Our Unique Heritage
Our Unique Heritage

British-made fabrics since 1863

In 1863 David and Henry Mallalieu opened their textile mill in Delph, having formed a company in 1856 to work with local weavers in their homes. The brothers were descended from Huguenots who had fled from France to England in 1572 to escape religious persecution. The French Protestant Huguenots were renowned for their expertise in weaving and it was perhaps inevitable that by the early 1600s Mallalieus should have found their way to Delph, a centre for woollen cloth production since medieval times. That tradition still inspires Mallalieus of Delph today.

Explore Our Timeline 1863 1890 1901 1920 1930 1941 1955 1975 1996 2020
1863

Bailey Mill

Bailey Mill was the first home for Mallalieus of Delph. It was built in three stages – in 1863, 1865 and 1871 – by entrepreneurial brothers David and Henry Mallalieu. They were in their thirties when they opened the mill, but had been weavers since they were teenagers and had formed a company in 1856. From its earliest days, D & H Mallalieu at Bailey Mill was a vertical operation, taking in raw fibre, dyeing and spinning it, and weaving cloth on the same site. Cleverly, it was located alongside the railway line that had been extended to the village in 1851, making it easy to bring in the raw wool for processing, along with the coal to fire the boilers that provided the steam to drive the machines. The railway enabled finished cloth to be begin its journey to clients in the UK and around the world.

1890

The Woollen Specialist

By 1890 the vertical operation of D & H Mallalieu was a limited company, reflecting its widespread reputation and financial success. Always a specialist in woollen cloths, the mill originally wove shirtings before expanding into heavier qualities, such as woollens and flannels for men’s trousers and women’s dresses. It also became a celebrated producer of hat “forms” for hat makers, especially those in Luton, the UK’s headwear capital, and Stockport, another hat centre. Another highly successful woollen fabric for the company was tweed for the many cap manufacturers in the districts around nearby Failsworth and Manchester.

The Woollen Specialist

By 1890 the vertical operation of D & H Mallalieu was a limited company, reflecting its widespread reputation and financial success. Always a specialist in woollen cloths, the mill originally wove shirtings before expanding into heavier qualities, such as woollens and flannels for men’s trousers and women’s dresses. It also became a celebrated producer of hat “forms” for hat makers, especially those in Luton, the UK’s headwear capital, and Stockport, another hat centre. Another highly successful woollen fabric for the company was tweed for the many cap manufacturers in the districts around nearby Failsworth and Manchester.

1901

British Entrepreneurship

By the time Queen Victoria was succeeded by her son Edward VII at the turn of the 20thcentury, Mallieus of Delph was a well-regarded name among the hundreds of mills in the Yorkshire and Lancashire textile-producing area. Henry Mallalieu, seen right, who died in 1902, was the model of a Victorian entrepreneur, having interests in related companies that made textile-manufacturing machines, such as the famous “Dobcross” looms, and ironworks where the raw metal for the machines was forged. In Delph itself, Bailey Mill was a significant employer with the modern mechanised factory having replaced the old system of individual weavers working on looms in their own homes. The Mallalieus were very active in the social and political life of the area, while another branch of the family became well-known in national politics as Liberals.

1920

A Global Reputation

During World War I Mallalieus, like the rest of the British textile industry, had been switched largely to production of fabrics for uniforms. In the post-WWI era, its global network expanded across the British Empire, Europe and North America, based on its reputation in the home market. Its product range included fancy Saxonies, a huge selection of authentic Scottish tartans and “sports flannels” for the casualwear market of the day. Confident use of colour and bold designs became important parts of the Mallalieus’ signature, a tradition that continues today. End uses for its high-quality woollen fabrics ranged from everyday shirts to pyjamas to luxurious dressing gowns.

A Global Reputation

During World War I Mallalieus, like the rest of the British textile industry, had been switched largely to production of fabrics for uniforms. In the post-WWI era, its global network expanded across the British Empire, Europe and North America, based on its reputation in the home market. Its product range included fancy Saxonies, a huge selection of authentic Scottish tartans and “sports flannels” for the casualwear market of the day. Confident use of colour and bold designs became important parts of the Mallalieus’ signature, a tradition that continues today. End uses for its high-quality woollen fabrics ranged from everyday shirts to pyjamas to luxurious dressing gowns.

1930

A Family Business

After David and Henry Mallalieu, four generations of the family ran the business, ensuring a high standard of personal service to customers. Visitors from abroad were warmly welcomed at Bailey Mill on a regular basis. Family ownership ensured continuous investment in machinery so that the fully vertical operation – seeing raw fibre transformed into finished cloth – continued to be done on one site. That strategy still works for Mallalieus today.

1941

On a War Footing

Between 1941 and 1949 the UK textile and clothing industry operated under a strict rationing system. Under government supervision, production was switched to the manufacture of essential fabrics. Mallalieus was commissioned by the Ministry of Supply to make thousands of yards of its celebrated “Angola” shirting for the armed forces. The family had to wrestle with shortages of raw wool, of coal for the boilers and, as the war dragged on, even of staff as employees – male and female – were called up for military and other essential service. Remarkably, the mill still managed to export some of products through much of WWII although it regularly had to decline orders as it had no raw materials or capacity.

On a War Footing

Between 1941 and 1949 the UK textile and clothing industry operated under a strict rationing system. Under government supervision, production was switched to the manufacture of essential fabrics. Mallalieus was commissioned by the Ministry of Supply to make thousands of yards of its celebrated “Angola” shirting for the armed forces. The family had to wrestle with shortages of raw wool, of coal for the boilers and, as the war dragged on, even of staff as employees – male and female – were called up for military and other essential service. Remarkably, the mill still managed to export some of products through much of WWII although it regularly had to decline orders as it had no raw materials or capacity.

1955

Better Made in Britain

As much as 75% of Mallalieus’ production was exported in the post-WW2 period, with demand strong from regions as far apart as Scandinavia, Australia, South Africa and North America. American department stores like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Filene’s, and Canadian equivalents such as Eaton’s and The Hudson’s Bay Company, were regular customers. During the era when much clothing was manufactured in the UK, the Delph mill worked notably with better-end names such as Burberry, Aquascutum, Jaeger and Simon Ackerman, which set up the premium menswear brand Chester Barrie.

1975

Developing The Design Service

From the late 1960s onwards, times were not easy for the British textile and clothing industry and Mallalieus was not immune from the impact of low-cost production in the Far East especially. Its response was to continue to produce striking novelties and to work closely with clients on exclusives, while also having a strong offer of popular designs from stock.

Developing The Design Service

From the late 1960s onwards, times were not easy for the British textile and clothing industry and Mallalieus was not immune from the impact of low-cost production in the Far East especially. Its response was to continue to produce striking novelties and to work closely with clients on exclusives, while also having a strong offer of popular designs from stock.

1996

New Beginnings

In 1996 ownership of the business passed from the Mallalieus to the Gledhills, another long-established family of textile specialists in Delph and nearby Saddleworth. In 2000 the vertical production was moved a very short distance from Bailey Mill to the current site, Valley Mill, another long-established woollen mill in Delph.

2020

Tradition for Today's Clients

At Valley Mill the modern era for Mallalieus of Delph has developed. Virtually all the manufacturing processes take place on the site – ensuring a low carbon footprint – and clients from around the world continue to be fascinated by a tour of the vertical operation. The large product range – high-quality apparel and furnishing fabrics, plus accessories like lambswool scarves and throws – is designed with the contemporary consumer in mind. Manufacturing to high ethical standards, the mill is proud to use many traditional machines that do their fine work in the time-honoured way. A recent innovation is a system that captures heat from the steam boilers and recycles it to the dye house, thereby saving energy.

Tradition for Today's Clients

At Valley Mill the modern era for Mallalieus of Delph has developed. Virtually all the manufacturing processes take place on the site – ensuring a low carbon footprint – and clients from around the world continue to be fascinated by a tour of the vertical operation. The large product range – high-quality apparel and furnishing fabrics, plus accessories like lambswool scarves and throws – is designed with the contemporary consumer in mind. Manufacturing to high ethical standards, the mill is proud to use many traditional machines that do their fine work in the time-honoured way. A recent innovation is a system that captures heat from the steam boilers and recycles it to the dye house, thereby saving energy.

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