Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 133,419 pages of information and 211,648 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Fox Brothers and Co

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August 1898.
December 1898.
January 1899.
July 1900.
November 1909.
February 1915.
March 1919.
July 1919.
August 1923
August 1923.
August 1938.
Tonedale Mill, derelict, in June 2011

of Tonedale Mill, Wellington, Somerset. Telephone: Wellington 22. Cables: "Fox, Wellington, Somerset"

of Coldharbour Mill

Established 1772 - Woollen and Worsted Cloth Manufacturers

The early woollen industry was developed in areas were sheep where farmed.

1745 Edward Fox married into the Were family.

His Thomas Fox, took over the family weaving business and it is claimed that he employed up to 450 people, these people worked initially as part of a cottage industry in and around the area.

1799 Thomas Fox built Coldharbour Mill, at Uffculme in Devon. The mill was fed by a leat from the River Culm and manufactured fine worsted fabric until its closure in 1981.

1800s. The early 19th century brought together the wool sorting, spinning, dying, and weaving processes under one roof. Total production was housed on the one site, and ancillary crafts also took place there. This included basket weaving to produce the baskets used for holding wool and yarns, book binding to produce the documents, record and accounts books, metal forges and workshops to produce and maintain the machinery, and joineries for the wooden requirements of the site.

1896 The company was registered on 1 October, to take over the business of woolen manufacturers and spinners of the firm of the same name. [1]

The Fox family even printed their own banknotes from 1787 until 1921. At times the whole site employed over 4,500 people.

Fox Brothers exported their woollen fabrics around the world shipping from the River Exe port of Topsham, south of Exeter, in Devon.

1899 Large woollen mills at Wellington, Somerset, and of branch mills at Uffculme and Culmstock and a wool warehouse in Taunton. Mentions S. H. Sparkes.[2]

1900 The serge drape mixture was developed by Fox Brothers, which was then approved by the Prince of Wales and is now known worldwide as khaki. This was used to make the puttee**. The spiral leg puttees were used by the military as a part of the regular soldiers uniform, but they were also widely used for sporting pursuits such as hunting, shooting, fishing and cycling. Other fashion accessories were also produced at the Tonedale Mills such as scarfs and garters.

1929 Listed Exhibitor. Manufacturers of the "Fox" Wellington Gaiters for Ladies, Fox "Jaska" Overknee Gaiters for Ladies, Fos "Wellington" Spats for Gentlemen and "F.I.P." Spiral Puttees. (Stand No. S.81) [3]

1981 Coldharbour Mill closed and was turned into a working wool museum the following year.


  • Puttee or puttie - a cloth strip wound round the leg from ankle to knee, as a legging. (From the Hindi - patti) [4]
  • The company is still in Wellington, Somerset and has its own website - see [1] below

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  2. The Autocar 1899/01/28
  3. 1929 British Industries Fair Page 61
  4. Chambers English Dictionary
  • [1] Fox Website
  • [2] Everything Exmoor