Livingstone Textiles is celebrating 40 years of trading in Bridport with a week of events starting on 17th October.
The business was started by Mr Arthur Lloyd and his wife in 1971 when they moved from Lancashire to the area. Mr Lloyd had managed the Livingstone Textile Mill in Burnley – hence the name of the firm.
Livingstone Textiles was the first tenant of the then newly formed Haywards Estate, taking over the former premises of the net makers Sidney Gale in St. Michaels Lane.
Initially the business concentrated on mail order supply of dress fabrics, and over the years developed the retail and curtain fabric side of the business. Arthur Lloyd was joined by his son John and daughter-in-law Cheryl in 1972 and together they expanded the business to be one of the largest fabric suppliers in the South West. At one time the firm had 21 staff members.
Livingstone’s had a tradition, carried on to this day, of sourcing different novel fabrics where ever possible. This included hiring a Luton van once a month and filling it with fabric bought directly from the mills of Lancashire and Yorkshire. Sadly most of these mills will have now closed, but the firm still prides itself on stocking many different fabric types with a myriad of uses.
40 years of trading means that huge numbers of people from Devon, Dorset and Somerset as well as visitors to the area have “climbed the stairs” to Livingstone Textiles – often accompanying their mothers or grandmothers! There are also several generations of ‘Saturday girls’, many of whom made careers in textiles and design. As part of their celebrations the firm wish to record the memories of customers and staff for posterity. These thoughts will be professionally recorded in conjunction with the Bridport Museum and archived as an audio history for future generations. Former uses of the building for net and rope making will also be included.
The celebrations will take the form of a ‘Livingstone Memories’ week commencing on October 17th where memorabilia will be on display. Anyone who can loan a photograph or small item for the display is invited to bring it to the shop. All items will be returned after the end of the exhibition.
The week will also include a free tour of the building to see behind the scenes. The building Livingstones inhabits includes what is believed to be one of only two covered rope walks still left in Bridport.
Thursday is ‘Bring Your Item’ day. Anyone who brings in an item made with supplies from Livingstone Textiles any time in the last 40 years will have their photograph taken with their item and receive 10% off fabric bought or ordered on the day (up to maximum of £50 discount). There is late opening until 6.30pm to allow those who are working during the day to take advantage of this offer.
New owners Tom Baldry and Megan Standage firmly believe that the future is built on the past, and hope that the town will join them in celebrating Livingstone Textiles rich history.