Patons and Baldwins
The business began as two separate companies, founded in the late 1770s by John Paton of Alloa, Scotland and James Baldwin of Halifax, England. Both individuals had separately formed their businesses using the spinning mule developed by Samuel Crompton. Both companies produced mainly yarns for commercial knitting machines.
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.
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. In 1951 the headquarters of the business was relocated from Halifax to Darlington, where a large single storey factory employing 4,000 people was developed at a cost of £7.5 million. The company branched out into various related lines of business, including the running of an angora rabbit farm in Staffordshire between 1932 and 1934, and the development of new products such as nylon and Terylene.
Demise of the business
The large factory in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia, a large 14 hectare site, was sold in the late 1980s it passed though several owners until 1995 when it produced its last bail of yarn, losing over 2000 jobs in the process. The building lay abandoned for a number of years, until the Door of Hope Christian Church purchased the site in 2002 to convert it into a church and community centre.
The yarn production facility at Alloa was finally closed in 1999. 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.