Whaleys was established in 1869 by Mr Samuel Whaley, about whom not a great deal is known. The activities of his enterprise at that time were silk and jute weaving, with one floor processing textile sacks and bags.
The original premises were off Leeds Road in Bradford, West Yorkshire, before moving to Bolton road in 1908, finally taking over its present site, Harris Court Mills in 1973.
Whaleys can, with some justification, call themselves a family firm, since Harry Jowett, who took over the reins in 1900, was the great-grandfather of the present Managing Director. During the First World War, weaving was suspended and silk making abandoned. When normal work recommenced an industrial fabric section was established to furnish the textile finishing industry.
Just before Harry Jowett's death in 1921, the firm was taken over by his two sons in law, Fred Popplewell (MD) and James Robert McIlvenny and after the last war, joined by the sons of James Robert, Harry and James Fredrick, who is currently chairman, assisted by his son and managing director, Peter, now representing the fourth generation.
Over the years the company has expanded and diversified. It has introduced a department which specialises in producing theatre curtains along with a range of Flameproofed fabrics, in addition to a large fashion fabric section supplying fabric designers direct, with a separate mail order company. It is interesting to note that this includes offering Silk again, after an absence of 70 years!
The sewing factory manufactures all types of bags for the textile and coal industries. Currently, over 20% of the company's products are exported world-wide, particularly to North America and Europe.
Whaleys is a company that has seen many changes and in fact implemented many itself in order to grow. It is this diversity and foresight that will lead it well into the next millenium.