Our company's fine history is just one of many features that come together to make Abraham Moon products extra special, and is something we're rightfully proud of. From supplying the fabric for a growing Leeds market throughout the 1800's to supplying the major fashion houses of modern times, this rich tapestry all comes together to create quite a story over the past 175 years.
From Humble Beginnings to International Renown
1837 - A memorable year in at least 2 respects. It was the year in which Queen Victoria succeeded to the British throne and it was also the year in which Abraham Moon & Sons was founded. Abraham Moon, a considerable standing in the community of Guiseley, on the Northern fringes of Leeds and the Southern fringes of the Yorkshire Dales, supplied many local families with yarn to weave cloth on hand looms in their homes. When the cloth was woven he would collect the pieces, paying the weavers for their work. The cloth was then scoured (washed) locally and hung out to dry in the surrounding fields. Abraham would then transport the pieces by horse and cart to Leeds for sale in the market.
1868 - Abraham had a three storey mill built on Netherfield Road in Guiseley, less than 300 yards from his house at the top of Oxford Avenue. The mill had an abundant source of local water which was soft and ideal for scouring (washing) and other processes necessary in woollen manufacture. Today we still use the pure water springs underneath the mill for scouring; as manufacturing technology progresses with time it's these simple historic details that make our fabrics special.
The newly built railway to Leeds ran directly behind the mill which had its own sidings. This proved an invaluable form of transport both inward (wool for processing, coal for power) and outward (distribution of cloth to the expanding consumer network). The company’s records show exports to both Western Europe and Japan as early as the 1890’s.
1877 - In August 1877 Abraham Moon lost his life in an accident. A report from the local newspaper at the time sets the scene:
“Mr Moon was attending the annual Yeadon feast in his horse-drawn carriage. When a band struck up the startled horse bolted down Henshaw Lane. Two passengers managed to jump clear and were unharmed but Mr Moon stayed in his carriage trying to calm his horse. In its panic it tried to turn into a familiar lane where there was no room for the carriage. The vehicle demolished part of a wall into which Abraham Moon was thrown. He died soon afterwards from a head injury”. The article goes on to report that the horse survived the accident!
After his death, Abraham’s son Isaac succeeded him in the business, which continued to flourish throughout the remainder of the Victorian era.
1902 - The original multi-storey mill burned to the ground. Undeterred Isaac Moon built a much larger single storey mill. By this time the mill had become fully vertical, meaning all manufacturing processes took place on one site – from raw wool through dyeing, blending, carding, spinning, warping weaving, and finally finishing the fabrics. We are one of the very few remaining vertical woollen mills left in Great Britain today. Isaac Moon took the business forward until his death in 1909.
Design and pattern books which date back to the early part of the Twentieth Century tell a story in themselves. Fashion fabrics from 1900 to 1913 gradually give way to army shirting, trouserings and greatcoat cloths from 1914 which in turn are replaced by the emerging fashions of the 20s. Today designers use the old pattern books for inspiration with new designs and the re-creation of retro looks.
1920 - The Moon family sold their shares in the company in order to pursue other interests. The shares were purchased by Charles H Walsh who was both designer and mill manager at the time with the borrowed sum of £33,000, the equivalent of £1.25m today. Charles' death in 1924 saw the company passed onto his son Frank, who was already in the business.
1954 - Frank’s nephew Arthur took control, only retiring as chairman in 2010. The current managing director is John Walsh, the fourth generation of the family which succeeded the Moon dynasty. 1952 also marked a further extension of the mill, still located at the original site on Netherfield Road, making more room for the warping and weaving of the fabrics.
1990 - Throughout the 1990's, wool faced increased competition from man-made fabric. While many mills tried (and failed) to compete on price, Moon focused on quality and concentrated on the luxury market, taking advantage of the manufacturing control and consistency that only a vertical mill can offer. Our customer list includes major international brands such as Burberry, Paul Smith, and Ralph Lauren.
2009 – Bronte Tweeds was purchased by Abraham Moon & Sons. Already a well-known producer of throws and tartans, the combination of Bronte's extensive market knowledge and our dedicated in-house design team and manufacturing versatility has seen our accessories division grow exponentially in the years since. Bronte Tweeds was rebranded as Bronte by Moon in 2013.