Sunday, September 15, 2013

Allen, Solly & Co.

Allen, Solly & Co. was a hosiery manufacturer established in  Nottingham in 1832. Initially the company used the “domestic system” to make their products, whereby workers (called stockingers) were supplied with a loom, raw materials (cotton, silk or wool), and would work at home. The finished products would then be collected and sold. By  the 1850s, Allen, Solly & Co. had gained a reputation for fine quality hosiery. The company was exporting its merchandise to all the principal European countries and boasted of having members of Royal Families, Indian Princes and Presidents of the United States as loyal customers.

As business increased, the domestic system was proving to be an uneconomic method of production. Consequently in 1860, the company built its first factory in Godalming, Surrey. In 1888 a purpose-built factory was established on the outskirts of Arnold, a village near Nottingham. Although Allen Solly engaged in most branches of fully fashioned knitwear, the company began to specialize in 6 and 3 rib hose and half hose. It was to this that the firm owed the greater part of its success and reputation.

In the 1940s and 50s Allen, Solly & Co. was described as a specialist in luxury knitted goods and manufacturer of socks and underwear. In the 1960s the company became part of Coats Viyella and in the 1990s the business was taken over by an Indian company called Madura Garments. Today, Allen Solly is just a brand and production is based in India. The factory in Arnold has been partially dismantled and what remains is used by a number of small businesses. The original knitting room is classified as a heritage building.

by Mark Matlach

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