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A Witney blanket timeline

Witney events

World events

1086 the Domesday survey records 250 people as living in Witney

1066 Battle of Hastings; Normans begin conquest of England

1223 first fulling mill recorded in Witney

1215 King John signs the Magna Carta

1530 Witney had about 1000 inhabitants and another 1000 in its outlying hamlets

1509 Henry VIII crowned king

1584 the Earl of Leicester buys 30 blankets from Collier of Witney

1558 Elizabeth I becomes queen

1594 an 'alnager' or cloth searcher was appointed to work in Witney to inspect the woollen goods made there

1588 defeat of the Spanish Armada

1641 Witney blanket makers petition the House of Lords to protest that they were being overcharged by a blanket inspector

1642-1645 Civil War in England

1677 Dr Plot calls Witney the 'most eminent town for blanket making' in England

1666 Great Fire of London

1681 First recorded trade with Hudson Bay Company

1711 The local trade guild known as the Witney Blanket Weavers' Company was formed

1733 John Kay's flying shuttle invented

1764 James Hargreaves invented the spinning jenny, which was capable of spinning several threads at once

1769 Richard Arkwright invented a cotton spinning frame that used water power

1779 Samuel Crompton invented the spinning mule

1782 The first piece of automated machinery arrives in Witney in the form of a 'rowing' machine for raising the nap on blankets

1785 first power loom invented by Edmund Cartwright

c.1800 flying shuttle first used in Witney

1793-1815 Napoleonic Wars

1818 John Early tours textile manufacturers in northern England to investigate and buy the latest machinery

1820 George IV becomes king

1833 a law was passed in Parliament that laid down a nine hour working day for children under the age of 12, they were also entitled to two hours schooling each day

1838 the Assistant Handloom Weavers Commission arrives in Witney to investigate working conditions

1837 Victoria crowned queen

1850 only six major blanket manufacturers now control nearly all of the Witney trade

1851 William Smith sets up his blanket business

1851 Great Exhibition opens at Crystal Palace

c.1857 William Smith installs first steam engine in Witney

c.1858 power looms first installed in Witney Mill

1861 the Witney Railway reaches the town

1862-1865 American Civil War

1874 working hours for women and children were lowered to 10 a day maximum, children under 14 were only to work for half a day

1900 Mount Mills (Marriott's) was built

1901 Edward VII becomes king

1905 major fire at Witney Mill

1906 from fleece to blanket record in 10 hours and 27 minutes, set by Early's

1908 legal ruling that blankets marked as 'Witney' must be made in Witney

1914-1918 First World War

1930 Walker's open Crofts Mill

1929 Wall Street Crash and Great Depression

1940 Mount Mills sustains bomb damage

1939-1945 Second World War

1960 Charles Early and Marriott merge

1952 Elizabeth II becomes queen

1965 Fiberweaving introduced to Witney

1969 Early's tercentenary; blanket-in-a-day record broken

1969 Neil Armstrong becomes first man to walk on the Moon

1975 Bridge Street Mill (Smith's) closes down

1980 Crofts Mill (Walker's) closes

1979 Mrs Thatcher elected first British woman Prime Minister

1985 Mount Mills (Early's) closes

2002 Early's, the last blanket making company in Witney, closes down (Witney Mill)