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British Industrial History

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William Hollins and Co

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April 1922.
June 1932.
1949. Viyella.
September 1962.

of Viyella House, Castle Boulevard, Nottingham. Telephona: Nottingham 4556, Cables: "Vyella, Nottingham". London Office at Exchange House, Old Change, EC4. (1947)

of Pleasley Works, Mansfield, Notts (1914)

Makers of Viyella, Dayella and Clydella

The name Viyella is based on the unusually-named valley road, Via Gellia, (the A5012) near Matlock, Derbyshire.

1784 William Hollins started business in Pleasley on the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border.

Later it moved about 20 miles away to Viyella House in Nottingham.

1882 Private limited company.

1890 Hollins and Co acquired a mill used for the early production of Viyella.

1893 Viyella was a blend of wool and cotton first woven in 1893. It was made of 55 per cent merino wool and 45 per cent cotton in a twill weave, developed by James and Robert Sissons of William Hollins and Company, spinners and hosiers. It was the "first branded fabric in the world".

1894 The brand name, first registered as a trademark in 1894, soon covered not only the original fabric, to be sold by the yard (piece goods), but also clothing.

At first this was made by a separate business but it was not long before Hollins started producing their own clothes and offering franchises to manufacturers who would use the Viyella label.

1907 The trademark was registered in the USA.

1908 Company re-registered.

1914 Listed as spinners and manufacturers of "Vyella" and "Aza" cloths and spinners of hosiery and other yarns. [1]

1947 British Industries Fair Advert: Viyella for Men, Women and Children everywhere. Spinners and Manufacturers of "Viyella" and "Clydella" Fabrics, Women's Underwear and Nightwear, Men's Shirts, Pyjamas and Hosiery; Nursery "Viyella" and Clydella Children's Wear. (Textiles Section - Earls Court, Ground Floor, Stand No. 238) [2]

1961 After a merger, Hollins became Viyella International, led by Joe Hyman, who in the next few years acquired a series of related companies, with Viyella growing to be one of the biggest textile businesses in the UK, owning 40 factories across the country.

1964 Viyella International acquired Bradford Dyers Association[3] ICI provided a loan and took a 20 percent interest in the company as part of a strategy to link the production and use of fibres[4]

1967 Viyella repurchased the shares held by ICI and repaid the loan; special arrangements for purchasing dyestuffs and sourcing fibres were discontinued.

1968 Acquired 2 factories from Cyril Lord

1969 ICI reversed its policy of non-involvement in textiles and announced a bid for Viyella and plan to merge it with Carrington and Dewhurst[5]

1970 ICI acquired Viyella and, later in the year, Carrington and Dewhurst, forming Carrington Viyella of which ICI owned c.80 percent[6].

After a few years as Carrington Viyella and then Vantona Viyella, in 1986 the company owning the Viyella brand became Coats Viyella.

In the 1980s built a new mill to produce Viyella cloth in Barrowford, Lancashire, but this was demolished in 1999.

Following an increasing emphasis on garment manufacture over the years, Viyella is now a fashion brand for clothes and home furnishings made of a variety of fabrics. The original wool/cotton blend is no longer on sale.

In the 21st century much of Coats manufacturing (now specialising in thread) has been moved abroad and it is no longer possible to buy Viyella fabric. Coats underwent major restructuring in 2002 and sold off its Viyella fashion retail business (and Jaeger) to entrepreneur Richard Thompson in 2003 for £1, who re-sold Viyella weeks later to venture capitalist Harris Watson. Viyella Ladieswear has since added home furnishings to its range of goods.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  2. 1947 British Industries Fair Advert 248; and p138
  3. The Times, Jun 11, 1964
  4. The Times Oct 04, 1967
  5. The Times, Dec 24, 1969
  6. The Times Aug 08, 1970