Part Two - The Home Of Morlands Sheepskin.
We are very fortunate to have hundreds of documents, photographs and catalogues in our archives, dating back to the 1800's. As part of our 150th year anniversary, we are proud to share some of our heritage and share the Morlands journey with you.
Throughout the 1900s, the wool sheepskin tanneries in Northover, Glastonbury were reputed to be the largest in Europe. During its peak the factory was tanning 36,000 skins, preparing them for a whole range of products including rugs, mops, leggings, gloves, aprons, knickerbockers and of course slippers.
John Morland picked the 31 acre site for the exceptional water quality, which was critical to the production of high quality sheepskin goods.
Taken from Morlands archives. 1925.
At the height of the business, Morlands opened two more factories. The post-war shortage of labour at Glastonbury, when Morlands wished to restart their pram canopy business, led to building a factory at Highbridge, which was occupied in 1948. It was described as pleasant and airy and based seventeen miles away from Glastonbury near Burnham-On-Sea.
The second factory was based in Pool, Cornwall. After Morlands purchase of Maskell Fur Processes Ltd they took over the factory, modestly named the most modern factory in the country. This gave the local Cornish economy a much needed boost after the collapse of the tin mines.
Within the first ten years of opening, the factory labour force rose 60%. Generations of local families were encouraged to work at Morlands, and with favourable employee perks, generations kept coming back.
Sadly the business ran into difficulties during the recession in the 1980s. The large tannery closed and the manufacturing process was moved to a smaller building. The site was scheduled for demolition but a dedicated group of locals saved it from destruction in 2008. In 2015 the disused factory was set on fire, gutting the building. Part of the site has now been renovated and the main building still stands as a reminder of Glastonbury's rich heritage.
Image - Beckery Island Regeneration Trust www.beckeryislandregenerationtrust.co.uk
Image - Stray Off The Path www.strayoffthepath.co.uk