1961 Textile Trade – ORIGINAL BRITAIN COTTON SAMPLE BOX – Weaving Yarn

Britain’s Cottons
Vintage Sample Box
Cotton Board Home Trade Department

Manchester, circa 1961. Boxed samples supplied by the Cotton Board Home Trade Department, containing cotton samples in seven formats at different stages of production, thirteen unique fabric swatches made from said cotton, each of the samples and swatches accompanied by a text description on a blue card. Together with the original photographic pictorial insert printed recto and verso to illustrate industrial cotton processing and provide statistics to entice commercial buyers. Original blue cardboard box measuring approximately 32 x 16 x 4 cm, with six box compartments within it serving to neatly separate and display the contents, and paper label to front. Wear and pierce marks to box, otherwise in excellent condition, its contents well preserved, an intact and complete item.

Samples show cotton at various stages, including:

   •    An American Cotton Boll

   •    Cleaned Cotton (Scutcher Lap)

   •    Carding (Card Silver)

   •    Slubbing

   •    Roving

   •    a Mule Cop of weft yarn ready for use in a loom shuttle.

   •    a Ring Tube of weft yarn suitable for warp in the weaving process

   •    13 finished woven fabric swatches, most of which are dyed

Statistics printed on the inserted leaf, reveal that in the year 1960, the United Kingdom exported cotton goods amounting to a value of £63,000,000 while local consumers purchased approximately 1,800 million square yards of cotton textiles. Further listing all the countries from where raw cotton and the like was imported, the United Kingdom purchased 822 million lbs. From this, the finished product of cotton textiles exported to Africa, Australia and New Zealand, America, and Western Europe, amounted to 327 million square yards exported.

An astounding 222,720 workers were employed in the United Kingdom Cotton Industry, mostly in Lancashire, but also including the neighbouring districts of Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Cheshire.NOTE:
Images of the Sample Cotton Boxes May Appear Larger Than Actual Size.
Each Measures approximately 8 x 8 x 4 cm.

The Cotton Board was an organisation to oversee the organisation, research, marketing and promoting the cotton textile industry mainly based in Lancashire and Glasgow. A voluntary Cotton Board was set up in 1940 to “promote the welfare of the industry by internal reorganisation, by the development of export trade, scientific research, propaganda and other means.” The board was given statutory status from 1948 to 1972 under the Industrial Organisation and Development Act 1947, and was known in its last years as the Textile Council. The Board had equal representation from industry and trades unions, with four members each, plus three independent members. It was given the power to levy up to £250,000 a year from the industry. Its headquarters was in Manchester, together with the “Colour, Design and Style Centre”, which became the public face of the board.

Between 1956 and 1962, the Cotton Board organised promotions to try and increase sales of Lancashire cotton within the UK, using generic marks, particularly the slogan “Buy British Cottons” – as seen on the leaf in the present display box. Its initiatives included new methods for utilising labour, recruitment and training, the encouragement of collaboration within the cotton industry, and design innovations. British fashion designs and fabrics were showcased at national and international exhibitions, ranging from an exhibition on the history of the cotton mills and a display of 1960s children’s clothing to soft furnishing promotions at large stores and national fashion shows.

Initiated by the Cotton Industry Act 1959, the Board engaged in a major attempt to reorganise the cotton industry, which entailed “the scrapping of machinery and compensation for redundant workers in the industry, which was carried through with great success and great expedition”. Regrettably, a combination of reduced consumer demand, poor marketing and cheaper Commonwealth imports during the period of reorganisation created, a reduction of confidence in the industry, according to the Board’s chairman Lord Rochdale. This both reduced the amount asked for by industry and invested by the government and resulted in machinery being installed in mills that either closed or became idle. Furthermore, because of the need to replace machinery on a ten-year cycle, idleness was likely to mean that investments would not be recouped.

The Board funded research into cotton fabrics via an industry-wide levy. This was undertaken by the British Cotton Industry Research Association (BCRIA), better known as the Shirley Institute. By the 1960s, research also involved man-made fabrics, whose manufacturers began to pay a research levy to the Cotton Board from 1961. Meanwhile, from 1946, the British Rayon Research Association (BRRA) was formed by the British Rayon Federation and others, to investigate the chemical and physical properties of rayon and rayon fabrics, using a wide range of laboratory and theoretical methods. It became clear that a merger between the BCIRA and BRRA was needed, and in 1961 the two joined together as “The Cotton, Silk, and Man-Made Fibres Research Association in 1961”, still popularly referred to as the Shirley Institute.

In 1967, the Cotton Board was renamed the Textile Council. Between 1967 and 1969, the Textile Council conducted an enquiry into the productivity of the industry, and produced a major report. The report ultimately recommended a move away from cotton import quotas to imposition of tariffs on cotton goods imported from the British Commonwealth and elsewhere, to protect British industries. The recommendation was accepted by Wilson’s Labour government and its Conservative successor. The Textile Council was dissolved in 1971-2, at its own request, as it was felt the work would be better handled by a new voluntary British Textile Council.

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