Our Heritage

A Stitch in Time

We are defined by our heritage as spinners of the finest fibre yarns, and our responsibility to share our knowledge, expertise, and passion for natural, traceable products from fleece to finished garment. We are invested in the future of British manufacturing and committed to more sustainable ways of working, supporting British farmers, promoting the benefits of wool, and doing everything that we can to minimise our impact on the
environment and maximise positive connections within the communities that we work with.

We make all of our yarns under our own roof at our modern spinning factory in Baildon, West Yorkshire. This means that we can see, hear, and touch each and every process of creating the yarn that ends up your hands. 

We use the same know-how, expert team, and state of the art machinery to make the yarns that are delivered to your home, as are shipped worldwide to weavers, machine knitters and design houses that will eventually become upholstery, tailored jackets, and couture fashion.

We have been experts since 1907 when entrepreneurial business partners George Laxton and Gordon Holmes founded a worsted spinning mill in Oakworth, West Yorkshire. Together with a local Bradford weaver, they developed a new technology which dissolved away cotton fibre leaving pure mohair, creating the first lightweight mohair suiting fabric in the world.

Over the decades, weathering social and economic changes, the company had to pivot its production and look oversees to new markets. During the 1930s depression, we exported yarn to Germany for the manufacture of upholstery fabric and saw a boost in sales, before the devastating effects of the Second World War. Under the guidance of the government’s ‘Wool Control’ body based in Yorkshire, we were able to continue operations throughout the war, producing yarn for military uniforms, made possible by local women undertaking the roles that had previously been performed by a predominantly male workforce, who were enlisted to fight.

Post-war, George Laxton was the first British yarn salesman to return to Germany to visit his customers, but he found that of the 35 companies he supplied before the war, only 1 had survived destruction by air raids.

George Laxton’s tenacity and determination maintained steady growth for the company and when he passed away in 1956 another two generations of Laxtons were already working to continue the business that he had founded. By the early 1960s, 99% of production was exported oversees. Always thinking to the future, we replaced old machinery and transferred the factory to a bigger premises at Prospect Mills in Ingrow.

 Gordon Holmes retired in 1966 and a new business partner Ian Crawford took on his mantle. In the mid 1970s we began producing yarns for hand knitting for the first time, in Scotland, and a new state of the art factory was built in Silsden to expand our capabilities. This quickly grew into one of the most modern and successful spinning plants in the UK and Europe, establishing our global reputation with customers in over 80 countries worldwide.

In the late 1980s Laxtons & Crawford set up a joint venture with a cooperative of mohair farmers in South Africa, relocating the entire spinning factory from Yorkshire to Port Elizabeth.

By the 1990s James Laxton, the fourth generation to join the company in 1992, was faced with probably the most devastating decade in the history of the British textile industry. 100s of heritage spinning mills and yarn manufacturers across the UK closed their doors permanently as brands looked to the Far East for cheaper products.

But with his Great Grandfather’s entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to the industry that he had grown up in, James Laxton took the decision to re-shore the entire manufacturing operation, bringing machinery and expertise back to Britain in December 2009.

James Laxton’s innovative thinking and commitment to supporting the continuation of textiles production in Britain, has re-established Laxtons as an internationally renowned spinning mill, honouring our roots in the historic heartland of British yarn manufacturing with a new modern factory built in Baildon in 2018. Here, state of the art technology sits alongside the traditional skills that celebrate our proud heritage.

This commitment to the future of the industry extends to our environmental responsibility, which is at the forefront of every decision taken. You can follow our journey to reduce our energy consumption, reuse our waste and reflect on the circularity of our production, here.

When we launched our handknit yarn collection in 2020, our aim was to bring full circle the complete lifecycle of our yarn, putting it directly into the hands of the crafting community that we believe are the future of a more sustainable approach to clothing.

We may spin the yarn, but the creation of useful, wearable, beautiful projects is all in your hands.