Abraham Moon & Sons is a special business for many reasons. It is one of the last few remaining vertical woollen mills in Britain. It was founded in 1837 and is still going strong in the same location, in Guiseley, West Yorkshire.
The History of Abraham Moon & Sons
Back in 1837 Mr Moon supplied local weavers with the yarn to weave cloth on their hand looms – the original “cottage industry”. When the cloth was ready he would collect it and pay the weavers for their work. Abraham would then take the cloth to market in Leeds. At the time cloth merchants would go to one of the specially built Cloth Halls in the city centre. These buildings were at the heart of Leeds’ growth as an industrial boom-town. Now the First White Cloth Hall on Kirkgate is semi-derelict but has been earmarked for development and restoration while the Third White Cloth Hall (or bits of it at least) is near the Corn Exchange and is a branch of Pizza Express.
Part of the enduring success of Abraham Moon & Sons is down to a very wise decision by the founder to build his first three storey mill near to a good freshwater supply and to the railway line in Guiseley in 1868. It was also a short walk to his house so he could keep a close eye on his business. The water in the springs below the factory is still used in the manufacturing process at the mill today. The proximity of the railway meant that the business could expand rapidly and by the late 1890’s orders were being fulfilled from as far afield as Japan.
Despite Abraham Moon losing his life in an accident in 1877 and a catastrophic fire burning the mill down in 1902, the business continued to expand under the control of Abraham’s son Isaac. In 1920 the Moon family sold the business to Charles H Walsh, who was working at the mill as a designer and manager at the time. Four generations of the Walsh family have now run the business, John Walsh is the current MD.
The company has an amazing archive of fabrics going back one hundred years, and the archive is regularly used by its designers today for inspiration. Abraham Moon & Sons has always focused on quality rather than trying to compete with cheaper modern fabrics, and as a result their clients include Paul Smith, Burberry and Ralph Lauren.
Why Brigg & Foss are Featuring Abraham Moon
At B&F we like manufacturers that are based in the North of England, that pay people fairly for the work they do, that train their staff well, that produce something good and that generally benefit the region. Moons employs 200 people in Guiseley and invests in apprenticeships, the company pays staff the Living Wage and follows the Ethical Trade Initiative.
Abraham Moon buy most of their wool from New Zealand and South Africa, this is most likely because the UK can’t supply the quantity and quality that they need. Wool itself is bio-degradable and can be recycled easily. As a vertical mill, Abraham Moon & Sons manages the entire process of dying, carding, spinning, warping and weaving – right up to the finishing, so this gives them control over every aspect of production. Waste wool is sold to local suppliers to make insulation and recycle. Water is sourced from their own bore holes beneath the mill and the company does not use chrome in their dying process. The company only uses dye that complies with EU legislation.
The production of fabrics, particularly cotton and synthetics creates many environmental problems in developing countries. High street and online fast fashion outlets encourage people to buy more clothes, more cheaply, and dispose of them faster. Abraham Moon & Son is the antithesis of fast fashion – creating carefully crafted, long-lasting fabrics for clothing and interiors with northern soul.
https://www.moons.co.uk/apparel/sartorial-fabric-shop/ to buy fabric
https://www.brontebymoon.co.uk/ to buy clothing and furnishings