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Below is a collection of useful sources that our co-founders have gathered. We will continue to add to this list, so if you find anything missing from here, we’d love you to let us know through the ‘Contact Us’ page. It is our aim that, over time, together we’ll build the most comprehensive website dealing with textile trade.

Up first is a website written by an ex-competitor and now a wonderful friend and collaborator, Charles Day. His business was the last traditional textile recycling business to close (in 2000) and probably the oldest (1844). Charles is so knowledgeable about the textile recycling trade.

Christine Widdall’s fabulous website documents textile recycling in the ‘Heavy Woollen’ district, but also her own connection as a direct descendant of George Archer. George was an engineer from Ossett that developed Benjamin Law’s rag tearing machine. The machine was called a ‘devil’ because of its power and danger in a world with little Health and Safety regulations. Later, George travelled to the USA, where he continued to develop these machines and recycled fibre production, particularly along the US East Coast. Perhaps some people from the USA are unaware of this connection to the UK and their heritage. Also, see Christine’s ‘Links’ page for further information.

In the meantime, if you want to know more about how wool recycling in the ‘Heavy Woollen’ district of West Yorkshire spread to the USA, check out Maggie Blanck’s website (above). Maggie is also a descendant of the recycled wool pioneers in Yorkshire and must have spent countless hours building the detail and importing images to this website. Maggie’s website also provides some helpful and interesting links.

Vivien Tomlinson’s website is another example of meticulous historical and family tree detail from a descendant of the textile recycling pioneers in Yorkshire. There are loads of links and contacts here (see above).


Shoddy and Mungo Manufacturers & SA

If it’s images of textile recycling in Yorkshire, England that you’re after, then a search like this (above) brings-up many, most with links to further information and images.

Searches on Wikipedia can bring up extra information.


Underground Histories

This site is a fascinating record of the many woollen mills in and around Huddersfield (‘Heavy Woollen’ district of West Yorkshire, England). Many of the buildings remain, but sadly the wonderful machinery and skills are almost all gone. Manufacturers of recycled wool (shoddy & mungo) visited (usually on specific days) often sitting for a long time in waiting rooms to see the buyer of raw materials. Conversations are examplified (so typical of the accent/dialect/tone of ‘Heavy Woollen’ district) between seller and buyer that went something like:

Seller: Morning.

Buyer: Morning.

Seller: Owt?

Buyer: Nowt.

Seller: Morning.

Buyer: Morning.

‘owt’ (in Yorkshire) means ‘anything’ so the seller was asking if the buyer needed anything. ‘Nowt’ (in Yorkshire) means ‘nothing’, so the buyer did not have any requirements – although the seller suspected they often did, they just had their ‘favourite’ suppliers.

The website above contains useful historical information, albeit from the perspective of a dirty Northern England during the industrial revolution.

I came across the website above whilst surfing the Internet and found that the Red or Dead founders (Hemingways) had been influenced by the textile recycling trade in Yorkshire.

The link above has some great images and detail of a textile recycling mill in Springfield, Vermont, USA. In the 1970s and 80s, we sold many hundreds of tons to woolen mills in the USA, so I’m not sure why domestic facilities didn’t supply them. The trade is thwart with boom and bust, whereby business would over-invest in boom (usually war) times and not deal with the (usually post-war) decline in trade.



Back to Wikipedia, the link above shows some very early connections to textile recycling in the USA – some of this was dealing with low-grade material that gets used for mattress and furniture fillings.

Recycled fibre cloths based in New York, NY, USA – according to the link above.

The link above is a PhD thesis based on textile recycling in Yorkshire. We don’t agree with everything here, but it is an amazing achievement that contributes to the UK textile recycling evidence base.

Generally speaking, art is an under-represented feature of the textile recycling industry in Yorkshire, which is something of a paradox as the craft of textile recycling is so artful. This is something iinouiio is trying to change with our aspiration to fund and create some community theatre events.

However, two fictional novels are an exception to this:

Value for Money by Derrick Boothroyd, published in 1953 by J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd: London

Shoddy Kingdon by Derrick Boothroyd, published in 1955 by J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd: London


The late Derek Boothroyd (whose dad was a rag merchant in Batley), editor of the Batley News and the Wool Record (an industrial journal that featured my dad’s textile recycling mill (Colin Parkinson Ltd) and later ‘Evergreen’ wrote about secrets and intrigue within families of textile recycling businesses in his fictionalised novels Shoddy Kingdom (1955) and Value for Money (1953). In 1955 Value for Money was made into a film with Diana Dors playing a lead role alongside other such as John Gregson, Susan Stephans, Derek Farr, Frank Peppingell, Leslie Phillps and Jill Adams. Much of the film was shot on location in Batley, but Dors never came to the town and her parts on location were played by a stand-in, Norah Miller.
Both of Boothroyd’s novels capture the secrets, competition, underhand tactics, brash personalities, ‘uneducated’ men making plenty of brass (money) and yet being expert at ‘crying the poor tale’ (pretending to be poor).

Derek Boothroyd was the boss of the Batley historian (Malcolm Haigh) who was deputy editor of the Batley News. In Malcolm’s best-known book, The History of Batley:1800-1974, I am included in the list of subscribers (along with my family). I remember Malcolm’s visit to our mill in 1977 – how wonderful.

There are other entertaining biographical works of living in the Heavy Woollen district around the towns of Dewsbury and Batley such as:

Up the Snicket by Fred Butler, published in 2000 by FAB Publications: Mirfield, Yorkshire
Down the Ginnel by Fred Butler, published in 2002 by FAB Publications: Mirfield, Yorkshire
Over Yonder by Fred Butler, published in 2006 by FAB Publications: Mirfield, Yorkshire
Nowt so Queer as Folk by Derrick Boothroyd, published in 1976 by Watmoughs Ltd: Bradford, Yorkshire

The publications that follow feature the heavy woollen district and the impact of textiles within that area.

Recollections of Dewsbury Its Markets, Shops and Shopkeepers With Some Account of its Mills, Manufacturers and Tradesmen by James Willans, first published in 1881, since 2015 available from Bleak House FHRC.

Batley, Past and Present Its rise and progress Since the Introduction of Shoddy, by James Willans, first published in 1881, since 2014 available from Bleak House FHRC.

Dewsbury Through Time by John Ketton and Stuart Hartley, published in 2013 by Amberley: Stroud, Gloucestershire

The Way We Were: Wakefield and Dewsbury by Andrew Gill (no publication date)

The History of Batley 1800-1974 by Malcolm Haigh, published in 1978 by Malcolm H Haigh

Historical Snapshots of Batley and Birstall by Malcolm Haigh, published in 1994 by Malcolm H Haigh

Batley Pride more town tales by Malcolm Haigh, published in 2005 by Malcolm H Haigh

There’s a growing body of work that is concerned with terms such as, ‘sustainable fashion’ ‘green fashion’ or ‘eco-textiles’. However, notwithstanding the importance of the issues that these terms represent, we’ve chosen not to include them as our focus is firmly on traditional textile recycling in Yorkshire, England. What follows is a list of publications that are consistent with that aim.

A History of the Rag Trade by Herman Burrows, published in 1956 by Maclaren: London

Although some people have taken issue with the treatment of how, when and where textile recycling began in the following text, it is an extremely important publication for the history (as much as technical information) of textile recycling in the Heavy Woollen district.

The History of the Shoddy-Trade Its Rise, Progress and Present Position by Samuel Jubb, published in 1860 by Houlston and Wright: London

The website above involves a page in which anthropologist Lucy Norris and Photographer Tim Mitchell examine the textile recycling business as it is today around the world. Not all of this website is dedicated to textile recycling.

This link is to an academic paper. It’s ‘academic’ in tone, but if you are interested in the history and especially if you are interested in the role Germany has played, then it could be worth a read.

India recycles many tons of clothing (mostly for use as blankets) in the region of Panipat. Although Lucy Norris has written widely on textile recycling, the link above is concerned with the meaning of second-hand clothes in Indian culture. Much of Lucy’s work could fit into the section below about research into textile recycling.