Thursday 15 September 2011

A Local Spinning Company?

Greenwoods ad in Vogue Knitting, 1946
We have a set of Vogue Knitting Books in the Knitting & Crochet Guild's collections at Lee Mills, and I have noticed ads from a Huddersfield company in the issues dating from the later 1930s to 1950s.  I live in Huddersfield so I was particularly interested in these ads - although many of the well-known  British spinners of knitting yarns were, and still are, based in West Yorkshire, and Huddersfield is an important producer of woollen cloth, I don't know of any existing knitting yarn spinners based in Huddersfield.

Greenwoods (of Victoria Street, Huddersfield) initially advertised a mail order service:
"Greenwoods can supply you with all the Wools and other threads mentioned in this and other Vogue issues.  ... In addition, any of the garments can be supplied COMPLETELY HAND-KNITTED & READY TO WEAR at reasonable prices from 12/6 upwards. Ask for a quotation for your favourite garment made to measure."
It seems a bit odd to read a knitting magazine and then pay someone else to do the knitting for you, but the ad appeared for several years, so I assume that it was a successful service.

The Victoria Street business appeared in a 1937 Huddersfield trade directory as "Miss Greenwood, Wool and Handicraft Depot".  So it appears that at that time, the company was only supplying yarns made elsewhere - interesting that it was owned by a woman.  Towards the end of the war, Greenwoods started advertising their own yarns, and then from 1946 the Vogue Knitting ads featured their own designs as well. In 1946 (between the two issues of Vogue Knitting) the company changed its name to Wakefield, Greenwood, and moved to Railway Street.  I wonder what had happened?  Was Miss Greenwood still involved in the business?  Had she got married to Mr Wakefield?

W.G. pattern leaflet 119, early 1950s

Back of W.G. leaflet 119

Wakefield, Greenwood continued to advertise into the 1950s, and I hoped to find one of their patterns at Lee Mills. One eventually appeared a couple of weeks ago - from the early 1950s, I guess.  But it was still a bit mysterious.  They claim to manufacture the yarns they are selling, but there cannot possibly have been a spinning mill on Railway Street, or even a warehouse - there is nowhere to put one.  So either they were actually buying in yarn from other companies, or their mill was somewhere else - but then why wasn't their office at the mill?

Then this week, I found a whole box of W.G. patterns.  The styles appear to date from the 1950s and early 1960s.  By sorting them into numerical order, and looking at the ads in Vogue Knitting too, it's possible to follow the development of the company.  At some time in the late 1950s, the company was renamed W.G. Spinners Ltd, but remained at Railway Street. And then a little later, in the early 1960s, the address changed to "Wakefield Mills, Thornhill Beck Lane, Brighouse".  
Ad for W.G. Spinners, 1962
Brighouse isn't far away, but it's not Huddersfield.  I felt quite proud that Wakefield, Greenwood were a Huddersfield company, but it turns out that they decamped to Brighouse - or maybe the spinning was done in Brighouse all along.  A bit disappointing.  Still, Miss Greenwood's original business was definitely Huddersfield based - I like to think of all those posh Vogue Knitting readers who couldn't knit paying to have their knitting done in Huddersfield.


  1. Bonjour,
    Today I found (and bought) in a flea market place six skeins of wool (seems to be lace) : Wools for the World - Nylon & Woll botany handknitting, by Wakefield Greenwood & co (Hudd.) Ltd, Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England.
    It is mixture of pure nylon and pure botany wool. (increased durability, rapid drying, non-shrink).
    The retailer in french Britany is Fil├ęs de Bretagne.
    That is all what is on the label.
    If you are interested, I can send you a picture ; I bought all the skeins available (it is a shame to divide them) for knitting a shawl, but I think I have too much, and I can send you one (for free) for your collection.
    Best regards & salutations.
    Elisabeth (

    1. Thank you Elisabeth- that is a very generous offer. Wakefield Greenwood is not a well-known company - I had not heard of it before I started working on the Guild's collection, even though I live in Huddersfield. It's fascinating that you found their yarn in France. I should like to see a photo (barbaraknitsagain at and we should be very pleased to add a skein to the collection - but please wait until you have finished the shawl, so that you know if you have one to spare.

  2. I was just given 3-25 gram balls of Greenwood &Co."Trianon" 100% mohair with tinsel. It's ultra fine lace weight, almost thread actually, in a dusty rose shade.

    I found it incredibly serendipitous since I have a distant cousin who lives in Huddersfield and I live on Vancouver Island,British Columbia, Canada

    1. How lovely! I've seen ads for Trianon, and we have some patterns, I think. But I've never seen any actual yarn. If you look at my later posts on Wakefield Greenwood, you'll see that I've done a lot more research since 2011. Although WG sold the usual range of wools, they also specialised in luxurious yarns, often very fine - they sold cashmere yarn in the 1950s and 60s, and were the first too sell nylon knitting yarn in this country, in the early 50s (when it was a luxury yarn). Trianon is another of these upmarket yarns.

  3. My grandparents were Clara Greenwood and Harold Wakefield. My grandmother owned the business you are discussing ...

    1. How wonderful to hear from you! I have done more research on the company since this post, including finding an article in the Huddersfield newspaper on Clara Greenwood's retirement in the 1960s. She said then that they had a daughter who was living in Canada with I think four sons - are you one of them? If you'd like to contact me directly, my email is barbaraknitsgain at


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