- a memorable year in at least 2 respects. It was the year in which Queen Victoria succeeded to the British throne and it was also the year in which Abraham Moon founded the company which today holds an enviable status as one of the country’s leading woollen and worsted manufacturers.
Abraham Moon, a considerable standing in the community of Guiseley, on the Northern fringes of Leeds and the Southern fringes of the Yorkshire Dales, supplied many local families with yarn to weave cloth on hand looms in their homes. When the cloth was woven he would collect the pieces, paying the weavers for their work. The cloth was then scoured (washed) locally and hung out to dry in the surrounding fields. Abraham would then transport the pieces by horse and cart to Leeds for sale in the market.
- Abraham had a three storey mill built on Netherfield Road in Guiseley, less than 300 yards from his house at the top of Oxford Avenue. The mill had an abundant source of local water which was soft and ideal for scouring and other processes necessary in woollen manufacture. The newly built railway to Leeds ran directly behind the mill which had its own sidings. This proved an invaluable form of transport both inward (wool for processing, coal for power) and outward (distribution of cloth to the expanding consumer network). The company’s records show exports, to countries including Japan, as early as the 1890’s.
- In the August of 1877 Abraham Moon lost his life in an accident. A report from the local newspaper at the time sets the scene:
“Mr Moon was attending the annual Yeadon feast in his horse-drawn carriage. When a band struck up the startled horse bolted down Henshaw Lane. Two passengers managed to jump clear and were unharmed but Mr Moon stayed in his carriage trying to calm his horse. In its panic it tried to turn into a familiar lane where there was no room for the carriage. The vehicle demolished part of a wall into which Abraham Moon was thrown. He died soon afterwards from a head injury”.
The article goes on to report that the horse survived the accident!
Abraham’s son Isaac succeeded him in the business which continued to flourish.
- The original multi-storey mill burned to the ground. Undeterred Isaac Moon built a much larger single storey mill. By this time the mill had become fully ‘vertical’ i.e. all processes – dyeing, blending, carding, spinning, weaving, and finishing taking place on one site.
Design and pattern books which date back to the early part of the Twentieth Century tell a story in themselves. Fashion fabrics from 1900 to 1913 gradually give way to army shirting, trouserings and greatcoat cloths from 1914 which in turn are replaced by the emerging fashions of the 20s. Today designers still use the old pattern books for inspiration and the creation of retro looks.
Isaac Moon took the business forward until his death in 1909. In its obituary column the local newspaper reports that Isaac was taken ill on 2nd July, shortly after watching England play – presumably against Australia – in a test match at Headingly (it doesn’t report whether this was the cause of the illness!)
- The Moon family sold their shares in the company in order to pursue other interests. The shares were purchased by Charles H Walsh who was both designer and mill manager at the time. Charles borrowed £33,000 to buy the business and it took him the rest of his lifetime to repay it.
- Charles Walsh died and the company then passed onto his son Frank who was already in the business.
- Frank’s nephew Arthur took control and remains chairman to this day. The current managing director is John Walsh, the fourth generation of the family which succeeded the Moon dynasty.
– Bronte Tweeds purchased by Abraham Moon & Sons.