What is a Slubbing Billy?

A Slubbing Billy is a machine for putting a twist into freshly carded cotton or wool so that it can be spun. Before the process was mechanised, the unspun fibres were twisted by a skilled  worker, a Slubber, on a frame with a long wooden rod, called a billy roller. Slubbers were notoriously intemperate, and as theirs was a trade that the cloth producers could not do without, it was (like cropping, which made the ‘Luddites’ redundant) soon mechanised.

Our badge shows a pair of cropping shears and a hammer, both famous symbols of West Yorkshire’s Colne Valley where we are based. The cropping shears were used by the Croppers, skilled tradesmen, to trim the knap of newly woven cloth. They were made redundant in the early 19th century by the invention of the Cropping Frame which mechanised the process. The frames were made by Enoch Taylor of Marsden, a blacksmith who also made hammers. The ‘Luddites’ used Enoch’s hammers to smash the frames, calling ‘Enoch made them, and Enoch shall break them!’