A 'rag trade' booms - in country style

Did you know that with every C&W made product you are not only supporting British manufacturing, but buying into a little bit of history. In this post I have in included an article from the Tonbridge Courier from March 31, 1967.

Bourne Mill is located in the village of Hadlow, deep in the Kentish countryside. Pre-dating the 15th century, it was originally built for processing cereals to make flour and bread. Now its used as the Carr and Westley workshop where we design and make our skirts, trousers and dresses. We've been here for over 70 years and can't imagine working anywhere else. 

In our Spring into Summer catalogue, we've blended a rinage of C&W garments with a hand-picked selection of label brands like Poppy, Brandtex and Slenderella. You'll find favourite designs mixed with new styles available in a range of colours.

Whilst browsing online, we hope you get the feel for a heritage of our company and find something perfect for bringing in the summer months...

Transcript of Article: 

The last place one would expect to find a “rag trade” factory is in a country mill where corn was ground in the 11th century.

For the last 11 years clothing of a special kind has been made at Bourne Mill, Hadlow.

The mill was built in the late 11th century and was used to grind and crush corn until just after the Second World War.  The old grinding stones can still be seen outside the mill, which straddles the River Bourne.

Twenty five girls are employed by Carr and Westley Ltd., a firm owned and run by Mr Laurie Brinklow and his wife who live at the mill.

Mr Brinklow started with the firm in 1956 as an administrator.  Within six weeks he had been asked to take over the firm, though, as he freely admits, “I knew nothing about the rag trade”.

The firm started in 1918 in East London but moved to St Ives, Cornwall when it was bombed out in the Second World War.

In 1948 Mr Harold Carr, the founder, discovered the Bourne Mill site and moved his factory to Hadlow.

The original mill machinery had to be moved out and sewing machines and cutting boards installed.  Local girls were recruited and given an intensive training.  Mr Brinklow says he has been fortunate in that most of the girls have stayed with the firm.

The dresses and clothing he supplies are for the more mature women who cannot get off-the -peg cloths even at the most expensive clothes shops.  He prides himself that his firm can provide made-to-measure garments at off-the-peg prices.

We deal with the steady end in the trade that does not fluctuate with fashions.  We concern ourselves with providing good clothes and, because of that, we have built up our business and acquired a good reputation says Mr Brinklow.  We are now able to compete favourably with many West End stores though we have no representatives or shops to attract custom.

Each year estimates Mr Brinklow, the firm produces about 10,000 garments, all hand made. ”Our customers like to stick to conventional designs, but they like to wear new materials”, he says.

Mrs Brinklow was as new to the trade as her husband when they moved to the mill but she is now responsible for most of the designs in the catalogues issued by the firm three or four times a year.

Perhaps the most surprising feature of the business is that 35 – 40% of the trade is from the south and London where competition from the dress makers is at its greatest.  Mr Brinklow even has clients in London’s Park Lane who prefer the Hadlow styles to those of the country’s leading shopping centre.

Bourne Mill has certainly gone from rags to riches