Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

William Sugden and Sons

From Graces Guide

of Water Lane Mills, Cleckheaton, Yorks. Telephone: Cleckheaton 315-316-317. Cables: "Garments"

  • 1869 William Sugden and Sons Ltd was founded when William Sugden married and set up as a tailor in Railway Street, Cleckheaton in the West Riding of Yorkshire.
  • His four sons and his daughter joined him in the business, which grew to become a sizeable draper's shop.
  • In 1896, the two eldest sons started making shirts, with one sewing machine, in the back of the shop.
  • In 1899, the shirt business moved to a factory at Water Lane Mills in Cleckheaton.
  • 1904 They opened a further factory in Barnsley.
  • In 1911, they opened a factory in Wakefield to manufacture workwear and army clothing.
  • In 1912, a new factory was built in Barnsley.
  • WWI. During the first world war they produced many hundreds of thousands of shirts for the armed forces.
  • 1924 They moved to larger premises in Wakefield. By this time the range of products included shirts, pyjamas and all types of working clothing - all sold under the Water Lane Brand. Their customers were independent retailers and even pawnbrokers.
  • During the 1920s, William Sugdens acquired two weaving mills in Lancashire and were proud that all the garments they sold, were woven and made in their own factories.
  • WWII. During the second world war the company made over five million shirts and work suits for the armed forces.
  • 1947 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of "Water Lane" Brand Men's Tunic, Athletic and Working Shirts, of all Types. Boys' Cotton and Union Flannel Shirts. Men's and Boys' Pyjamas, Industrial Overalls and Aprons of all Types. (Earls Court, Ground Floor, Stand No. 364) [1]
  • During the 1950s, the Sugden family decided that as a result of the wave of western films which were being seen by the British public, jeans would become a very popular item and they set up their factory in Wath upon Dearne, in South Yorkshire, to manufacture them.
  • In 1965, the production was transferred to a new and bigger factory nearby, purpose built for the company.
  • The 1960s brought the first wave of significant imports from cheap-labour countries and by the mid 1960s, William Sugdens had closed their weaving mills and were importing fabric.
  • In 1968 they decided that they needed an association with another large company in order to ensure continued prosperity, at a time of considerable price pressure from imports. In that year, the Sugden family sold its shareholding to another local firm, Double Two, owned and run by the Donner family in Wakefield. The merger proved a good one for both companies. It gave Double Two more badly needed shirt production and new products to develop. It gave William Sugdens access to the powerfully advertised brand that Double Two had built up, which enabled them to get better prices and to compete with the imports.
  • During the 1970s and 1980s, Sugdens developed an enviable reputation for supplying quality uniform shirts and workwear. Their Topflight brand of workwear is widely sold to laundries and distributors, as well as industrial companies and they are the leading supplier of uniform shirts, under the Double Two brand, to UK Police Forces and Fire Services. More recently Sugdens has started to supply the National Health Trusts, the M.O.D and the Post Office.
  • In 1990, David Sugden and Richard Donner were looking for new ways in which to market their products. Richard had read an article in the Harvard Business Review, about how some American companies were increasing their sales to hospitals by offering a wide range from stock, including many products, which were not manufactured by them. From this idea, Richard and David developed their concept of a Managed Service for clothing and they set up a new company, ThreadNeedle Corporate Clothing Ltd., which subsequently became ThreadNeedle Company Image Ltd., after the purchase of a local company - Company Image Ltd.
  • Sugdens and ThreadNeedle now design and source products as diverse as shoes and hats, shirts and skirts, tailored jackets and knitwear, workwear and protective clothing. Manufacture takes place in the Far East, the Indian Subcontinent, the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe. But a core production remains in Yorkshire, where Sugden's rapid response factories can fill in stock gaps created by exceptional demands, can make special measures within a short lead-time, and can develop new products. This enables the company's customers to receive the ideal combination of price, quality, service and design.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] Sugdens Website