The Clothier

A woollen factory from the air

The man who organised the whole operation of turning fleece into cloth. He had initiative, contacts and capital. The clothier bought fleece and distributed it to his weavers, collecting thewoven cloth at the same time. His initial outlay for raw materials was not rewarded until many weeks later  when he could sell the finished cloth.

Three Trowbridge clothiers

Early clothmen often owned a fulling mill and used it as a base for operations. In the early 1800s, most jobs were still done as outwork but clothiers were starting to set up weaving shops in their factories. Staverton mill had 40 looms in 1813.

By 1820, Trowbridge had 14 steam driven factories. Of the 29 firms in operation in the town two years later, only about half had factory accommodation. They still used workshops and outworkers. Clothiers could hire space in factories and tap into the power provided there.

Early clothmen in Trowbridge include James Terumber, Alexander Langford and the Yerbury family. Later notable clothiers were the Houltons, Clarks, Stancombs and Samuel Salter.

A woollen mill

Trowbridge, 16 th March 1795
Taken in execution by the Sheriff of Wilts and to be sold by auction by R Knight on Weds 25 March and the two following days, all the stock and utensils in trade of Mr J Gould Read, clothier, at Trowbridge.

Press; hot press stove; 2 carding engines; 4 sloobing machines; 8 jennies; 2 willow mills; 50 pairs of shears; sheer and dubbing boards; 3 cloth racks; 4 stayes of handles; 30 packs of teasels; wool; 60 pieces of cloth; a pipe of oil; 70 cwt. dyestuffs.