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Tanners and leather suppliers (pages 103-105)

Abbey Saddlery & Crafts Ltd:- Abbey House, Haig Road, Parkgate Industrial Estate, Knutsford, Cheshire WA16 8DX UK. Tel: +44 (0) 1565 650343. Fax: +44 (0) 1565 633825
E-mail: info@abbeysaddlery.co.uk
. Contact: Richard Brown. High quality English leathers, Leather Tools, Hardware, Webbing and Outdoor textiles form the core of Abbey's extensive product range. Their truly comprehensive range enables them to offer their clients the best possible service at competitive prices. Following their recent move to larger warehousing premises they are able to hold significant stocks of their broad based inventory. Based in the town of Knutsford, in Rural Cheshire, Abbey is ideally situated to supply throughout the UK and internationally with the M6 motorway only a few miles to the West and Manchester International Airport to the East.

A Family firm in the best sense of the word, and a very reliable company offering excellent service, Abbey was founded some seventeen years ago with the aim of servicing the country saddlery trade in England. They have grown through dedication to this aim and by applying the same principles to their ever widening client base. Personal callers are always guaranteed a warm welcome. A wide range of saddlery and belt leathers are available plus a range of others.

Abbey Saddlery has acquired B B Stanley Brothers, of Walsall, the last remaining brass buckle foundry in the UK saddlery trade. Established in 1837, Stanley’s brass foundry has built up a range of patterns over the years, covering all types and sizes of brass buckles, headcollar and harness fittings. "We are pleased to be able to maintain this essential part of the British supply chain and look forward to increasing the production very soon through better marketing and an improvement in the production techniques", said Abbey Saddlery managing director, Richard Brown.

Casting Buckles

Abbey has taken on the production, sales and assets of B B Stanley Brothers, with all sales now handled through Abbey Liston Hardware, its manufacturing division, which already includes Liston Locks – the only remaining British brass lock maker. Production remains at the Long Street factory, in Walsall, overseen by Abbey’s production manager, David Broome, and his team at Abbey Liston. (Also see ‘Trade Suppliers' for Fittings and Tools. Here) You can get directions from Local Google by clicking Here. Website Abbey Saddleey

Assbel BV (Tanner):- Heuvelstraat 5, 5101 TB Dongen, Nederland. Tel: +31 162 371371. Fax: +31 162 318883. E-mail: info@leather.nl. Contact Riph van den Assam. A group of Dutch tanneries producing quality leather for the manufacture of shoes, leathergoods and clothing. Assbel markets its leather under the brand name of "Brabant leder". Their tannery has operated as a family business in the same town in the south of the Netherlands since the early 17th century. Today, the world is their market. They export to all of Europe, the Middle East, North America and South Africa. Washable leather is their speciality. The leather will not shrink or stain when you wash the clothes in a washing machine or have them dry cleaned. Guaranteed. The thickness of the leather ranges from 0.6 mm to 1.4 mm.This site is worth visiting for any manufacturer looking for a new source of leather. Website http://www.leather.nl.

BAB Leather Products Intl:- No. 43 Vaidyanathan Street, Nungambakkam, Chennai-600 034 India. Tel: 0091-44-8321504. Fax: 0091-44-8270458. E-mail: bableather@vsnl.com. Contact: B. Suresh. This tannery produces mainly cow and buffalo hides for the leathergoods, shoe and upholstery industries. The quality of the hides is excellent and a variety of colours and finishes are available (examples shown on the site). The availability of buffalo hides is of particular interest as this is not always so, especially for the saddlery industry, as their tight grain is preferred when producing stirrup leathers. Website http://www.bableather.com

J T Bachelor & Co. Ltd:- 9-10 Culford Mews, Balls Pond Road, Islington, London N1 4DZ, UK. Tel: +44 171 254 2962, 020 7254 2962, 020 8254 8521. A reliable company supplying a wide range of leather. They stock leather skins that are sold by weight. They are also used to dealing with re-enactors and sell leather in all shapes and sizes, also buckles, rivets, punches, dyes etc. They hold a vast amount of leather in stock, plus all the tools, dyes and findings that you could wish for (almost). As far as I know they stock Russet leather for tooling and they do hold most others tannages and hides. My experience is that they are much more knowledgeable about certain types of leather working than others. Phone them first, and be very clear about what the leather will be used for. No website or catalogue. They're easy to get to by tube then bus. Nearest Station: Dalston Kingsland (See also ‘Tanners and leather suppliers’ Here.)

J & F J Baker & Co Ltd:- Hamlyns, King Street, Colyton, Devon EX24 6PD, UK. Tel: 01297 552282. Fax: 01297 553274. E-mail: info@jfjbaker.co.uk. J & F J Baker is Britain's only remaining traditional oak bark tannery. Their exclusive methods produce the richly coloured organic leather favoured by distinguished shoe makers and top stables for its quality, durability and finish. Devon river water, oak from renewable sources, and time dedicated to slow tanning (the hides are moved by hand every week for three months into progressively stronger tanning liquors) preserve the natural weave of the fibres in each hide resulting in unique hardwearing luxury.

Leather tanning process (version 1)

Descriptions 1-20 below apply to video "Leather tanning process (version 1)"

1 Raw hides from West Country beef animals are supplied by local merchants
2 The hides are hung in pits containing lime and water for two weeks to loosen the hair
3 The lime is washed out of the hide before dehairing
4 The de-hairing machine pulls out the hair
5 The de-hairing is completed by hand, over the beam, and is unique to this tannery. At this stage bellies are cut off the hides required for backs. The shoulders are cut off those required for butts. Tanning can now begin
6 The oak bark is sourced from Wales, Lake District and Forest of Dean from woodland coppiced in the traditional manner
7 The Latches are pits where the river water is mixed with ground bark. The water leaches the tannin out of the bark to make liquor over a two to five week period which pit by pit becomes stronger. When strong enough it's pumped into the Tan Yard
8 This is a close-up of the oak bark liquor
9 The Tan Yard has 72 pits each approximately 6 feet deep with varying liquor strengths. The hides are suspended from horizontal sticks and pass through a series of 12 pits with the liquor getting stronger. This stage of the tanning can last up to 3 months
10 Some of the sticks are connected to the waterwheel which rocks the hides gently and improves the liquor circulation
11 After 3 months the hides are removed from the sticks and layered flat on top of each other with ground oak bark sprinkled between them, in 7 foot deep pits. There are between 60- 80 hides per pit covered with a strong tan liquor, remaining there for a further 9 months to be fully tanned
12 Some hides are then put into large rotating drums to wash off loose bark. They are shaved at this stage to the required thickness and made into butts or backs
13 The butts are "hand-set" to smooth out wrinkles and get stretched and flattened to shape on mahogany or slate tables because of their hard flat surfaces
14 The butts are then hung up to dry for between 6-10 days, depending on the weather, in a large building known as the Monastery
15 Currying takes 3 months and the butts are constantly "hand-set" to flatten and stretch them as they are dressed with grease and fish oils. They are then damped down, greased and re-set until firm and flat and the grease content is as required
16 Leather requiring increased tensile strength, eg, stirrup leather, is dipped in hot grease
17 The butts, backs and shoulders are hand-stained 4 times over 2 days
18 The flesh side is buffed and a moss substance is added and glossed over to give a firm uniform finish. The top side is then slicked over to tighten the grain before being left to dry for 1-2 days
19 The hides get finished on both sides with a greasy mixture of tallow and oil to soften the leather and make it waterproof. The addition of warm grease and oil completes the currying process
20 The finished butts are left in piles to await either distribution or collection


Tanning Hides (version 2)

Hamlyns Colyton has been a tannery since Roman times. Rebuilt over the centuries, the current buildings are set among orchards, fields of grazing horses, and the gentle rolling hills of rural Devon countryside. Sun filters into the serenity of the tanning rooms. Hides hang in calm country air. Website J&F J Baker. Co. UK.

Bowstock Ltd. (Fittings and Tools):- The Barton, North Tawton, Devon EX20 2BB, UK. Tel; 01837 82077. Fax; 01837 82077.  E-mail: info@bowstock.co.uk. They supply tools and fittings to the Leathergoods industries, also, starter kits for the novice that includes an instruction book. Stitching equipment and threads, finishing tools and supplies, other tools and supplies, rivets, eyelets and studs, starter and stitching kits, books, buckles and fittings (sizes relate to the width of strap that the buckle can accommodate). Leather knives and shears, thonging and cords. All lace is cut from the reel, so your orders will be delivered in single lengths whenever possible. Leather dyes and finishes. Well worth a visit (see also ‘Tanners and leather suppliers' (Here). Website Bowstock Ltd

Braintan.com:- 10398 Takilma Road, Cave Junction, OR 97523, USA. Tel: (541) 592-3693. E-mail: backcountry@braintan.com. Contact: Matt Richards. 240 pages of information. They are listed here because they supply and tan buckskins. There are books, videos and tutorials on this subject should you wish to make your own leather. (See also ‘Trade Suppliers’ Here). Website Braintan.com

Bridge of Weir Leather Company Ltd:- Baltic Works, Kilbarchan Road, Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire PA11 3RH, Scotland. Tel: +44 (0) 1505 612132. Fax: +44 (0) 1505 614964. E-mail: mail@bowleather.co.uk. (They are a wholly owned subsidiary of Scottish Leather Group Ltd:- 1 Seedhill, Paisley, Renfrewshire PA1 1JL, Scotland. Tel: +44 (0) 141 847 4520, Fax: +44 (0) 141 848 7246, (See Here) see also their website http://www.scottishleathergroup.com/sti/scottishleathergroup/home.asp). This privately owned group of leather manufacturing companies employs around 500 people at locations near Glasgow, Scotland. The Group's activities span raw hide processing and tanning, as well as the manufacture of finished leather. Membership of the Group provides them with ready access to high quality hides and tanning experience, and a means of managing supply, quality and research throughout the leather manufacturing process. One of the early customers was the Ford Motor Company which used Bridge of Weir leather in the Model T from 1911.

Illustrating each of the market sectors to which the Company supplies finished leather

Click for Bridge of Weir pdf colour chart

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Building upon the natural advantages of pure water, rich pastures and prime beef herds, Bridge of Weir Leather Company Ltd has grown into a major supplier of finished upholstery leather to the automotive, aviation, marine and contract design industries. Bridge of Weir leather is also used in the British Library, the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, Glasgow City Chambers and countless other public buildings and famous hotels around the world. The Company has won three Queen's Awards for export achievement in 1985, 1996 and 2000. The business today remains privately owned and its success is due to the commitment of the generations of employees many of whom were born and bred in Bridge of Weir.
Website Bridge of Weir Leather. Co. Ltd (Bridge of Weir is http://www.bowleather.co.uk/ge of Wt have a train station so if you intend to travel by train, you can change to a bus at Paisley or Glasgow. Several buses run to Bridge of Weir from Paisley and Glasgow. If travelling by car, Bridge of Weir is easily accessible from the A737. Local Bus and Train Services: All telephone enquiries for public transport timetable information should be directed to Traveline Scotland on 0870 608 2 608, 7am to 10pm, 7 days a week.)

Buckskin Fur & Leather Co:- (A division of Canor Development Corp Ltd., a subsidiary of Hide Depot International Inc.) Calgary Distribution Centre, 5220-1A Street SE, Calgary, Alberta T2H 1J1, Canada. Tel: (403) 253-3459. Fax: (403) 252-4270. Toll free USA and Canada 1-888-723-0806. Order desk hours: Monday to Saturday, 10:00am to 5:00pm MST. E-mail: buckskin@buckskinleather.com. Contact: Michael Schluessel. This company is prepared to sell quantities or a single hide to a hobbyists and leather crafters, also to re-sellers and distributors. They will supply manufacturers, and offer discounts on volume. Custom colouring and colour matching is also available. Distribution inquiries are invited from tanners across the world for cost effective supplies and job lots. Website Buckskin

Joseph Clayton & Sons (Chesterfield) Ltd. (Tanner):- Clayton Street Tannery, Chesteeld, Derbyshire S41 ODU, UK. Tel: + 44 (0) 1246-232863. Fax: +44 (0) 1246-207807. E-mail: office@claytonleather.com. Contact: Barrie Birkin (General Manager). The company was started over 160 years ago. Their experience coupled with modern technology and a 21st Century approach keeps them among the leading UK companies in this field.

Clayton Leather

A wide and varied selection of leather is available. Choose from, industrial leathers, saddlery leathers, footwear leathers, medieval leathers (for re-enactors), limed rawhide (For drums etc.) The site is easy to navigate and a leather thickness table is also supplied on-line. (See also Samuel Sharp (Curriers) Ltd page 104) Website Clayton

Clyde Leather Co:- Broadlie Works, Neilston, Glasgow G78 3AB, UK. Tel: 0141-881-4558. Fax 0141-881-0522. Email paul@bevanharris.co.uk. Contact: Paul Harris. The Company has been producing fine suedes and pigmented splits since the 1950s. Specialising in high quality split leathers they offer the following: industrial leathers, leathers and suedes for belts, shoes, fancy goods, keyrings, highland dress, slippers, dance shoes, orthopaedic leathers, leather-goods. They supply leather to colleges, universities, schools and scouting groups. With over 100 embossing plates they have a design that matches most, including exotic animal prints. There is no minimum order. Quantities are from either a single bend (6-9sq ft) or a whole butt (16-22sq ft). With thicknesses from 0·9mm to 3·5mm. Website Clyde Leather (bevanharris.co.uk) still under construction.

William Cowley:- Parchment Works, 97 Caldecote Street, Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire MK16 0DB, UK. Tel: +44 1908 610038. Fax: +44 1908 611071. William Cowley was started in 1860 and formally established in 1870 by the grandfather of current senior partner Majorie Visscher. It is the only parchment maker in Britain and one of only three or four worldwide.

William Cowley, the last of the UK's vellum producers

Manufacturer and supplier of quality parchment and vellum, William Cowley is one of the world's leading manufacturers. A wide range of quality vellums and parchments are produced by skilled craftsman, using traditional methods, for a variety of different purposes These include: Certificates and book pages. University diplomas. Recording copies of British Acts of Parliament. Repairs to historic documents such as the Domesday Book. Calligraphy and heraldic painting. Bookbinding. Furniture and decorative panels. Drumheads. Printing. Website William Cowley

Devonia Products Ltd:- (Tanners and suppliers of quality sheepskins.) Mardle Way, Buckfastleigh, Devon TQ11 0AG. Tel: (01364) 643355. Fax: (01364) 643834. E-mail: sales@devoniaproducts.co.uk. Devonia sheepskins have been produced in the small town of Buckfastleigh on the edge of Dartmoor, in Devon, for some 200 years. The tannery has always procured the highest grade lambskins from locally bred flocks of sheep. The combination of traditional processing techniques handed down over the years to the current highly skilled craftsmen and the use of the local lambskins makes the Devonia sheepskin a unique and sought after product. The small size of the company creates a friendly atmosphere amongst the employees which is present in dealings with customers and general enquiries. The Company offers a contract dressing service (Tanning of skins for the private individual) enabling the individual to have their own sheepskins (or other similar sized skins) tanned to the normal Devonia standard.


Devonia Sheepskins Tannery

The Devonia Sheepskins Visitor Centre opened for the first time in April 2010 enabling visitors to see how a Devonia sheepskin rug is made and also view old machinery and a selection of different types of sheepskins including some from pure and rare breeds. You must see the White Face Dartmoor sheepskin rug.....its got the wow factor! Entry is free and there is plenty of on site parking. You can also take look at the various sheepskin products in our shop. These include sheepkin rugs, cushions, pouffes, gloves, mitts, hats, slippers, moccasins, dusters and chamois. You can telephone the Devonia Sheepskins Visitor Centre direct on 01297 302555. Website Devonia Products Ltd.

Dickens Brothers Ltd:- 69/71 Kettering Road, Northampton, NN1 4AP. Tel: 01604 636537. Fax: 01604 636537. E-mail: dickensbrothers@btinternet.com. Dickens Brothers is one of the oldest established leather manufacturers and merchants in the UK. Their speciality is vegetable tanned kipsides and cowcalf leather. They are experienced in providing leather for a vast range of uses and can advise on suitability for your chosen product. About half of their output is exported. Dickens Brothers Ltd is a small family company, which has been producing leather since 1897. The founder of Dickens Brothers, William John Dickens was born in 1860, the son of a village shoemaker. John Dickens (his preferred choice of name) spent all of his early working years in various leather related trades before deciding to set up his own business in 1897.

Two years later he decided that new premises were necessary and acquired land to have a purpose built factory situated in Kettering Road, Northampton. This was completed in 1900 and this where they still produce leather today. During a century which has seen many industrial disputes in the wider economy, Dickens Brothers was hardly affected. In fact in the general strike of 1926 just a handful of days was lost. At least ten Dickens Brothers employees clocked up more than 50 years service during the century of existence. The spirit of the company has always been that the directors worked along side the employees and today Brian Dickens can be seen in the warehouse amongst bales of rough leather and horses of finished leather. Website Dickens Brothers Ltd.

Eagle Ottawa (Tanner):- Headquarters, 2930 Auburn Road, Rochester Hills, M1 48309, USA. Tel: 1-248-853-3122. Eagle Ottawa is among the oldest automotive leather suppliers in the world. Their history begins long before the invention of the automobile. They are a large and long established company producing upholstery leather for use in the automobile industry. Eagle Ottawa has maintained a longstanding tradition of blending "old world" craftsmanship with leading-edge technology to create truly innovative products.

the headquarters of Eagle Ottawa

With their unique blend of technical and artistic capabilities, they're able to provide the exclusive and detailed leathers that automotive designers demand. Their customized grains, textures, aromas, and high-durability performance often surprise and delight the most discerning of tastes. In addition to leather for seat covers, they produce products for nearly every other interior application: door panels, consoles and instrument panels. They also provide special services, including leather perforation, foam lamination, embroidery, component wrapping and sewing. They also have worldwide outlets. Website Eagle Ottawa

Marcus Gear Ltd:- 64-66 Hollyhedge Lane, Walsall, West Midlands WS2 8PZ, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 1922 632329. Fax: +44 (0) 1922 631717. E-mail: richard@marcusgear.co.uk. They supply customers in over 20 countries and their leathers are to be found in the finest saddles and bridles, as well as a wide range of giftware, furniture, clothing leather, flooring and architectural products, to name only a few. They deal with many of the top tanneries in the world, and through their bespoke service to all their customers they ensure that they receive the ideas, products and quality that they deserve. The range of leathers, colours, textures and quality that they are able to offer ensures that Marcus Gear remains the first choice for any user or designer of leather products or applications. Website Marcus Gear.

Hanson Tower Ltd:- Hanson House, Knights Road, Strood, Rochester, Kent ME2 2JH, UK. Tel: 01634-713363 or Fax: 01634-721099. E-mail: sales@hansontower.com. Contact: Paul Hanson. This reliable company offers a wide choice of hides for the saddlery and leathergoods industry. They supply reputable companies such as Tanner & Krolle. The following leathers are available, bridle, russet, bag and cloak hide. They only supply quality leather. Website Hanson-Tower

Harmatan Leather Ltd. (Tanner):- Westfield Avenue, Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire NN10 8AX, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 1933-412151/312471. Fax: +44 (0) 1933-412242. E-mail: marc@harmatan.co.uk. Contact: Marc Lamb. This company, established in the early 1980s, produce the finest quality smooth-grained and vegetable tanned goat and calf skins for the bookbinding and leathergoods industries. They distribute worldwide and there are facilities for ordering a brochure plus an online order form. Their goat skins come from the Kono and Sakoto regions of Nigeria that are renowned for their beautiful natural grains. Website Harmatan and Oakridge Leathers

Click for Harmatan Order Form

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Hewit & Sons Ltd. (Tanner):- Kinauld Leather Works, Currie, Edinburgh EH14 5RS, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 131-449-2206. Fax: +44 (0) 131-451-5081. E-mail: sales@hewit.com. This tanner and leather dresser produces high quality leather for the bookbinding and leather goods industry (vegetable tanned and special finishes). Calf, goat, skiver (sheep etc) are available in a variety of colours. They sell by the square metre and a useful conversion table is available for conversion to square feet. This is an excellent and reliable company. (See also ‘Trade Suppliers' Here). Website Hewit & Sons Ltd.

Horween Leather Company:- 2015 Elston Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614. Tel: (773) 772-2026. Fax: (773) 772-9235. Sales Inquiries:- E-mail: john@horween.com or nick@horween.com. General Inquiries:- E-mail: nick@horween.com. Founded in 1905, Horween Leather Company is one of the oldest continuously running tanneries in the United States, and the only still located in Chicago, Illinois.

Arnold “Skip” Horween III Chairman & President

Thomas Cullito Vice President – Finance

Christopher Koelblinger Vice President – Production

John T. Culliton Director – Global Sales / President – Global Solutions

Belinda J. Knopf Director of Marketing and Product Development

Nick Horween Director and Quality Management

Dan Cordova Production Manager

We offer n array of tannages utilizing primarily cowhide and horsehide with smaller quantities of calf and bison hides also used. Our leather is used in many products including shoes, sporting goods, bags, belts, and other types of apparel and accessories. We are well known for our production of the finest Genuine Horween® Shell Cordovan, professional football leather, and Chromexcel®, among other leathers. (see also) Website Horween.

Hought Fine Art & Leather (Associated Site):- P.O. Box. 2115 McKinleyville, CA 95519, USA. Tel: 707-839-1164 / 1-800-839-1164. Fax: 1-707-839-1871. E-mail: hought@humboldt1.com. Contact: Gail Hought. Supplying specially prepared kangaroo hides suitable for cutting into braiding strips. (Can also be supplied ready cut in the form of  kits for projects. (Ideal for beginners).  (See also 'Trade Suppliers' Here). Website http://www.hought.com.

Hutchings & Harding Ltd:- 163 High Street, Sawston, Cambridge, Cambs CB22 3HN. Tel: +44 (0)1223 832281, Fax: +44 (0)1223 836401. E-mail: chamois@chamois.com. They were established in 1897 and remain a private company. Modern technology has been harnessed to the traditional skills and craftsmanship of the leather industry, providing a top quality Chamois Leather product with a personal customer service.

Aerial view of factory in 1977 Aerial view of factory in 2007

Based in Sawston, just 7 miles from the famous University town of Cambridge in Eastern England and 50 miles from London, their Tannery dates back to 1645. Hutchings & Harding continue to excel as a Tannery for Chamois Leather, Skiver Leather and Pickled Grains. Today, the main activity of the company is the tanning of selected sheep pelts from around the world – exactly as it was when first established over a century ago. Modern machinery, technology and a skilled workforce combine in the production of their leather. They have a pride in their product and service that enables them to claim with justification "The World's Finest Chamois". Website http://www.chamois.com


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