Finding out more
Further down this page is a bibliography that forms one of the main sources of information about the Witney blanket industry. Other major sources of information are:
'Our Founder', an oil painting used as part of an advertising
campaign by Early's.
- the extensive collections of archives and documents held by the
Oxfordshire Record Office; the books, photographs, oral history
recordings and articles held by Oxfordshire Studies; the
collections of blanket industry-related objects held by
Oxfordshire Museums Service and Witney and District Museum; the
local studies section of Witney Library, which has a good
selection of relevant published sources. For further details of
all of these go to the 'Places to visit' page.
- twelve oral histories undertaken for the Witney Blanket Project,
to which more are being added, interviewing a range of people
who had different trades and jobs within the industry. For full
details go to 'Search the Collections' and search for 'oral
- at least four films have been produced on various aspects of the
Witney blanket industry, including a 20 minute advertisement
feature by Pathé for Smith and Philips', a ten minute film on
mop making for Early's, an eight minute film recording the last
days of outdoor tentering, and an advertising short about
blanket making in the 1970s. For more details, go to 'Search the
Collections' and search for 'film'.
Books appear in alphabetical order according to the author's name.
The Excavation of a Medieval Manor House of the Bishops of Winchester at Mount House Witney, Oxfordshire
Allen, Tim & Hiller, Jonathon, Oxford University School of Archaeology, Oxford, 2002
- archaeological excavation report which includes the historical context.
The Woollen Industry
Aspin, Chris, Shire Publications Ltd, Princes Risborough, 1994
- a book in the 'Shire Album' series which provides a concise history of the wool trade in Britain and deals with the processes involved in manufacture, includes plenty of illustrations.
The Cassington Canal
Belsten, K. & Compton, H., The Railway and Canal Historical Society Journal, October 1966, 1966
- article in a journal giving a brief history of the Cassington Canal.
Belsten, K. & Compton, H., The Railway and Canal Historical Society Journal, July 1968, 1968
- article in a journal giving a brief history of the nearest wharf on the River Thames to Witney.
Benson, Anna P., Shire Publications Ltd, Princes Risborough, 1983
- a book in the 'Shire Album' series dealing with the major developments in textile machinery from medieval times to the 20th century, includes plenty of illustrations.
May Day to Mummers - Folklore and Traditional Customs in Oxfordshire
Bloxham, Christine, Wychwood Press, 2002
- an examination of Oxfordshire customs and traditions throughout the calendar year, including entries on the tuckers and quill winders associated with the Witney blanket industry.
Trade Unionism in the Witney Blanket Industry
Buckle, David, unpublished, 2003
- unpublished article by an ex-trade union representative who worked within the blanket industry, held at the Museums Resource Centre, Standlake. Also available via this website, go to 'The People and Companies' and then 'Life in the Mills'.
A Walk Around Witney
Carroll, N., et al., Witney and District Historical and Archaeological Society, 1978
- an illustrated tour guide to many of Witney's buildings and their history.
The Blanket Weavers of Witney - their Origins and Experiences 1841-1871
Clements, Jeffrey R., unpublished, Oxford, 2003
- unpublished BA Hons dissertation, Oxford Brookes University; copies held at the Museums Resource Centre (Standlake) and Witney Library.
Apprentice - a Historical Novel
Early, Richard, Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd, London, 1977
- a fictionalised account, although based on many of the known facts, of the life of the five times great-grandfather of the author - Thomas Early (1655-1733). Thomas became a Master Weaver in Witney and took an active role in establishing a blanket making guild in the town.
Early, Richard, Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd, London, 1980
- sequel to the novel 'Apprentice' by the same author.
Egan, Geoff, Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, Salisbury, 2001
- in Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum Medieval Catalogue Part 3, edited by Peter Saunders. Looks at the history and archaeological evidence for the practice of cloth sealing focussing on the Salisbury area but also comparing evidence from other regions.
The Sealing of Cloth in Europe, with Special Reference to the English Evidence.
Endrei, Walter & Egan, Geoff, Textile History, 13, 1982
- a paper examining the archaeological and historical evidence for the practice of cloth sealing.
The Textile Industry
English, W., Longman, London, 1969
- a general history of the various textile industries in Britain from before the Industrial Revolution to the date of publication.
The Sutton Companion to Local History
Fryer, Stephen, Sutton Publishing, Stroud, 2004
- includes a concise account of the organisation and process of weaving woollens in pre-industrial times.
History of Witney with Notices of the Neighbouring Parishes and Hamlets
Giles, J.A., Dr, The Libraries Department, Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford, 1852
- reprint of a general history of the Witney area with some line illustrations. Some discussion of the blanket industry, mainly during the pre-industrial period (which had only just come to an end).
The Book of Witney
Gott, Charles and Joan, Barracuda Books Ltd, Buckingham, 1986
- has a chapter entitled 'Warp and Weft' devoted to the the history of wool and weaving within Witney.
Witney - a History and Celebration
Gott, Charles and Joan, Frith Book Company Ltd, Salisbury, 2004
- a history of the town of Witney, one chapter of which deals specifically with the wool and blanket trade
Mill and Chapel
Gott, Charles & Jenkins, Stanley C., Record of Witney, No. 8, Witney, 1980
- an article in the Witney and District Local History and Archaeological Society newsletter about the mill owners Charles Early and William Smith,and the Wright family who worked in the mills.
Weights and Measures
Graham, J.T., Shire Publications Ltd, Princes Risborough, 1979
- a book in the 'Shire Album' series which contains some information and photographs on wool weights.
The New Universal Encyclopedia
Hammerton, John, Sir, The Educational Book Co. Ltd, London, undated (c1952)
- source used for a 1950s definition of Witney blankets.
The Changing Face of Witney, Book One
Honey, Derek, Robert Boyd Publications, Witney, 1998
- a book focussing on different aspects of the history of Witney using old photographs and maps with the supporting text providing a context. Section one is devoted to the Early family and their blanket business, many of the people in the photographs have been identified and listed.
The Changing Face of Witney, Book Two
Honey, Derek, Robert Boyd Publications, Witney, 2000
- a further book focussing on different aspects of the history of Witney using old photographs and maps with the supporting text providing a context.
The Witney and East Gloucestershire Railway
Jenkins, Stanley C., 1975
- a short history of the branch line to Witney.
The Industrial Archaeology of Witney
Jenkins, Stanley C., Record of Witney, No. 3, Witney, 1978
The Fairford Branch
Jenkins, Stanley C., Oakwood Press, Oxford, 1985
- the definitive history of the Witney Railway and its extension to Fairford; an expanded version of the author's 1975 book.
The Blanket Mills of Witney (article in Archive Journal)
Jenkins, Stanley C., Lightmoor Press, Archive - The Quarterly Journal for British Industrial and Transport History, Issue 30, Witney, 2001
- article with photographs and illustrations dealing with the history, function and physical structure of the Witney blanket mills and factories.
The Great Fires of Witney
Jenkins, Stanley C., Historic Witney, 2002
Kelly's Directory of Berkshire and Oxfordshire 1891
Kelly's Directories Ltd., Kelly's Directories Limited, 1891
- county trade directory which includes Witney, gives a short history of the town, lists the ammenities on offer and most of the businesses and tradespeople operating there during 1891 as well as recording prominent residents.
Kelly's Directory of Berkshire, Bucks and Oxon 1903
Kelly's Directories Ltd., Kelly's Directories Limited, 1903
- county trade directory which includes Witney, gives a short history of the town, lists the ammenities on offer and most of the businesses and tradespeople operating there during 1903 as well as recording prominent residents.
A Short History of Wool and its Manufacture
Lipson, E., William Heinemann Ltd, London, 1953
- a book about the development of wool production and the manufacture of woollen textiles.
The Cloth Industry in the West of England from 1640 to 1880
Mann, J. de L., Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd, Gloucester, 1987
- while Witney is not specifically examined (although it is briefly mentioned), this book provides a wealth of information on the West of England textile industries of Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Somerset as well as more general textile information. Statistical tables relating to wages, employment, production etc., are included but no photographs or illustrations. First published in 1971.
Famous Women of Oxfordshire
Mansfield, Estrith, Slatter and Rose Ltd, Series 2, Oxford, undated (1930s?)
- contains a brief account of Anne Wenman and her family, who were wealthy wool merchants in the Witney area in the Medieval period.
Around Witney in Old Photographs
Mitchell, Chris, Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd, Gloucester, 1990
- a resource of local photographs
History of Witney
Monk, W.J., 1894
- contains a chapter on the history of woollen manufacture at Witney as well as chapters on the borough records, the church and the manor.
The Textile Industries
Murphy, William, S., Gresham Publishing Company, Vols 1-8, London, 1910
- eight volumes describing the manufacture and usage of cotton, wool and other textiles throughout history along with a contemporary account of the processes and equipment used in 'modern' manufacture. Includes many photographs and line drawings along with fold-out paper models of looms and other machinery.
- a file of original and copied newspaper articles concerning the Witney blanket industry, from local and national press dating from around 1880 to the present day. Held at the Museums Resource Centre, Standlake.
A Visit to Witney and Witney Mills
no author, 1898
- booklet produced for Charles Early and Co. Ltd to promote their firm and products consisting of a series of photographs taken at Witney Mill, Newland, New Mill and West End in Witney. The photographer was Henry W.Taunt who was based at Cowley in Oxford at the time.
The Wool Year Book 1915
no author, Marsden and Company Ltd, 1915
- the 1915 edition of an annually produced trade journal which included advertising and wool related information relevant to those in the trade.
Earlys of Witney - 300 Years of Blanket Making
no author, Holywell Press Ltd, 1974
- booklet produced for Charles Early and Marriott (Witney) Ltd to promote their firm and products; includes a brief history, a description of contemporary manufacturing processes and photographs of the interior of their 1960s premises at Witney Mill (which are now demolished).
Wool and Cloth in West Oxfordshire
no author, West Oxfordshire District Council, Witney, 1992
- leaflet; draws on the work of Richard Martin of Cotswold Woollen Weavers of Filkins, and Richard Early
All About Witney Blankets
no author, Photocrom Ltd, London and Tunbridge Wells, undated (c1910)
- booklet produced for W. Smith and Co. Ltd to promote their blanket company and products, consists of a series of photographs following through the production process.
The Oxford Mail
various authors, Oxford
- Oxford local newspaper with a broad distribution within Oxfordshire; source of some articles on the Witney blanket industry over the years.
various sources, 2004-2006
- interviews with former Witney blanket industry workers undertaken as part of the project (now available as oral history recordings - go to the Search the Collections page and search for 'audio recording'); also from conversations with some former workers who generously shared their knowledge.
Natural History of Oxfordshire
Plot, Robert, Dr, The Scholar Press, London and Menston, Yorkshire, 1677
- facsimile of the copy belonging to the Westminster City Libraries Edition, contains several pages concerning the weavers of Witney.
The Witney Blanket Industry - The Records of the Witney Blanket Weavers' Company
Plummer, Alfred, George Routledge and Sons Ltd, London, 1934
- a detailed examination and analysis of records of the Witney Blanket Weavers' Company (the local trade guild) and the history of the industry. Covers origins and organisation, the company charter, court books, letters and accounts. Has some photographs and illustrations. The first proper study of the Witney blanket industry, but deals almost entirely with the pre-industrial era.
The Blanket Makers 1669-1969
Plummer, Alfred & Early, Richard, Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd, London, 1969
- a book bought out in the Tercentennial year of Early's blanket making firm which examines the activities of Witney blanket makers from pre-industrial times up until the 1960s, concentrating mainly on the different Early family members and firms and their employees. Contains a glossary of terms of terms, photographs and illustrations. The most comprehensive book on the Witney blanket industry published to date.
The Wool Trade in English Medieval History
Power, Eileen, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1965
- transcript of a series of lectures in book form, delivered by the author in 1939 at the Oxford University. Subjects include wool taxation, trade and production, the staple system and sheep farming, does not deal specifically with Witney.
The Teasel Question, or Was it Ever True?
Raistrick, Alan S., Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, 199, 2001
- a discussion paper about the use of teasels in carding rather than raising and finishing textiles, with references to the Witney blanket industry.
A 300-Year-Old Blanket Broadloom
Raistrick, Alan S., The Spinning Wheel Sleuth, 7, Andover, USA, 2004
- a four-page discussion with photographs of the historic blanket handloom on display at Cogges Manor Farm Museum, Witney
Cogges Manor Farm Witney Oxfordshire - The Excavations from 1996-1994 and the Historic Building Analysis
Rowley and Steiner (editors), University of Oxford, Oxford, 1996
- the archaeological excavation report, putting the findings into historical context.
The Buildings of England - Oxfordshire
Sherwood, J. & Pevsner, N., Penguin Books, London, 1974
- a book in the Pevsner's Buildings of England series, with short architectural descriptions of notable Witney buildings.
Blanket Making in Witney
Smith, Jonathan, unpublished, 1999
- an illustrated computer presentation on the history of the industry written by a descendant of William Smith who was founder of one the local blanket making firms; copy held at Museums Resource Centre, Standlake
My Heart Was Among The Wool - The Autobiography of William Smith 1872
Smith, David (ed.), unpublished
- a work in progress edited and written by David Smith which includes the autobigraphy of his great-grandfather William Smith, who founded the blanket firm of William Smith and Co., and historical notes about the blanket industry written by David Smith.
Steane, John, Pimlico, London, 1996
- a narrative history of the county of Oxfordshire, including a section on the Witney blanket industry.
The Blanket. An Illustrated History of the Hudson's Bay Point Blanket
Tichenor, Harold, Hudson's Bay Company / Quantum Press, Toronto, 2002
- colourful history of the Hudsons Bay Point blanket to modern times including chapters on the weavers of Witney, interpretation of blanket labels, methods of manufacture and care instructions.
The Collector's Guide to Point Blankets of the Hudson's Bay Company and other companies trading in North America
Tichenor, Harold, Cinetel Film Productions Ltd, Canada, 2002
- well illustrated guide which includes a history of point blankets, information about their manufacture, origins, appearance, dating and collecting as well as a photographic label guide and bibliography.
A History of the County of Oxford XIV - Witney and its Townships
Townley, Simon (editor), Boydell and Brewer, Woodbridge, 2004
- a comprehensive and detailed illustrated history of the Witney area in the Victoria County History series, contains chapters dealing specifically with the wool, cloth and blanket trade from its beginnings through to its decline and provides the context to this. Full references and footnotes are provided on each page to the numerous primary and secondary documentary sources that were used to research it.
The Witney Gazette
various authors, Witney
- Witney local newspaper; source of many articles on the Witney blanket industry over the years.
Cotswold To Calais - The Golden Age of Cotswold Wool
Woodman, Marian, Corinium Museum Brief Guide, Cirencester, 1978
- booklet with illustrations giving a short history of the Cotswold trade during the Medieval period, contains a glossary
Witney as it Was
Worley, Tom, Hendon Publishing Co. Ltd, Nelson, 1981
Witney in Old Photographs
Worley, Tom, Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd., Gloucester, 1987
- a photographic resource about Witney.
The Witney District in Old Photographs
Worley, Tom, Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd., Stroud, 1992
- a photographic resource about Witney and its surrounding district.
Six Weeks' Tour through the Southern Counties
Young, Arthur, 1768
A General View of the Agriculture of Oxfordshire
Young, Arthur, David and Charles, Newton Abbott, 1809
- reprint of Young's survey of Oxfordshire's agriculture.