Wyedean Weaving: Our Story

Wyedean Weaving was formally founded on 7 April, 1964, by David Wright. Before starting his own business, David’s first job after leaving school was an apprentice textile designer at Bridgehouse mill. Little did he know that 34 years later he would go onto purchase the very same building. At the age of 18, and at the outbreak of the Second World War, David volunteered for the Royal Navy, specifically The Fleet Air Arm. After pilot training in Canada he became a commissioned Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve fighter pilot and served with the now legendary Catapult Aircraft Merchant ships. Wyedean was established in 1964 as a manufacturer of braid and uniform accoutrement. Previously the business was known as Dalton Barton. David joined the company in 1959 and he was chosen to introduce new blood to the company, to take a hard look at the firm and to move the business away from Coventry as it was proving increasingly difficult to compete for labour with the booming motor industry. New premises were found at Coleford between the River Wye and the Forest of Dean – which eventually inspired a new name: Wyedean Weaving. By the early 1960s the market for narrow fabrics had grown considerably, yet it only served a hugely competitive and mainly domestic market; one in which a comparatively small business would be unlikely to survive for very long. Products such as carpet binding, curtain tape and safety harness webbing were in reasonable demand; however, there was also a call for military uniform narrow fabrics such as medal ribbon, rank braid, sergeant’s stripes and sashes. David realised that these products had the potential to be developed into a specialist range which could provide a small family company with a long-term future. They were unlikely to go out of fashion so long as Britain maintained a monarchy with military ceremonial requirements. So in 1964, David, by then a director of the company, struck a deal with the owners to take on the military side of the business. David immediately set about negotiating a purchase of the appropriate machinery and he was able to find suitable premises at Bridgehouse Mill, Haworth. From the early days of the business, David’s father, Frank Wright M.B.E. served as company director until his death in 1975. Frank was a textile machine designer who worked at Keighley’s Prince, Smith and Stell for over 40 years. He was awarded the M.B.E. in recognition of his inventing an entirely new yarn spinning technique called centrifugal spinning. Norma, David’s wife, has also been involved in the business for the last 50 years, serving first as Company Secretary and currently as Chairman. In fact, since 1964 there have been four generations of the Wright family working in the mill with three still actively involved. The family has fulfilled many diverse roles, from receptionist to managing director, and from loom-tuner to inspector. Robin Wright (David’s son) joined the company in 1979 and in 1990 became Managing Director. Robin oversaw the diversification of the company’s [...]