Sunday, 11 February 2018

Haslemere Peasants & the Appleton's weavers

I have been unable to find any direct reference between the Haslemere Peasants weaving on Kings Road, Haslemere and the manufacture of braid a few hundred metres further down the road at Appleton's, Sickle Mill, Sturt Road.  It would be remiss not to mention this similar manufacturing industry taking place in Haslemere at the same time as the Haslemere Peasant Industries.
Appletons, Sturt Road and the Haslemere Peasant Industries, Kings Road,
Haslemere, an 8 minute walk apart (Google Maps)
Appleton's mill in Haslemere would have been long established before the Haslemere Peasant movement began.  It's existence and proximity to the Haslemere Peasant Industries on Kings Road would have been known to the Kings and Blount's, and I wonder what part that knowledge played in their decision to establish a Weaving House and Tapestry Studio on Kings Road?  The journey between the two sites is 8 minutes on foot (according to Google Maps), and at the time there were no recorded buildings between them.

Kelly's Directory of Kent, Surrey & Sussex 1891 (p.211, online here) stated that "the principle trade or manufacture of the place (Haslemere) is hoop making."  Kelly's 1913 Directory, the next one I can find online, records a dramatic increase in the town and that the principal trades are "brick and tile making and the makings of braid, bindings and cord etc."  The reference to braid, bindings and cord being a reference to Appletons and not to the Haslemere Peasant Industries.

Military braid, perhaps similar to braid that was manufactured at Appletons,
Sickle Mill, Haslemere c.1900
The Shottermill Scrapbook records “Mrs Dunce died in 1944, at the age of 95.  It is interesting to recall that in her young days, she was employed by Mr Appleton, at Sicklemill, where he carried on a mill for making braid for soldiers uniforms and for making wick for candles.  It is believed that at one time, this was the only mill in the country making this braid, and in Mrs Dunce’s time, a good many people were employed there. 

Plaque outside Sickle Mill,
Sturt Road, Haslemere

“Sicklemill was a paper mill in 1762, and passed into the Appleton family at the beginning of the 19th century.”  (Haslemere Society website, online here)

Winter and Collyer record that “Sickle Mill was owned by James Simmons who made paper there until 1870.  Through the second half of the century Henry and Thomas Appleton manufactured braid for decorating military uniforms….Messrs Appleton, who also manufactured braid at Elstead, sold Sickle Mill at auction in 1911.” (Around Haslemere and Hindhead in Old Photographs, Alan Sutton Publishing, 1991).

Sickle Mill (Winter & Collyer, Around Haslemere and Hindhead in Old Photographs,
Alan Sutton Publishing Limited, 1991)

The industry was described as “the manufacture of worsted lace and epaulettes for the trimming of military uniforms” by Surrey’s Industrial Past (online here).  The Appleton family of father Henry and son Thomas from London first set up machinery for spinning and weaving in Pitfold Mill, Haslemere in 1835, a mill owned by James Simmons, a local papermaker.  Thomas Appleton moved to nearby Elstead and began manufacturing there in an old corn mill.  In 1851 Thomas Appleton, then 35, was described in the census as “master manufacturer of small ware employing 100 hands”.  In 1854 he bought Sickle Mill from Simmons.  Surrey's Industrial Past reports that the firm left the district in the 1880s.  By contrast Winter and Collyer report that Appleton bought Sickle Mill c.1870 and sold the mill in 1911.  However Kelly's Directory in 1913 records a John B. Appleton, surely a relative of Henry and Thomas, residing at Sickle Mill.

Sickle Mill today, from Google Maps
Appletons is still in business today!  A few years ago I got in touch with Diana Cawdron, the current owner, to see if she had any information to share, unfortunately she had none and explained "I bought the company in March 2013 and it had been in the family for 180 years.  Very little of the company history was preserved but I do know that it was very involved in military uniforms such as embroidery and goldwork so I’m sure there would have been braiding too.  I met an elderly lady whose mother as a girl had made plumes and cockades for military hats for Appletons.  Unfortunately I have no record of connection to Haslemere.  When we took over the company was reduced to selling only tapestry wool and was based in Chiswick and Epsom."

Looking at their website today, it is interesting to read that Appleton's recently provided the tapestry wool for completing the missing sections of the Bayeux Tapestry!  I wish the continuation of the firm every success.

from Appleton's website here

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