Monday, October 1, 2012

Witney Blankets

Witney is a town on the River Windrush, 12 miles west of Oxford in England.  Prime Minister David Cameron is  from Witney.

Witney has been famous for its woolen blankets since the Middle Ages and was a major supplier of "Point Blankets" for the Hudson Bay Trading Company.  The water for the production of these blankets is drawn from the River Windrush which was believed to be the secret of Witney's high quality blankets.  At one time there were five blanket factories in the town.  But in 2002 Early's, the largest maker (and in business since the 17th century) closed down. Here are some photos of the old factory. It is lovely!

You may remember my mentioning Witney Blankets in my recent post about the Hudson Bay Trading Company.  This is a Witney for a horse.  Rambo makes "fake Witney's"  that look just like this.  The Rambo's are polar fleece and not wool.

You can order an Earl's of Witney blanket from the UK here:

By the 1670s the Oxfordshire town of Witney was supplying blankets, made from locally produced Cotswold wool, to the Hudson's Bay Company in North America. The blankets were highly prized in the cold climate for their excellent insulating and water repellant qualities.  By the end of Queen Victoria's reign Early's of Witney were receiving orders from across the globe including Spain, Portugal, the United States, Bermuda, Australia, Newfoundland, South Africa and South America. Wellington's armies were supplied with Witney blankets and this military supply tradition continued with 85% of the 718,000 blankets made in 1944 being for military use. Production of the famous brand was eventually extended world wide with Witney blankets being made under license in Canada, the Czech Republic, India, New Zealand and the United States. 

Here are a few photos from the olden days at Witney:

You can order blankets for dogs too.

And I bet this vest is very warm.  You order fake ones here in the US but they not wool.

  I don't know who makes the Witney's now, and I am certain they are not the same.  There is a lot of chatter on the web about buying old Witney's from surplus stores and garage sales.  That old saying "they don't make things like they used to" is apropos in this case. Sad but true.  We have cheapened everything now, imported from China, as we want quantity and not quality.  I have a very thick wool horse blanket from the UK that I bought in the 90's and it is unlike anything I have seen here in the US.  Nothing comes close to it.

Have a great day and treasure how things used to be.  Progress isn't always so wonderful.


  1. I have never heard those called Witney blankets, we call them Newmarket blankets. Interesting post :)

    1. I think Newmarket is a subset of Witney if that makes any sense.

  2. Thanks for this info!! I agree with the first comment--I always called the 3/4 exercise rugs Newmarket rugs. It's great to know where my blankets came from!!
    Love every post--Thanks

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