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MP Mark Garnier on the Kidderminster carpet legacy and the Hugh Grant connection

The new government is in place, stability has returned to financial markets and political commentary has returned to normal. What a relief. Now we can talk about local business again.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the 10th anniversary celebrations of the Carpet Museum. It’s a truly delightful tribute to Kidderminster’s history. With over 20,000 people employed in the industry at its peak, there are probably very few natives of the district who cannot claim an ancestor or relative who did not work in carpet production. Even actor Hugh Grant can claim a family interest – his father was a manager at Gilt Edged Carpets in the 1960s and 70s.

Of course, the industry was hit hard by the Common Market of the time. Imports of cheap rugs from Belgium reduced the quality of rugs produced in the UK, but of better quality. Kidderminster has only a very small handful of active manufacturers left. Brintons, a major manufacturer of high-quality carpets – including some in the House of Commons – no longer has a presence in the town.

This makes the Carpet Museum all the more important. With carpet making now a historic legacy, the only way for descendants of carpet workers to experience how their ancestors made their living is through this unique facility. It covers everything from design, through office administration, to weaving.

The museum, like all public facilities, suffered a drop in attendance during confinement. Government aid has sustained it, as with most other businesses and charities, but since the return to normal people’s habits have subtly changed. Where people used to visit museums and other attractions regularly, they do so a little less now. This drop in numbers puts this attraction and others under somewhat greater financial pressure.

So my call is to ask everyone to support local attractions such as the Carpet Museum.

The Carpet Museum is unique – there is nothing like it anywhere else. But it’s not just the carpet museum. We have the largest (and in my opinion, the best) heritage railroad in the country. We have an amazing safari park. We are incredibly lucky, but if we don’t use them, we lose them.

My children have all taken school trips to the museum. I want to make sure that generations of children do too, long into the future.