Did you know that 2019 marks 200 years since the landmark Factories Act of 1819? Otherwise known as the Cotton Mills Act, the act was passed to regulate work practices in textile factories.
It stated that no children under 9 could be employed in the factories, and that children aged 9 to 16 were to be employed no more than 12 hours a day. Before that the mills could employ whoever they wanted, of whatever age, and get them to work very long hours.
Seems crazy now when you think about it?
Oh how UK textile mills have changed these days!
It was certainly the early innovation in these UK factories which kick started the international prominence of the UK fashion and textile industry and established ‘British made’ as a hallmark of quality in home and international markets.
The industry has weathered many storms since then, not least the offshoring of mass manufacturing and the subsequent closure of many UK factories.
Today, there is still incredible craftsmanship and products coming out of the UK, and the industry is experiencing unprecedented demand. Far from being a dying industry, like many people may still think, it is thriving.
With 200 years of heritage and experience behind them today the UK textile mills are very different to the ones that were operating at the beginning of the 19th century. They run on the latest technology and are able to produce everything much faster and with a lot less staff. The minimum order quantities are lower too.
Most of the mill owners I speak to at the moment are super busy, struggling to keep up with demand.
The same goes for the garment and knitwear manufacturers, who also have overflowing order books. If it weren’t for the lack of availability of skilled staff, the industry would be growing even faster.
Exciting times lie ahead for the UK textile industry, and in this episode I make an announcement about what the future might hold for Make it British too!
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