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British Industrial History

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Early's of Witney

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November 1933. Earlywarm.
December 1933. Early's of Witney.
December 1934.
December 1954.
November 1963.

of New Mill, Witney, Maker of Earlywarm blankets

Thomas Early (1655-1733) was first weaver in the Early family.

1669 Thomas Early began an apprenticeship with Mr. Silman, who left him the business in his will.

1711-12 Thomas Early was Master of the Witney Company of Blanket Weavers

1818 Edward Early (1775-1835) and John Early (1783-1862) with their brother-in-law, Paul Harris, started making blankets at the New Mill in Witney.

1829 Dissolution of the Partnership of John Early and Richard Early, of Witney, in the County of Oxford, Blanket-Manufacturers, under the firm of John Early, junior, and Company, when Richard Early retired.[1]

1830 John Early and Co were blanket manufacturers of Witney and New Mills; Edward Early and Sons were blanket manufacturers at West End, Witney (where Richard Witney was also residing)[2]

1838 There were 4 companies in Witney belonging to members of the Early family: John Early and Co. had 70 looms, Richard Early had 25, John 'King' Early 30 and Edward Early 35. Even at that date the Earlys were the most important manufacturers of blankets in Witney.

By 1860 Charles Early had started to install power looms at Witney Mill

1862 John Early (1783-1862) died and his son Charles Early (1824-1912) took over his share, running the blanket-making business which became Charles Early and Co in 1864; his other son, John Early junior, was also a blanket manufacturer[3]

1866 Charles acquired an interest in part of the south-west half of New Mill

1883 Bought the part of New Mill he was using from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners

1888 Charles bought the neighbouring Woodford Mill and an adjacent flour mill, transforming the Witney Mill site into the main production centre for the company.

1890s Charles Early and Co employed 400 workers.

1894 The partnership of T. and W. Early, of Witney, Blanket Manufacturers, was in the hands of the Receiver[4]

1894 Charles acquired the rest of New Mill from Walter and Thomas Early and Co. About the same time, he also took over Edward Early and Son's business in West End, Witney, which was run as a subsidiary company, as well as Henry Early's mill at The Captains, also in West End.

1910 In June, the company became a private limited company.

1921 Company absorbed Edward Early and Co.

WW2 Business was making 700,000 blankets a year.

1951 Company became a public limited company.

1960 Company merged with James Marriott and Sons, another blanket-maker, to form a new company Charles Early and Marriott (Witney).

1963 Courtaulds Ltd acquired a large shareholding in the business, which brought new ideas and technology to the industry, especially the use of artificial fibres.

1981 The company changed its name to Early's of Witney.

1980s Company went into receivership.

1991 A management buyout, with substantial help from external investors, kept the company running

1992 Petition by creditors to wind up the company was to be heard in Oxford[5]

2001 Delta Steel bought the shares of the investment companies and in turn sold the land that Witney Mill stood upon to one of its holding companies, Aster Holdings.

2002 Despite assurances that all money earned from the property sale would be used to relocate the factory in the area, Early's was closed on the 19th of July 2002. The Early's name and weaving machinery was acquired by Quiltex and moved to Derbyshire. The Witney factory closed, the company went into liquidation.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] Witney Blanket Story
  • Trademarked. A History of Well-Known Brands - from Aertex to Wright's Coal Tar by David Newton. Pub: Sutton Publishing 2008 ISBN 978-0-7509-4590-5
  1. London Gazette 6 November 1829
  2. 1830 Pigot's Directory
  3. National probate calendar
  4. London Gazette 19 Jun 1894
  5. The London Gazette 17 January 1992