Schofield is working with a number of English companies on the development of the Blacklamp ® Carbon wrist watch. These companies form the Blacklamp Advisory Circle which has its own pages, found by clicking here. The Blacklamp which is due to be revealed at Salon QP 2013 has its own blog found here…
We Collaborate with a select range of companies that form an important part of our British manufacturing heritage. This list is growing along side our product range. To see our products click here
The long pedigree of the fabric goes back as far as the late 1930s. With war looming, the British government thought that there would be a shortage of flax that was used in those days for fire hoses and water buckets. An alternative was required and research was commenced into the use of cottons, woven in such a way as to keep water in.
With the onset of World War ll the research team, based at the Shirley Institute in Manchester, was askedto expand their work into the development of pilot’s immersion suits. During World War II Britain depended upon convoys carrying vital supplies across the Arctic Ocean. These convoys were particularly susceptible to attack from submarines and long range bombers. Home based RAF fighter escort cover was impossible because of long distances involved. In an attempt to find a solution Winston Churchill promoted the concept of catapulting expendable Hurricane aircraft from the decks of merchant ships to provide local cover for the convoys. However, there was no means of landing back on the deck so the pilot had the choice of ditching the aircraft or bailing out into the sea. There was no problem in spotting the pilots who had signals and lights, but the water was so cold that life expectancy was only a few minutes.
There was an urgent need for a new, protective clothing fabric that would be comfortable in the cockpit under combat conditions and that would also keep a pilot warm and dry in the sea. After many trials the scientists developed the fabric called ‘Ventile’. When made into finished garments, life expectancy in the sea was extended from a few minutes to 20 minutes and rescue was now a real possibility. 80% of anti-submarine pilots who fell into the sea survived.
Ventile is made from 100% cotton using a long staple fibre, only found in the top 2% of the world’s crop. After gentle spinning and doubling, the yarn is woven into a very dense Oxford weave, using up to 30% more yarn than conventional woven fabrics. It is not coated or laminated, the combination of the dense weave and the swelling properties of the fibres when wet provide excellent weatherproofing. The natural product offers a high level of comfort and is waterproof, windproof, but breathable, durable and quiet in use. It also has strong resistance to tearing and burning.
Ventile fabrics for RAF clothing went into mass production in 1943 and the military association still remains to this day. Garment designs have changed over the years but you will still find Ventile suits in modern Tornado jets with the RAF and other NATO air forces. It is popular with birdwatchers and naturalists because, unlike synthetic fabrics such as Gore-Tex, it is quiet when in use. It is very popular among survivalists and bush crafters in the European forests because of its strong resistance to tearing and fire. It is also widely used in polar expeditions. Famously Ventile was used during the 1953 British expedition to Everest, forming the outer fabric on Edmund Hillary’s Parka jacket. 100% Ventile cotton patches were also integrated into Sherpa Tenzing Norgay’s sports jacket which he used on various Everest expeditions including the successful 1953 first ascent.
Schofield is proud to use Ventile in our new range of watch straps, available from December 2012.
Abraham Moon and Sons is a family owned company located in Yorkshire, traditional home of the English cloth mills.
The company was founded by Abraham Moon in 1837, the year Queen Victoria succeeded to the British throne. Abraham Moon lived in the community of Guiseley and supplied many local families with yarn to weave cloth on hand looms in their homes. When the cloth was woven he would collect the pieces, paying the weavers for their work. The cloth was then scoured (washed) locally and hung out to dry in the surrounding fields. Abraham would then transport the pieces by horse and cart to Leeds for sale in the market.
In 1868 Moon had a three storey mill built on Netherfield Road, Guiseley, less than 300 yards from his house at the top of Oxford Avenue. The mill had an abundant source of local water which was soft and ideal for scouring and other processes necessary in woollen manufacture. The business continued to flourish, but in 1902 the original multi-storey mill burned to the ground. The company was moved to the centre of town where a much larger single storey mill was built. Moon Mills became a fully vertical mill, with dyeing, blending, carding, spinning, weaving and finishing processes all taking place on one site.
Nowadays Moon Mills is regarded as one of the finest exporters of fabrics in the world.
Moon Mills works alongside Schofield, providing fabrics for our watch straps, the Schofield Strap Kit and the Cherchbi x Schofield Watch Wallet.
The history of British Millerain can be traced back to the industrial revolution, and the year 1880 when the Miller family started the cotton business in Halifax, Yorkshire. Six generations later the company is now based in Rochdale, Lancashire. The early years saw the production of waxed fabrics for the rigors of life in the armed forces, Millerain soon developing a reputation as a leader in the field of waterproofed fabrics. Over time these fabrics have also become synonymous with English country pursuits.
Cherchbi was established by Adam Atkinson in 2007 and began with a simple idea to make bags using the discarded wool of the ancient Herdwick breed of mountain sheep.
The Herdwick has a 1,000-year heritage and worthy reputation as Britain’s hardiest mountain sheep. Reared primarily for it’s specialty meat, the breed has EU protected food name status and appears on menus of many of the country’s best restaurants. However the fleece had long been considered almost worthless and was sometimes burned.
Over a period of four years Cherchbi transformed this low value fleece into a high quality cloth: the Herdwick No.10. Herdwick No.10 is a pure wool, it’s colour and texture derived from the distinctive Herdwick fleece. It is spun, woven and finished entirely in the British Isles. The fleece originates in the Cumbrian Lake District and is spun into yarn in Kilcar, County Donegal. The spinning process is slowed giving the yarn greater strength. This is woven into cloth in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Extra picks are added into the loom creating an unusually dense weave. The tweed is sent to Galashiels in the Scottish borders where it undergoes specialist finishing. Finally, in Lancashire, the finished wool tweed is bonded to its cotton.
CHERCHBI has now become a leather goods and accessories brand using the best natural raw materials including vegetable-tanned English saddle leather, their own Herdwick No.10 wool tweed, brass Riri zips, cotton, linen and solid brass & pewter hardware. Most of these materials are locally sourced to their specification and are natural and sustainable.
Cherchbi is collaborating with Schofield to create the Schofield Watch Wallet incorporating the Herdwick No.10 wool tweed and vegetable-tanned English saddle leather.
Grove and Sons is the last remaining horn button manufacturer in England.
James Grove founded his business in 1857 with his wife, Ann Elizabeth and began by selling buttons from his hotel room as he travelled across Europe. At that time, buttons were either made from Horn or Hoof. Many were compression moulded with crests; either fancy or military insignia.
During the American civil war company archives show that both Confederate and Unionist sides chose to have their buttons made by James Grove.
The Company was incorporated as a Private Limited Company on 11 January 1917 and records show that around 600 men and women were employed at that time, making and polishing buttons by hand. Over the years, compression moulding of Horn and Hoof became too labour intensive and therefore too expensive and so the manufacturing process switched to injection moulded machines. The turning of Horn buttons on lathes however continued.
One of James Grove’s traditional trades was uniform buttons, supplying the Ministry of Defence, British Railways and the General Post Office.
During the 1950s James Grove started making synthetic buttons from a material called casein (made from a milk derivative). This material is now quite rare. The curing of the raw material is a lengthy manufacturing process, taking several weeks. The finish however is very smooth and shiny making an extremely desirable button, especially for the ‘couture’ fashion industry.
Today, the company, which is still owned by the Grove family, is the only manufacturer of real Horn buttons in the UK. Grove and Sons, based in the West Midlands, is the largest manufacturer of buttons in the United Kingdom and one of the largest manufacturers of real Horn buttons in the world.
Schofield is proud to have collaborated with Grove and Sons on customising our horn toggle to accompany the Schofield linen lanyard.
Cro’Jack is the brainchild of Dean Batty and Daljit Mehat who for a number of years have been looking at establishing their own brand label – supplying first-class clothing, manufactured in the UK, ensuring a strong and authentic British image. Both Dean and Daljit have a wealth of experience within the fashion and textile industry. Joining Dean and Daljit is Lisa Batty previously senior designer to the prestigious brand Belstaf, formerly another British outerwear brand.
Acme was the brain child of Joseph Hudson, a farm worker from Derbyshire who moved to the city of Birmingham, like so many during the Industrial Revolution, and trained as a toolmaker. Hudson converted the wash house at the side of his end of terrace “ back to back” home in St Marks Street into a workshop where he made many things to help increase his family’s income. His early products were snuff boxes, cork screws and whistles.
His whistle business was very small until in 1883 the London Metropolitan Police advertised for an idea to replace the policeman’s rattle, a cumbersome means of communication for the bobby on his “beat” (the name given to his patrol). Joseph Hudson invented a novel whistle for the purpose. It could be held in the mouth leaving the hands free, a clear advantage over the rattle. Joseph Hudson’s dilemma was in finding a distinctive and far carrying sound. Pondering on this problem as he played his violin he failed to place his instrument down firmly on the table when he had finished playing and it fell to the ground and broke. He noticed what a jarring and discordant sound it made as it broke and sensed that this was the type of sound he needed for his new whistle.
The police tested his new whistle on Clapham Common and were delighted when it was clearly heard just over a mile (1.6Km) distance.
Over the next 135 years Acme developed and patented over 40 different whistle designs. Here are just a few of these world firsts: The Metropolitan Police Whistle, The Acme Thunderer, The Acme Siren, the Silent Dog Whistle.
By the year 2000 sales had reached big numbers. The Acme Thunderer alone had sold over 200 million with the many other whistles of the range adding dramatically to its total. Sales may now be in millions to every corner of the globe but some things never change. Joseph Hudson used to insist on blowing every whistle himself personally before it left the factory.
Acme Whistles made and supplied the original stock of Thunderers for officers and senior ratings of the ill-fated Titanic ocean liner. Surviving examples discovered over the years have commanded high prices at auction and generated considerable publicity. The collector’s model featured alongside the Schofield Lanyard is still made from all the original tooling.
Schofield Watch Company wanted to make a linen lanyard for the famous ACME brass ‘Titanic’ whistle, as an accessory to accompany the Schofield Signalman wrist watch.The lanyard uses a laser engraved horn toggle made by Grove and Sons, the last remaining English horn button manufacturer. The linen rope is of the type used for hanging weights in antique clocks. There is a custom designed brass toggle and leather cord attaching the lanyard to the whistle. It comes packaged in a card box labelled with a portrait of Commander Lightoller. In an incredible career Commander Lightoller was, amongst other things, the highest ranked officer to survive the Titanic, awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and at the age of 66 sailed to Dunkirk rescuing 130 men aboard his boat the Sundowner.