Sunday, March 30, 2014

Charles Bayer & Co. Ltd.

Charles Bayer & Co. Ltd. was a corset manufacturing company, established in the late 19th century in Bath by a German immigrant named Charles Bayer.

In 1892 large four-story premises were established in the city. The red brick building was England's first corset factory, and the first factory in Bath to be built with an integrated electric light supply. The top floor of the building housed a workshop for making suspenders and the printing department. The cutting room was on the third floor; cloth was cut into pieces by a 22ft long cutting machine and girls on either side of the cutter used sewing machines to stick and join the pieces together. The second floor housed the finishing rooms where the products were pressed and ironed. The lower floors contained the stock room, general office and dispatch department – the corsets were shipped all over the world.

As the business grew, Bayer established additional corset factories in Bristol, Portsmouth, Gloucester and London. Bayer's advertisements boasted that his “superfine British corsets for British wearers” were made with the “daintiest French fabrics” and were “as easy fitting as a perfectly cut kid glove, with a complete absence of pressure upon the respiratory organs.”

Bayer's business was all but wiped out in the 1930s, but corset production continued under new owners who, in the 1970s, added lingerie to its lines. The large factory in Bath closed down in 1982, although the building still stands today.

Charles Bayer corset

by Mark Matlach


  1. There were stay factories in Bath long before Bayer. Robert Drew & Co in New Bond Street dates back before 1846. George Langridge and Co. opened their Albion stay manufactory in the Upper Bristol Road in the 1860s. They already had a stay factory in Bristol. The terms 'stay' and 'corset' are not wholly interchangeable but I suspect that Bayer used the, then, more fashionable word 'corset' and was therefore able to claim that their's was the first corset factory.

  2. Just to take this one step further. Graces Guides state that Charles Bayer and Co, corset manufacturer, was established at 31, London Wall, London EC, in 1870. They eventually had 25 factories around Britain. The Bath factory was just one of many.