[My Chamber of Textile Thoughts. No: XVIII | By Viveka Hansen]

The importance of the London & British Wool Market during the Victorian age is a fascinating and far-reaching subject, which is only briefly included in the research of the Whitby Gazette for my ongoing [published] textile project. The aim with this “Textile Thought” is to share some examples of how a weekly newspaper in Yorkshire even so with regularity published notes about the wool markets in London at this time. It is my hope that these local advertisements will inspire you who are interested in the wool trade, woollen industry, printing, London in general or the Victorian Era.

Whitby Gazette, February 18, 1860 (Owner: Whitby Museum, the Library).  Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

Whitby Gazette, February 18, 1860 (Owner: Whitby Museum, the Library). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

These notes/advertisements about wool have with other words only had limited importance for my Whitby Textile history project, while it has not been possible to find written evidence for that the harbour of Whitby or other branches of the town’s commerce were involved in the British wool trade (more than on a smaller local scale) during the Victorian time. However it can be established that information of this nature had a local economic interest when National Markets – normally in London – gave regular weekly information for several years around 1860 on prices of raw material and access to wool, hemp and flax. These notices often appeared under such headings as ‘London Wool’, ‘London Produce Markets’ or simply ‘The Markets’; but textile materials were less often mentioned in the later years of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th.

 Whitby Gazette, July 21, 1860 (Owner: Whitby Museum, the Library). Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

Whitby Gazette, July 21, 1860 (Owner: Whitby Museum, the Library). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

The regular notes in Whitby Gazette as well as in many other British newspapers of the time show us the local, national and international importance of the British wool market and in which way a weekly newspaper from a small coastal town noted the wool trading in London. But foremost the small adverts demonstrate the growing significance of the imported wool from the colonies of the Empire, where several countries at the time became indispensable partners in this trade of textile raw material transported in large wool bales on ocean-going ships to Britain.

In the paper Whitby Gazette it was not only advertised about “Wool” below the heading ‘London Produce Markets’, a number of other goods were also included. Here illustrated with an advert from June 30, 1860. (Owner: Whitby Museum, the Library). Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

In the paper Whitby Gazette it was not only advertised about “Wool” below the heading ‘London Produce Markets’, a number of other goods were also included. Here illustrated with an advert from June 30, 1860. (Owner: Whitby Museum, the Library). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

Information concerning the London Wool Market was as might be expected during the period, regularly published in London newspapers – as for example London Standard or London Daily News – or in other English cities whose newspapers also could include notes about the London Wool Market or the British Wool Market, if not for equivalent Markets in Liverpool, Bradford, Bristol etc. But spreading knowledge and reports of this important trade also had an economical interest in the British colonies themselves, from where a substantial export of wool were shipped to Britain.

Here exemplified with The South Australian Advertiser during the summer of 1860:

LONDON WOOL REPORT. – June 23, 1860.

The May-June sales closed on the 1st of June, the number of bales comprised in catalogues consisting of 11,757 bales Australian, 30,211 bales Port Phillip, 12,458 bales i Adelaide, 3,592 bales Van Diemen’s Land, 385 bales New Zealand, 701 bales Swan River, 8,847 bales Cape – total, 67,951 bales….

This somewhat later photograph (c. 1900) demonstates how the heavy wool bales were transported in Australia, most probably on its way to a warehouse/ship heading for Europe. However, wooden wool presses forming and packing the wool as compact as possible were already in use during the second half of the 19th century (Courtesy of: Tyrrell Photographic Collection, Powerhouse Museum, Wikimedia Commons).

This somewhat later photograph (c. 1900) demonstrates how the heavy wool bales were transported in Australia, most probably on its way to a warehouse/ship heading for Europe. However, wooden wool presses forming and packing the wool as compact as possible were already in use during the second half of the 19th century. (Courtesy of: Tyrrell Photographic Collection, Powerhouse Museum, Wikimedia Commons).

To be continued with more extracts…

[Extract (Chapter 1 & research material) for the forthcoming book ‘The Textile History of Whitby 1700-1914’, see “NEWS]. PUBLISHED JUNE 15TH, 2015.

ADDITIONAL SOURCES

 PLEASE REFERENCE AS FOLLOWS:

  • Hansen, Viveka, ‘London Wool Market – Whitby Gazette in 1860 (B 5)’, TEXTILIS (March 1, 2014); http://textilis.net/ (Accessed: Day/Month/Year)