Webb's Horsehair Carpet Factory

  • 23 Mar 2021
  • Trade and Industry
  • Back

There was in Copenhagen Street until 1935 the last of the City Carpet Mills, all that remained of a trade which, in George lll's reign had a royal inspection and was considered likely to be the most important in the City's future.

In 1835, Edward Webb, then aged 27, bought a horse-hair weaving factory at 8 Copenhagen Street. The plant had 14 seating looms and 2 looms for cider cloth, several wines for curling hair, machines for hot pressing and carding hair; and a four storey weaving and dyeing building - with a dwelling house built in 1733.

By 1843, 29 Jacquard looms were weaving figured hair settings fancy crinolines and carpets. By 1846, there were 70 weavers on the roll and a further weaving shed was installed. In the 1850's one of their special lines were the horse-hair carpet foot rugs for the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway Company, and for almost every other railway in Britain.

Steam power was introduced into the mill in 1854, a 6 h.p engine with a boiler 9 ft. long  was installed, but the first carding machines to be powered broke up and were wrecked. After the initial disaster, the firm made progress, and a factory in Kidderminster was opened in 1856, which by 1860, was employing 40 weavers, while the Worcester mill employed 100, with a large number of children. Until 1914 women workers went to work at 6 a.m and at 8 a.m they came trooping out for breakfast in their clogs and shawls - as in Lancashire. The firm supplied carpets for 10 Downing Street for Mr. Gladstone's occupation in 892, and 600 yards of 'grey Worcester' for a processional way at the wedding of the Duke of York (afterwards Gorge V) IN 1893. In 1935, the dismal old factory was required for a new Police and Fire Station, and the firm moved to a new ground level mill in Sherriff Street.