This research note examines the changing patterns of work in the British textile industry. It is based upon evidence collected as part of the ESRC's Social Change and Economic Life Research Initiative. The focus is upon the two interpretative frameworks that dominate contemporary analyses: the model of the 'flexible firm' and the deskilling thesis. This paper shows that neither model fits the data. British textile mills have become less flexible and technological change has produced more skilled jobs. The industry has become increasingly subject to international competition and requires greater imputs of specialized, highly trained labour.