The West Yorkshire town of Huddersfield is situated at the convergence of the rivers Colne and Holme. Inhabitants of these river valleys discovered that the water – which flows from the Millstone Grit Pennine hills – gave excellent results for the washing of raw wool.
And so the Huddersfield wool textile industry was born. The industry was traditionally cottage based, with spinning and weaving often taking place in the same dwelling. Many of the workers operated from smallholdings, supplementing their income with the manufacturing of wool textiles. The finished cloth they produced was then sold through merchants who regularly attended the town’s Cloth Hall.
But then came the industrial revolution of the 19th Century, bringing with it great change and unrest to these valleys as the wool textile industry became mill-based and mechanised. This led to troubled times as large-scale mill production took over and, due to the scale of industrialisation, virtually all the valleys’ inhabitants were left with little option but to take their skills into the mills. They undertook the processes of scouring, carding, spinning, weaving, dyeing and finishing as many of the mills were totally vertical and carried out all processes. Manufacture of these fine fabrics demanded a high level of expertise and Huddersfield quickly became synonymous with fine woollen and later, fine worsted cloth manufacture.
The label ‘Made in Huddersfield, England’ became a highly revered global brand, which appeared on the selvedges of many fabrics worldwide. These high quality fabrics were the choice of Kings and Princes alike.
Today – with all the results of technological achievement throughout the world influencing our lives, woollen and worsted cloth is still regarded as the ideal clothing by most people living in moderate and cool countries. The British, made in Huddersfield label is linked with the best in woollen and worsted cloth, and carries a cachet which is indisputable.