David Whitehead write up

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Lancashire Life magazine with vintage David Whitehead fabric

Lancashire Life isn’t one of our regular magazine subscriptions, but we sometimes pick up a copy if something catches our eye on the cover. We actually live in Todmorden, West Yorkshire – but we’re very close indeed to the Lancashire border (it actually used to run through the town centre here until the mid 19th century) – so there are often places that we’re familiar with or new potential destinations featured that are within easy reach.

'Lancashire's Material Wealth' article in Lancashire Life

In this November’s edition it was the article entitle ‘Lancashire’s Material Wealth’ that made it a ‘must buy’ copy. The write up features friends Bernard & Jill Laverty, the Directors of David Whitehead & Sons based in Parbold, Lancashire. The article touches on the company’s long & interesting history including its textile heyday in the 1950s era when great names such as Sir Terence Conran, Henry Moore, Marian Mahler and Jaqueline Groag produced designs for them.

Jill & Bernard Laverty, Directors of David Whitehead & Sons Ltd

We first met Jill & Bernard after they read one of our post’s featuring a huge haul of vintage fabric we’d acquired. The couple were researching their company archives including the fabric designs that were once stocked by David Whitehead & Sons. Production of them had long since ceased at this point.

Jill Laverty modelling two of the reissued David Whitehead fabrics

Jill in particular was caught by the bug and, having invested much time and money over recent years, they’ve now actually begun to re-launch some superb classic designs taken from these archives. We went to a wonderful celebration lunch at Windermere Boating Club a few weeks ago to mark the event.

Samples of David Whitehead & Sons reissued fabric

Production will stay in Lancashire – the highly-regarded textile printers Standfast & Barracks of Lancaster undertaking the work. The modern textiles produced are lovely quality – we were able to have a good look and feel at Windermere! It’s quite early days for the new range, so media exposure like this article is going to be essential. We’re confident that there’ll be huge demand for them and are really excited to see where the designs are going to start popping up!

David Whitehead relaunch

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David Whitehead relaunch event at Broad Leys, Windermere

This weekend, we attended the David Whitehead relaunch and bicentenary.

Front of Broad Leys, home to the Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club

It was held at Broad Leys, home to Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club – a beautiful Charles Voysey-designed Arts & Crafts building.

Arts & Crafts decorative fireplace vent grille featuring birds and trees

There were wonderful architectural features wherever you looked – even down to tiniest details such as this fireplace vent grille… and of course, stunning views out over the lake.

View of Lake Windermere from Broad Leys, home to the Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club

It takes a lot to compete with that. Fortunately, we were there to celebrate the relaunch of six of their classic fabric designs. Compete – they certainly did!

Rolls of relaunched David Whitehead fabric

We first met Jill & Bernard Laverty, the current owners of David Whitehead & Sons Ltd, a few years ago. They contacted us after we blogged about an amazing discovery of unused vintage fabrics that had laid untouched for 50 years in a store room – many of them were rolls manufactured by David Whitehead. We shared a cuppa initially and later on visited them for lunch. We talked all things David Whitehead – the history of production, their archive and future potential.

Cushions covered in relaunched David Whitehead fabrics in bay window of Broad Leys, home to the Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club

At that point in time, David Whitehead had stopped making fabrics and were concentrating on other products. Jill in particular was bitten by the bug and keen to explore the possibilities of a textile range. She bought vintage fabric samples and visited museum archives.

Samples of original vintage David Whitehead fabrics

The company then set about looking into the production of some of their classic designs, copyright ownership, a future re-launch, press & marketing, new website etc! And here we were celebrating the culmination of all their efforts – an amazing achievement from those initial early chats – what a journey they’ve been on!

Samples of original vintage David Whitehead fabrics with antique wooden bobbins and page from a vintage Ambassador magazine fashion shoot featuring Whitehead fabrics

We had a wonderful lunch surrounded by the relaunched fabrics. There were products such as cushions and recovered chairs to show potential uses, stands & displays portraying the company history and some of their great designers – Marion Mahler, Eduardo Luigi Paolozzi, Jacqueline Groag, Henry Moore, John Piper, Terence Conran… what names!

Marian Mahler display including stool covered in relaunched yellow fabric from her original design

There was a film history showing and fabric bunting dotted about the venue – even the waiting staff were wearing David Whitehead fabric aprons.

Display including samples of Sir Terence Conran's original fabric designs for David Whitehead

And onto one of those great design names – Sir Terence Conran, as he is now, attended the relaunch and made a short speech about the significance of David Whitehead in his own life and the importance of the entrepreneurial spirit of the company in the post-war years around the time of the Festival of Britain. What a pleasure it was to share a table with him!

Jill Laverty with friend Kathy and Sir Terence Conran at the David Whitehead relaunch event

He expressed his opinion that the current owners share the same entrepreneurial spirit and that he was delighted to see the textiles coming into production again – and that he would happily help with their publicity in any way he could.

Lunch at David Whitehead relaunch event

The fabrics are being produced by Standfast & Barracks, so it’s production in Lancashire once again which is great – heritage combined with modern production techniques to produce a top quality product.

Selvedge from relaunched David Whitehead fabric

And so to the future – well, the sky’s the limit. Will Jill and Bernard sell the fabrics wholesale? Will they make homeware products using their classic designs? There were no shortage of ideas flying around from tea towels to dog coats!

The six relaunched David Whitehead fabric patterns

Whatever they choose to do, we’re sure it will be a great success. They’ve obviously got great vision and drive to reach this point, they’re passionate and determined. These wonderful vintage designs (and perhaps new ones) will arrive on the market place with a huge impact.

Bunting made from relaunched David Whitehead fabric

And on a personal note – you couldn’t wish to meet a lovelier couple which just adds to the goodwill we feel for them as things move forward. So many thanks to Jill & Bernard for inviting us – we’re looking forward to seeing what happens next!

Gimme Five! tea towels

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selection of 5 tea towels

We go through tea towels like nobody’s business! Do you? We treat them really mean. They get stained so easily and lose their vibrancy after a few washes. We somehow manage to set a fair few on fire as well!

It’s such a shame to do that to tea towels – some of them are so beautiful – like works of art. Some people have them displayed on their walls. In fact, we’ve got a few put away ourselves waiting to be framed.

Luckily, for the most part they don’t break the bank; so if you come across some with a particularly pretty pattern, stock up on a few!

  1. Set of 2 very large French linen tea towels (vintage): €40, Cachette
  2. Arca pack of 3 patterned tea towels: £12, Habitat
  3. Tea cups tea towel: £6.50, Etsy
  4. Marimekko Kippis Cheers set of 2 tea towels: £30, Heal’s
  5. The Tea Towel: £9.95, by Distinctly Living, Notonthehighstreet

Vintage Fabric Pieces

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collection of vintage fabric pieces drying on a washing line

A couple of years ago we blogged about a great haul of unused vintage fabric, most of which was still on the roll.

patchwork of four different fabric pieces

At the same time, we got three large bags of vintage fabric pieces which have been sitting in our loft ever since. The fabric dates from the 1950s and most of it had already been made up into seat covers.

patchwork of four different fabric pieces

They’re unused though and there are some lovely patterns amongst them, so perfect for crafting projects…

patchwork of four different fabric pieces

…big enough for cushion panels, light shades or some kind of patchwork, maybe.

patchwork of four different fabric pieces

We’ve given them all a quick wash – they certainly brightened up a grey Pennine day when they were hanging out to dry.

collection of vintage fabric pieces drying on a washing line

We’re taking them down to our antiques centre pitch, priced at £5 each. So if you’re near Todmorden, pop in for a rummage! We can also pop them in the post if there’s anything that catches your eye from the photos.

Forthcoming Attractions: Mid May 2012

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group of vintage items soon to be added to the H is for Home website including a medium sized orange & white Cathrineholm Lotus enamel bowl, wooden rolling pin with red handles, pottery mixing bowl with blue interior, orange cased glass light shade produced by Holmgaard, floral fabric in shades of orange, wooden shopping reminder board, wooden letter rack, set of wooden handled knives in a stand, pottery sifter made by Portmeirion and a metal swizzle stick with blue painted wooden handle

Here’s a new batch of recent vintage finds – slightly more items than our last ‘Forthcoming Attractions’ post!

group of vintage kitchenalia items soon to be added to the H is for Home website including a wooden rolling pin with red handles, pottery mixing bowl with blue interior, pottery sifter made by Portmeirion and a metal swizzle stick with blue painted wooden handle

We’ll start with a few pieces for the kitchen. Quite a blue feel to the selection. These vintage mixing bowls often have cream interiors, but more rarely have these lovely coloured glazes in blue, orange or yellow. The utensil sitting inside the bowl is a drinks mixer or frother. The metal whisk end spins as you press the handle down – perfect for cocktails, hot chocolate etc.

detail from a group of vintage kitchenalia items soon to be added to the H is for Home website including a wooden rolling pin with red handles, pottery mixing bowl with blue interior, pottery sifter made by Portmeirion and a metal swizzle stick with blue painted wooden handle

The sugar or flour sifter is classic 1960s with its geometric pattern in sky blue & deep olive green. It’s from the ‘Tivoloi’ range produced by Portmeirion Pottery.

close up view of orange cased glass light shade produced by Holmgaard

This bowl could also find a good home in the kitchen, but has a thousand uses around the house. We often feature these pieces of colourful enamel produced by Cathrineholm of Norway – teapots, pans, bowls, ice buckets and more!

pair of vintage wooden items soon to be added to the H is for Home website - a wooden letter rack and set of wooden handled knives in a stand, pottery sifter made by Portmerion and a metal swizzle stick with blue painted wooden handle

Now for a bit of wood. The butter knife set is a great bit of Scandinavian design – sculptural and useful. It was produced by Karlsson & Nilsson of Sweden in the 1950s or 60s. We think the letter box is very sweet – it would give a lovely vintage touch to an office desk or hallway.

vintage 1950s wooden shopping list reminder board

Probably our favourite object this week is this 1960s shopping list board. It’s a humble object and quite a rare survivor being so simply constructed. It certainly has lots of charm.

detail from a vintage 1950s wooden shopping list reminder board

We love the graphics – wife doing a spot of homemaking, hubby out collecting the parcels!!

orange cased glass light shade produced by Holmgaard and a quantity of floral fabric in shades of orange

And finally, a bold flash of orange. The lampshade is a very good quality piece of cased glass – it was produced by Holmegaard of Denmark, in the 1960s or 70s. The fabric is from a similar era. We think it might have been produced by Crabtree Fabrics. It would make great cushion covers.

close up view of floral patterned fabric in shades of orange

Or perhaps even more perfect… curtains for a vintage camper van. One glimpse of these and you’d be in a happy, holiday frame of mind!