Tuesday, 20 February 2007

MEMORY LANE: FIBRECRAFTS

FIBRECRAFTS was founded by Anna Bowers. She trained as a Physics and Maths teacher, learning to spin on her great grandmother’s wheel when her two children were ‘at that stage’. With others in the village in West Essex she set up a Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. The difficulty of finding good quality reliable supplies at the end of the 1970’s led to seeking out suppliers and, by default, becoming a ‘table-top’ retailer.

The first, typed catalogue was sent out in the Spring of 1982 to 1,000 names bought from Tim Willcocks at Hedgehog Equipment (who still exist). Later the Textile Book business developed by Miss Whittaker was acquired to support the product range. You can click here to see a potted history of how the catalogue evolved.

A family move to Godalming in Surrey shortly after was greeted with “well, I’ll give it a year, and if it doesn’t work, then it’s back to teaching!”

In 1986 a merger with Barnhowe at Elterwater in the Lake District was agreed, bringing in weaving and dyeing skills. The business progressed and during this time Anna spent 5 years as Chairman of the National Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.

In 1994 Anna died suddenly of Legionnaire’s Disease. After a short period her husband, Ian who was also hospitalised by the same illness, took over the full time running of the business, and bought out the Barnhowe partners.

The ‘cottage’ industry from their home at Style Cottage has continued to grow incorporating a number of other businesses including George Weil & Sons Ltd, Suasion Ltd and the Papershed and FIBRECRAFTS is now run from a warehouse in Peasmarsh just outside Godalming.
The Warehouse & Showroom in Peasmarsh Surrey

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