Witney Blanket Project website logo Witney Blanket Project website logo

James Marriott and Sons Ltd

Marriott's Mount Mills (copyright Aerofilms Ltd).
Marriott's Mount Mills (copyright Aerofilms Ltd).

Dates of operation: 1904

Origins and history
The Marriott family were involved in the woollen industry in Witney for hundreds of years. A William Marriott is known to have been working in the trade locally in 1628, and over 300 years later the family was still making blankets. John Marriott (born 1708) was so successful in the family business that he became known locally as the 'Great Blanket Maker' and was elected Master of the Company of Blanket Weavers in 1766.

From the 17th century we can find examples of the Marriott and Early families working together as well as examples of the two families intermarrying.

By the early 19th century the Marriott family's only connection with blanket manufacturing was in dyeing, their other occupations being coal merchants and farmers. As the major manufacturers took on more business in-house, however, the Marriott's ceased even to be dyers during the second half of the 19th century [1].

James Marriott decided to re-enter the blanket business in 1897 and began to build Mount Mill which was completed in 1901, only three years before his death. His four sons succeeded him in the business and by 1909 Marriott's had became a private limited company, although it was still very much a family firm in character. Marriott's became a public limited company in 1948, three years before Early's [2].

In October 1960 Marriott's concluded negotiations with Early's to merge and become Charles Early and Marriott (Witney) Ltd.

Products and operations
Marriott's generally concentrated on the wholesale blanket business, in contrast to Early's who tended to deal with retail. Some of their blankets were tabbed with a 'Marriott's' label rather than the name of their customers though, so presumably a proportion were made for the retail trade. Unlike some other Witney blanket makers Marriott's only made blankets and no other products.

Marriott's operated mainly from Mount Mill, adjacent to Witney railway goods station, which was a fully integrated factory that dealt with all the processes of blanket making. From 1924 however, they also acquired Worsham Mill, which they used mainly for willeying, spinning and warehousing. Worsham Mill came into its own after the fire at Mount Mill in 1953, when it was pressed into use for carding, spinning and warping while Mount Mill was being refitted.