So here we are, still going strong after almost two decades of messing about with yarn and fibre! I never dreamt I would end up with our magnificent worsted spinning and processing Mill complete with an extraordinary compliment of the talented staff. Little did I know when I headed South West, in a second-hand old blue metro with bald tyres, and rather a lot of records, that my vague plan of setting up a textile business would end up being my life's work.
My wife, Juliet and I, are based in Lynton (on the North Devon Coast), but began the business by utilising spinning machinery in a working wool museum in Mid Devon called Coldharbour Mill. It was there that I began building our spinning Mill. I decided to bite the bullet and start a Mill from scratch because, at that time in the UK, it was virtually impossible to get fibre spun into unique and interesting blends if you wanted smaller quantities than big commercial spinners. After a conversation with a good textile engineering friend of mine who said “you need to go buy it yourself lad, it’s as cheap as chips at the moment, you won’t pay more than scrap value” (all said in a broad Bradford accent), I went forth and started acquiring machinery. At the time old machinery was worthless and mills were still closing and tragically scrapping all they had. I got there in the nick of time and purchased tons of machinery and, with a tear in my eye, often watched old machines that I couldn’t rescue being smashed with sledge hammers and dumped into skips.
This path was a rocky one for both Juliet and I. More often than not, I was biting off far more than I could chew, getting tons of machinery for a song then realising that dismantling it four floors up in an old Mill with no lift was going to cost far more than machinery itself! But somehow we managed with (quite literally) a lot of blood, sweat, sleepless nights and driving double overloaded trucks down the motorway, praying we wouldn’t get stopped!
So, after a few years, I had a full set of machines and the Mill was complete. It was at this point that we realised we had outgrown the space at Coldharbour Mill and had to move to a new location. South Molton, Pathfields Industrial Estate, was the obvious choice just 30 minutes across Exmoor from where we live and 400 yards from the British Wool Marketing Board grading station. An industrial unit, not as pretty as Coldharbour Mill, but with flat floors, a roller shutter door and loads of space! That was over 7 years ago and since then we have (unsurprisingly) acquired 6 more machines, 4 more members of staff and a 2nd industrial unit. Juliet looks at me these days and says “Do we have everything we need now?” I just give her a wry smile as there is always just one more machine!
Thanks to all our customers for your warm wholehearted support & encouragement. We would not be here without you...
All the best indeed,
JOHN ARBON TEXTILES