Abstracts were taken over by the Shirley Institute in 1969 and published as World Textile Abstracts. In 1970, the Proceedings were replaced by a new journal entitled “Textile Institute and Industry” and later, 1981, by “Textile Horizons” which gave news of the Institute and of the international textile industry. As a result of collaboration with the Society of Dyers and Colourists, Volume 1 of the Review of Textile Progress appeared in 1949 and this important series, covering all aspects of the science and technology of textiles, was published annually until 1971 when it was replaced by a quarterly publication “Textile Progress”, published by the Institute.
Today, The Journal of The Textile Institute (JTI) and Textile Progress (TP) is published on behalf of the Institute by Taylor and Francis. The JTI is published 12 times per year and TP is published 4 times per year.
The first text books published by the Institute appeared in 1940 and have been followed by many other volumes. In addition to conventional textbooks, the Institute has been responsible for several reference books including a major work “Textile Terms and Definitions”. The first edition was published in 1954 and since then the book has gone through 11 editions with the final edition being in digital format and contains over 4000 terms.
Today, members of the Institute are kept up to date with both industry and Institute via the in-house magazine textiles. The magazine covers all aspects of textile news and in-depth articles encompassing all areas of the supply chain, from fibre production through knit, weave and nonwovens, to fashion, architecture, footwear, medical and automotive products to highlight just a few. The magazine is published 3 times a year.
The Library, since 1982 known as the Lord Barnby Foundation Library, has always been a focal point in the Institute’s activities: for not only does it contain an extensive and useful collection of textile literature, but is also a centre for dealing with technical enquiries. Over the years the collection has grown considerably, often through gifts from members, but fitting accommodation was not available until a generous donation from the Lord Barnby Foundation made it possible to house the collection appropriately.
The Textile Institute set out to provide networking opportunities for members and industry alike through its events. TI local, national and international events aimed to stimulate new business ideas and provide opportunities to raise the profile of both individuals and organisations. In addition, they provide information on general trends throughout the industry and an enhanced knowledge of different cultures and nationalities. Textile Institute events have evolved and today through this networking and dissemination of events the Institute has a full programme of events.
The Textile Institute World Conference is the flagship event. It is held at exciting and relevant locations around the globe and is an important meeting point for the textile industry and members worldwide.
Service to the Institute is not, of course, limited to the activities at the International Headquarters, for much is done at Section and Special Interest Group level. New areas of design, management, sustainability and technology will give rise to increasing demands on resources, but the Institute has already shown that it can adapt to changing circumstances and benefit from new opportunities.