Patons and Baldwins

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Patons and Baldwins
Industry Clothing
Fate Merged
Successor Coats PLC
Founded 1770s
Defunct 1961
Headquarters Alloa, UK
Products Yarn

Patons and Baldwins was a leading British manufacturer of knitting yarn. It was a constituent of the FT 30 index of leading companies on the London Stock Exchange.


The business began as two separate companies, founded in the late 1770s by James Baldwin of Halifax, England and about 1811 by John Paton of Alloa, Scotland.[1] Both individuals had separately formed their businesses using the spinning mule developed by Samuel Crompton.[1] Both companies produced mainly yarns for commercial knitting machines.[1]

The Paton family were regarded as generous benefactors in the town of Alloa, where they provided funding for a significant range of public building projects, including the town hall, public libraries, a school, a swimming pool and a gymnasium.[2]

The two companies merged in 1920,[1] and diversified into producing wool for home knitters as well as publishing knitting patterns under the "Patons Rose" and "Baldwins Beehive" and trademarks.[1]

By the mid-1930s, the company had establishments across Scotland and the North of England, including factories at Billingham and Jarrow, and also in Canada, New Zealand, and a large factory in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.[3] In 1951 the headquarters of the business was relocated from Spring Hall, Halifax to Darlington, where a large single storey factory employing 4,000 people was developed at a cost of £7.5 million.[3][4] The company branched out into various related lines of business, including the running of an angora rabbit farm in Staffordshire between 1932 and 1934,[5] and the development of new products such as nylon and Terylene.[3]

Demise of the business[edit]

The company was merged with J & P Coats Limited in 1961.[6] The Patons trademark continues in use today.[7]

The large factory in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia, a 14 hectare site, was sold in the late 1980s it passed through several owners until 1995 when it produced its last bail of yarn, losing over 2000 jobs in the process.

The yarn production facility at Alloa was finally closed in 1999.[8] The bulk of the surviving business records from the Alloa operation, together with some material from other factories, is now held by Clackmannanshire Archives in Alloa.[9]