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Monthly Archives: April 2012

  • Hadlow Folly

    Hadlow FollyToday we have been out and about taking photos for our next Winter catalogue in our home village of Hadlow.

    Mentioned in the Doomsday book, Hadlow is situated in the Medway Valley, approximately 25 km south-east of London. Residing in the Kentish countryside, we are surrounded by many historical buildings, including hop ousts and a medieval church.

    Carr and Westley itself is located in a converted water mill where we have been making our products for the last 70 years - moving down from London to avoid WW2 bombing. There are many interesting buildings here but perhaps the most interesting is the Castle Tower for which Hadlow is well known.

    The Castle Tower, or May's Folly, is a really unique and unusual piece of 19th century architecture. Of Victorian Neo-Gothic design, the tower was conceived by the naval architect Ledwell Taylor and built by local landowner Walter Barton May in 1835. It is one of the tallest folly's in Britain and had no original purpose other than for decoration. However, during WW2 the building was used as a lookout point for the Home Guard.

    Following the war, the tower fell into disrepair but was saved from complete demolition in 1951 by the painter Bernard Hailstone.

    In 1987, however, the grade 1 listed tower was badly damaged in a great storm with the lantern, gables, buttresses and roof suffering heavily. After the storm it's condition worsened rapidly and as a result it was added to a list of the 100 most endangered sites in the world in 1998. Following a series of local council meetings the public set up the Save Hadlow Tower Action Group (SHTAG) in a bid to get the building repaired.

    Although the tower was originally built for ostentation not habitation, it had been partly converted for residential use in the mid-1970s. This meant it was necessary to acquire the building through Compulsory Purchase before any restoration funding could be granted and refurbishment work started. As a result of SHTAG campaigning, in 2011 the Vivat Trust agreed to commit to the restoration project in its biggest development project to date. Upon acquisition, the Trust developed a scheme to convert the tower into premium holiday accommodation in conjunction with public access (a condition of lottery funding). Other restoration donations came in from the English Heritage, the Architectural Heritage Fund, Kent County Council and the Country Houses Association.

    The £4 million restoration is now well under way and we are all looking forward to seeing the results. If you ever find yourself in the area, Hadlow Tower is well worth a visit and of course do pop over the road to see Carr & Westley :)

    You can read more about the Hadlow Tower Restoration Project here.

  • A History of Clothing Manufacturing in Britain

    Spinning JennyEarly Days

    Before the textile revolution of the mid 18th century, clothing in the United Kingdom was a cottage industry. Most garment wear in Medieval Britain was influenced by either Scandinavian invaders or the Roman Empire. The rich would wear imported silk, linen and patterned wool. The poor would wear local or homespun wool - often without colour and edged with hand embroidery or tablet woven bands.

    By the 13th century, however, the dying and working of wool had progressed and there was also more common use of linen in simple clothing. Yielded from the flax plant, this linen was laundered and bleached in the sun to provide linings and cotton, imported from Egypt, was also used for padding and quilting.

    By the mid 14th century clothing was becoming increasingly tailored with curved seams, lacing and buttons. The manufacture of wool became more sophisticated, creating a broadcloth with a velvety nap and dyed in rich colours – still within the cottage industry.

    As prosperity grew more complex clothing followed. By the 17th century 'point lace' became popular in England, reflecting floral patterns of that period.

    The Textile Revolution

    The Industrial Revolution brought about a huge change in how clothing was manufactured in the United Kingdom. The textile industry was one of the first to be mechanised. Recently built canals, railways and roads aided trade expansion and the workforce swelled as people came in from the countryside to towns and cities. Steam power, the use of coal and water wheels aided the new machinery, and a boom in production followed.

    The Introduction Of Machinery

    This increase in productivity was aided by a number of well known inventions. Richard Arkwright's Water Frame, James Hargreaves' Spinning Jenny and Samuel Crompton's Spinning Mule (a combination of the Frame and Jenny) were some of the first machine powered devices to spin cotton. Dedicated cotton mills followed with many areas of the Midlands becoming synonymous with textile production. Cities like Derby (still home to one of our suppliers Slenderella) became important in the manufacture of clothing in Britain.

    In the following years, machines similar to the Frame, Jenny and Mule spun worsted yarn and flax for linen. The Flying Shuttle, patented in 1733 by John Kay, vastly improved the process of weaving. Shuttle boxes at each side of the loom, connected by a long board (shuttle race) enabled the shuttle to be knocked back and forth at great speed, with the aid of cords attached to a picking peg.

    After a shaky start in 1785, the Power Loom (Edmund Cartwright) mechanically wove cloth onto a beam at the back of the loom. By 1850 there were 250,000 power looms in Britain, more than half were located in Lancashire.

    Meanwhile, new textiles were coming through including viscose, nylon and polyester providing the opportunity for greater versatility and choice.

    Post Industrial Revolution

    Textile production peaked in England in 1926. The outbreak of the First World War meant that cotton could no longer be exported to foreign markets and countries like Japan set up their own factories, with cheaper labour. Once the mills were decommissioned, much of the machinery was sent to India and China to aid development. Over the second half of the 20th century there was huge expansion of textile production within these countries.

    During the Second World War there was a short reprieve of textile production in Britain as factories produced uniforms and parachutes but this was short lived as once the war was over, Britain could no longer compete with cheaper overseas manufacturers.

    bourne millClothing Manufacture In Britain Today

    At present, the UK clothing industry employs around 140,000 people. Over the years, many UK manufacturers have struggled to compete and sadly fallen by the wayside. For those that have survived, many now outsource their production overseas to countries like India and China. These firms have now simply become marketing ‘fronts’ as no production actually occurs on home soil.

    However, there are a few firms that still manufacture in Britain, Carr & Westley being one of them. We have been employing the same techniques for almost 100 years. We pride ourselves on providing traditional clothing styles without compromising on quality. We hope that, in this time of austerity, more clothing companies move their operations back home because profit isn't everything. We are proud of our heritage, and proud to be British.

    To see a range of our British Made Clothing visit the Carr & Westley brand page.

  • The History & Design Of Winceyette Nightwear

    Winceyette PyjamasWinceyette is a term many are familiar with. But how many of you actually know what it means. It often pops in clothing product descriptions, so let’s enlighten you...

    Traditionally, winceyette is a cotton fabric made from a twill weave. Its design is similar to that of flannel, only it is a slightly thinner material that does not share the same heavy texture. Winceyette’s light, yet warm and breathable design, has made it a popular fabric for nightwear.

    Its brush surface has a distinctive raised texture known as napped flannelette, on one or both sides. For those familiar with weaving, the weft is closer than the warp. The napped cotton is dry finished by raising fibres on the surface to produce a ‘fuzzy’ feel and appearance. It is this ‘fuzziness’ that retains the warmth and the napped appearance that makes it instantly recognisable.

    It is not clear exactly when Winceyette nightwear first became popular although there are references to its use during the Second World War. Flannel fabric itself was first developed in Wales in the 17th Century, where weavers discovered that by adding the ‘nap’, they created an uncommonly soft fabric that kept warmth in better despite its lighter weight.

    The traditional Winceyette night garment is long sleeved, long in length and of a simple design for maximum warmth and comfort. Its style has become popular in nightwear because it has the ability to absorb and then release perspiration – helping to avoid waking up in a pool of sweat!

    The fabric design used in Winceyette nightwear is so versatile, it is no longer associated with something only older generations would wear. There are numerous colour and pattern variations to suit all tastes, including the popular, traditional tartan. Nowadays, many youngsters even wear these designs during the day! Indeed, flannel itself has enjoyed a renaissance in recent times, having been a favourite of US truck drivers and people in the music industry.

    Winceyette nightwear has always been a good product for Carr & Westley. We have been trading for 94 years and still to this day offer a selection of winceyette products. You can find a range of our winceyette nightdresses and winceyette pyjamas in our nightwear section.

    See Our Range Of Winceyette Nightwear.

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