The flax dresser used a hackle to separate the coarse bit of flax in preparation for the spinner.

In the early 1800s records show that there several flax fields in Herefordshire but there is not much information on linen weaving.  It must have been going on though, because in the 16th century the treatment of flax in water at Leominster was banned, and a little later people were fined if they washed flax in many of the Herefordshire rivers due to the contamination it caused to water supplies.


In common with many occupations involving crop dust, flax dressers were prone to developing “Flax Dresser’s Disease” which was essentially chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The flax hackle was/is essentially a handled board with metal tines, rather like an extremely coarse hairbrush, which separates the flax fibres until they are fine enough to be spun into cloth.