Museum staff spoke of their delight after a special visit by The Princess Royal to East Lancs yesterday. 

Local dignitaries, including the Lord Lieutenant and the High Sheriff of Lancashire, joined by council chiefs, welcomed The Princess Royal to Helmshore Mills Textile Museum in Rossendale

Her Royal Highness toured Helmshore Mills, with museum service staff, Heather Davis, and Louise Jacobsson.

Ms Jacobsson said: “We were delighted to receive The Princess Royal at Helmshore Mills Textile Museum.

“We hope she enjoyed her tour, where she met staff, Higher Mill Museum Trustees, and members of the Helmshore Friends group. It was a brilliant opportunity to show her our historic textile machinery in operation, as well as our displays.”

On the tour, she was escorted through the two working mills; Higher Mill and Whitaker's Mill which are on Historic England's Scheduled Ancient Monument list.

READ MORE: Princess Anne receives right royal welcome to Helmshore and Trawden

Starting with a walk through the award-winning Field to Fabric Garden, before entering The Wool Story Gallery, in Higher Mill, where she was shown very early spinning wheels and looms and a Spinning Jenny, a hand-powered machine which can spin a number of strands of yarn at one time.

The procession went out onto the banks of the mill pond where the importance of water used to power the machinery and drive the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century was highlighted.

The group then descended into the Fulling and Milling Room to see the working 18ft diameter waterwheel which drove all the machinery in Higher Mill. Much work had been undertaken by the museum service team to ensure the waterwheel was in operation for this important visit.

Passing a number of other machines for washing the wool cloth and raising a pile on the cloth, the procession headed back into the Whitaker's Mill and the Revolution Gallery. Here the displays tell the story of textiles manufacture from a totally cottage-based industry to a landscape of factory production for which Lancashire was famous.

Richard Arkwright, born in Lancashire, invented the most important spinning machine which came to be called The Water Frame and The Princess Royal saw the only surviving complete Water Frame in the world.

To close out the tour, The Princess Royal was given an explanation of the cotton and recycling process in The Devil Hole, where a demonstration was given of machines which process waste cotton, and visited the Spinning Floor for an exciting demonstration of the Spinning Mule which produces 716 strands of cotton all at once.

Finally, after unveiling a plaque she was invited to sign the visitor book and was presented with a commemorative tea towel made with cotton from the mill and was given a posy of flowers to round out her visit.