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102 – How does a textile mill thrive in 2020? David Collinge, John Spencer Textiles

David Collinge runs the the Burnley-based weaving business John Spencer Textiles.

He is the sixth generation owner of the mill which, was originally founded by his great great great grandfather 150 years ago.

I love David’s story because it is one of survival. It epitomises why some UK manufacturers have remained and flourished whilst many others fell by the wayside.

John Spencer textiles was once one of a 190 weaving mills in Burnley, Lancashire, which between them had over 100,000 looms at their peak. John Spencer owned 2442 of those – that’s a LOT of looms!

They originally wove cotton base cloths which would be used for printing fabrics for womenswear, but it was the fact that when such cotton base cloths ‘or Burnley printers’ as they were known, started to be imported from cheaper sources such as India, John Spencer Textiles looked at other ways to use their looms that were less reliant on fashion and price.

They now weave a huge variety of different fibres and fabrics which go into a diverse range of products from blankets, curtains and cushions, to baby slings, artist canvases, even parachutes and parts for nuclear submarines.

It’s this ability to adapt and move the business with the times that has enabled John Spencer Textiles to thrive into the 21st Century.

In this interview David talks about their plans for the future and how he sees UK textiles evolving in the coming years.

John Spencer Textiles

Ian Mankin

John Spencer textiles will be exhibiting at Make it British Live! on 17 & 18 March 2020

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