A Stitch in Time
100 years ago… Laxtons grew from a turn-of-the-century entrepreneurial mill to one of the world’s most respected yarn manufacturers.
Here’s a whistle-stop tour of how we became the business we are today.
The story begins in 1907 when George Laxton and Gordon Holmes formed a worsted spinning mill. Together with a local Bradford weaver, they developed a new technology that lead them to create the first light weight mohair suiting fabric in the world.
During the 1930’s depression, the company started to export its yarns to Germany for the manufacture of upholstery fabrics.Business began to improve but was then hit again by the Second World War.
The Fighting Forties
During World War Two, the Company found its workforce decimated as the town’s men clamored to sign up. The firm, however, continued to operate producing yarns for military uniforms under the guidance of the Wool Control government body based in Yorkshire and throughout the war women took over the work traditionally carried out by the men. After the war, George Laxton was the first UK yarn salesman to go back to Germany to visit his old customers, of which only one remained of the original 35 prior to the war, the majority having been destroyed in bombing raids. Business was slow to recover as the Germans rebuilt, but in time growth in the sector started to be seen.
Following a slow recovery after the war, the Company started to grow once again. George Laxton passed away in 1956 leaving two generations of Laxtons on board. In the early 60’s the Company exported 99% of its production. The Company started to replace its old machinery and invest in its future growth transferring all the machinery to Prospect Mills in Ingrow, whilst expanding at the same time.
Ian Crawford is welcomed to the Company, following Gordon Holmes retirement in 1966. In 1974 they began producing yarns for hand knitting in Scotland. The Company soon outgrew their home in Ingrow and built a new state of the art facility in Silsden. The new site quickly grew into one of the most modern, successful plants in the UK and Europe- selling to over 80 countries worldwide.
In the late 80’s/early 90’s they set up a joint venture with a co-operative of mohair farmers in South Africa where they relocated an entire spinning plant from Yorkshire to Port Elizabeth. James Laxton, the fourth generation, joined the company in 1992 to be faced with probably the most devastating 10 years in the history of the UK’s textile industry. Trade became very challenging with hundreds of textile spinning companies closing their doors permanently…
By re-shoring our entire manufacturing operations in December 2009, we accomplished more than just expanding our capacity through the incorporation of advanced machinery. This strategic move has empowered us to enhance our capabilities, enabling us to provide an extensive assortment of yarns tailored to numerous markets and end uses. Moreover, we seized the opportunity to introduce our B2C website, byLaxtons, as the sister brand to Laxtons. This online platform not only caters to knitting enthusiasts, but also allows us to reach a broader customer base, presenting our diverse range of yarns to a whole new audience.