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Company History

  • Best in British!

    Made In BritainHere at Carr & Westley, we’re very proud of our heritage as a small, independent family-run British business.

    The company was established way back in 1919 in Holborn, London and we moved out to the countryside in the early 1940s to escape the Blitz during World War 2. Our home now is Bourne Mill - an 11th century watermill in the Kentish countryside and where our team of seamstresses custom make Carr & Wesley branded clothing. All Carr & Westley garments are designed with our customer in mind - high-quality, easy-fitting and hardwearing, but without compromising on style and feel.

    Take a look at our collection of original skirts, trousers and dresses, all designed and made in Britain -


  • Old Catalogues In The Post

    Last week we were delighted to receive a letter from a lovely customer who mailed us an old, pre-WW2, Carr & Westley catalogue she had found at home.

    Pre-WW2 Carr & Westley Catalogue

    While we can't be sure of the exact year the catalogue is from, the address is for East London, which is where the company lived before the second world war. We moved out into the countryside in the early 1940s to escape the blitz.

    We do like receiving these things as it always keeps us in touch with our heritage.

    So thank you, Mrs E Treadgold, from Salisbury.

  • Back in the Habit

    In 1971 Carr & Westley used to manufacture nuns habits at our current site in Kent, England.

    Things have changed a lot since then, but we are still using some of the same skills on our Carr and Westley branded products. We are proud of our history of craftsmanship. Attached is a page from one of our old catalogues displaying three items. This was also the year the UK went decimal, with prices listed in both sterling and decimal.

    Nuns Habits


    All dresses are well made in good quality black crimpelene. There is a long back zip and a pocket in the right hand side seam.  Belts are supplied with all dresses if required, and dresses and skirts will be made to any length ordered.

    The skirt has three panels back and front and is fitted with a waist band and side zip.

    Any garment can be supplied separately, lined or unlined as needed.

    In order that we may choose the most suitable size, please give bust, waist and hip measurements, full back length for dresses, full length including waist band for skirts, and underarm sleeve length.

    We are prepared to modify any style to your requirements if a quantity of dresses is required.  Please do not hesitate to ask us if you have any problems you think we can solve.

    Prices :                  Hips 36/42           £7.10.00s             £7.50

                                 Hips 44/50           £8.0.00s                £8.00

                                 Fully lined £1.10s extra (£1.50)


  • Post-War Advert

    Carr & Westley was moved from Central London due to the Blitz. We knew that the company had moved down to the West Country, but were not sure of the precise location. Recently however, while refurbishing our factory, this order form came to light. As you can see on the bottom, St. Ives, Cornwall is shown as the address.

    Post-War AdvertLovely and Useful

    This all-wool dress we can recommend the more heartily as we think it corresponds with all the requirements of the times; bearing in mind that need for economy of material combined with seeming ampleness in appearance, our designers have produced just the right dress for those who admit the need for austerity as well as utility.

    The soft all-wool material, bought direct from the manufacturer before big rises in prices, has a richness of colour and readiness to drape gracefully the no other fabric can possess.

    The price is so low because we are the manufactures dealing direct with you.

    It’s easy to tell test the truth of our remarks by sending for a dress today while you have the opportunity. You risk nothing, for we assure you that we will refund money and coupons if you are not satisfied?

    Colours Navy, Wine, Green, Brown & Black

    11 Coupons Required.

    Carr and Westley - St. Ives, Cornwall


    To CARR & WESTLEY, Ltd.,

    St. Ives, CORNWALL.

    Please send me Dress No. 750 as illustrated overleaf, for which I enclose £…………. and 11 coupons.

    It is understood that I may return the garment within seven days and you will refund my money and Coupons in full.



                    Bust………. Length………. Colour………

    This loose leaf forms part of our Autumn/Winter Catalogue and its cost is covered by the charge made for it.

  • Are We Better Mannered Than We Think?

    British Isles

    Good manners are very important to Carr & Westley and we are proud of our customer service standards. With this in mind, we are pleased to inform you a new report has found that British people are polite. Now this may not seem like a striking revelation to those acquainted with the cultural stereotype of the Courteous Brit.

    However the report also found that, rather worringly, British people believe themselves to be increasingly unpleasant.

    The periscope post collected some thoughts on the news:

     Hurrah! An Observer editorial shared our views: “We are, in the main, tolerant, considerate, caring. We are not so rude Britannia.” The editorial also praised the Young Foundation for bringing the question of manners into the spotlight: “Good manners are not old-fashioned. The Young Foundation has done well to remind us just how much they matter.”

    Diverse politeness. The report’s researchers travelled to both wealthy and deprived areas in order to observe the prevalence of good manners. According to the report, “Assumptions linking incivility to disadvantage or diversity are simplistic; we found very high levels of civility in some disadvantaged, diverse places, as well as instances of serious incivility, in the form of intolerance and rudeness, in more prosperous and homogenous contexts.”

    Dangerous pessimism. Writing for the BBC, Mark Easton argued that the entrenched that British people are getting ruder can become a self-fulfilling prophecy: “If people assume that the world is a rude, individualistic and selfish place, they are more likely to act that way themselves.”

    Rude? Meanwhile, Dominique Jackson at The Daily Mail seemed unconcerned with politeness while considering the report: “The prose is poor and its final startling insights, blindingly self-evident. Who commissioned this research and how much did it cost?”

    Listen: ‘Britain is not a rude nation’ on the BBC radio 4 today show.

    I personally think the best way to influence the manners of the nation is one conversation at a time!

  • The History Of Mail Order

    History of mail orderDespite our use of modern day delivery and order channels (like this website), Carr & Westley is, and always has been, a mail order business.

    Origins In The New World

    The first recorded mail order catalogue was invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1744. Franklin realised it as a method of spreading word about scientific ideas in his journals and papers. The commercial benefits of such distribution were obvious and in 1848, Alfred Hammacher established the first significant mail order business selling mechanic’s tools and builder’s hardware.

    Inspired, Aaron Montgomery Ward followed Hammacher’s lead to become the first real pioneer of mail order. Based in Chicago, his single sheet of products in 1872 increased to over 20,000 items within 20 years with his business model built on cutting out the middle man (general stores) – and keeping a bigger share of the profits.

    By then other companies had seen the value in mail order. Perhaps the most famous of those was US department store – Sears. Still a major player today, in its heyday Sears dominated the mail order market. Formed in 1893 by Richard Sears and Alvah C Roebuck, the first Sears catalogue sold everything from sporting goods to sewing machines, dolls and refrigerators. It wasn’t long before the catalogue had grown 322 pages thick.

    By 1897, sales exceeded $750,000 and Sears little publication was now being referred to as the ‘Consumer Bible’. In 1908 they even started selling kit houses through their catalogue. It is estimated that between 1908 and 1940 they sold 75,0000 of them, many of which are still around today.

    British Adaptations

    One of the very first mail order businesses setup in the United Kingdom was Littlewoods. Still a household name, Littlewoods was established by Sir John Moores in 1932, with the first catalogue consisting of 168 pages. Between 1932 and 1952 Littlewoods opened 25 retail stores thanks largely to its hugely successful catalogue. Moores was inspired to start a mail order business after a research trip to America. Studying the operations of Sears, he brought their ideas back to the UK with him and by 1936 his decision was vindicated with sales topping £4 million.

    Other UK mail order catalogues quickly followed including Kays, Grattan, Avon and C&A. The popularity of mail order grew as consumers enjoyed leafing through glossy pages at their leisure and the appreciated the convenience of being able to pay weekly. It enabled many to plan well ahead for Christmas and children had great fun choosing toys.

    Modern Day

    Today, thanks to the Internet, the traditional mail order business landscape has changed somewhat. Online shopping may be referred to as ecommerce, but the basic principles are still similar to that of traditional catalogue ordering. Shoppers look at a variety of products, compare prices and arrange a delivery method to suit them – only via a computer rather than a catalogue order form. Many companies have moved away from the glossy brochures and now focus solely on their company website to showcase and distribute products.

    As far as Carr & Westley are concerned, for the short to medium term at least, there is still a strong need to produce seasonal catalogues. Even though internet sales are increasing, the bulk of our business still comes through catalogue sales and we find it a very useful medium for communicating brand values and creating a tangible connection with our customers. It will be a sad day when the last C&W catalogue hits doorsteps, but we’ve been making them for almost 100 years and don’t see any sign of stopping soon.

  • Community - Tunbridge Wells Life

    Tunbridge Wells LifeAt Carr & Westley we value the importance of community and also like to embrace any technology that brings people together. If you have everbeen in our area, you may recognise the streets of Tunbridge Wells from our catalogue photography provided by David Bartholomew. David has been shooting our clothing collection for a number of years and he has just set up a brand new website that aims to improve community spirit and communication within this vibrant South East town.

    If you live in, grew up in or ever visited Tunbridge Wells we recommend you take a look at Tunbridge Wells Life.  David has put together a fantastic resource of everything Tunbridge Wells.  In the Galleries section you'll find a visual library of some of the Towns most important sights. In the News section you can see what's going on in the town on a weekly basis - find a tour to discover the real town, or check out what events are happening in the near future.

    The website celebrates all that the Town has to offer in a structured, easy-to-use way. In the Directory section you'll find a list of 'go-to' bars and pubs, communal societies, popular businesses and places of worship. It's also a great resource if you have mobility issues and would like to know what dedicated access areas are available around the town.

    Researched and maintained by a friendly, enthusiastic team who are passionate about what they do, Tunbridge Wells Life offers you the most complete resource on what Tunbridge Wells has to offer.

    We'd like to congratulate David on his website and look forward to seeing it evolve with every week.

  • Hopping Down In Kent

    “If you go down hopping, Hopping down in Kent,
    You’ll see old mother Riley A- putting up her tent.
    With an ee-aye-o, ee-aye-o, ee-aye-ee-aye-o”

    Hops, the ingredient that adds bitterness to beer, have been grown in Kent since the 16th century. Carr and Westley are based in a old water mill in Hadlow, a village in the middle of the Kentish countryside. We are right in the middle of hop growing country where during the Victorian times many people would come down from London, Sussex and East Anglia to earn money harvesting the summer crop.

    Back then, hop picking was one of the biggest industries in the county. After a summer of growth, by September the plants were ready for picking and casual workers from the surrounding areas would work away in the hop gardens for six weeks. Once the hops were picked, they were dried out in oast houses and sold to the breweries.

    Farmers would write to workers (usually women and children who didn’t have permanent jobs) in Kent, London, Sussex and East Anglia and invite them down to Kent, stay in huts on the farm and work in the hop gardens. For many Victorian Londoners, living in a dirty, polluted city, this was not seen as work but as a holiday in the country. The same families would come ‘hopping down in Kent’ year after year.

    Harvey's of Lewes to this day still brew Hadlow Bitter ABV 3.5%. This hoppy pale ale is a recent evolution from the successful bitters of the last century and makes a very nice lunchtime pint. Our village is located in the fertile Medway valley which is one of England's last hop growing districts - with historic brewing tradition.

    Not long ago, Harveys acquired a pub in Hadlow and to celebrate they brewed an ale using only local hops. It has experienced fantastic demand ever since.

  • Fashion Illustrations : The Days Before Photography

    Fashion IllustrationCarr & Westley has been making traditional womens and menswear since 1919.  During that time we have produced many catalogues and seen this process change substantially.  For instance, some of you may remember the way our catalogues looked before the days of product photography.  Back then we would hire fashion illustrators to do drawings of our products and these would be used to convey to the customer what the garment would look like worn.

    It seems like a long time ago now but the last fully illustrated catalogue we produced was in 1994.  That’s only 18 years ago! I recently came across a box of our old fashion illustrations and was bowled over by the level of skill that was needed to produce them.  The illustrator would capture the exact styling and detail of the products.

    We would send the illustrator a selection of product samples and they would draw up their work. Here is a selection of product drawings I found:

    Fashion Illustration Pic 1Fashion Illustration Pic 2Fashion Illustration Pic 3Fashion Illustration Pic 4

    In the mid-nineties, fashion photography and colour printing became affordable for smaller businesses like C&W. Sadly that meant an end to the use of illustrations like this but I still feel impressed and nostalgic when I see them.

    See Carr & Westley's Autumn/Winter Collection with new modern day photography...

  • Well I Never Knew That...

    Carr and Westley 1929 advert

    While planning our new 2013 Spring range I decided to do a little research on the history of Carr and Westley. Thanks to the wonders of Google I found this little gem at Graces Guide. An original Carr and Westley advert from 1929. Carr & Westley were based in High Holborn, London at the time, yet to move to the countryside to escape the blitz. The advert features both a ladies and gentleman’s waterproof coat, with compelling copy that certainly worked on me.

    Below is a transcript of the copy:

    20' AMAZING "Greatest value" offer   

    You would think it was real leather.

    Why pay several guineas for a leather coat when, thanks to modern science, you can have the fine coat illustrated for 20s.?

    These all the year round coats are ideal for driving, walking and all kinds of sport. Look and wear exactly like leather. You cannot tell the difference. Lined with a cosy camel shade fleecy lining, these coats will keep you warm and dry. Will withstand the heaviest downpour and survive any amount of hard wear. Will last for years and will retain its colour and waterproof qualities to the end.

    Thoroughly waterproof.

    Write now, enclosing 20s. for coat, while you have the advertisement in front of you, and the coat comes by return.

    Gents Model, as illustrated, STOCK SIZES, Chest: 34 ins, 36 ins, 38insm 40ins, 42 ins. Give size over waistcoat. TAN colour only. Double-breasted with belt all round.

    Ladies Model: STOCK SIZES, Lengths: 38 ins, 40 ins, 42 ins, 44 ins and 46ins, Shades: TAN, GREEN, LIDO, SAXE, WINE and RED. Collar, cuffs, pockets and belts piped contrasting colour.

    Money refunded if not satisfied

    Carr and Westley (1928) Ltd

    (Dept H) 40, High Holborn, London, W.C.1

    (A few doors west of chancery Lane Tube Station.)




    If you would like to have a look at our current range of coats click here

    To see our Menswear range click here

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