Harris Tweed

Harris Tweed  – how is it made and where does it come from.

Harris Tweed, (Clò Mór or Clò Hearach in Gaelic) is a tweed cloth that is handwoven by islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, finished in the Outer Hebrides, and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides. Very often the weaving shed is beside the house where the weaver lives. Thus we see that the Harris Tweed Industry was originally a cottage industry, producing an article made entirely by hand.

The product was marketed as a result of the activities of the individuals and agencies mentioned above and this was done from the middle of the 19th century, and by the turn of the century Harris Tweed had gained for itself a very good reputation. The cloth was attracting attention for its characteristics and good quality, and therefore it was able to create its own market on its own merits.

The necessity for a protective Trade Mark was appreciated early in the 20th century. Eventually the Harris Tweed Association Ltd was formed in 1909 and subsequently the Orb definition Trade Mark was registered in 1910. The Orb Trade Mark was of course originally confined, by its definition, to the article made entirely by hand.

The Lewis mills soon realised they could manufacture Harris Tweed as well as spin yarn for the islanders and so the Lewis spinners began to make Harris Tweed on their own account during the second decade of the 20th century. It was however, after the First World War before the Lewis spinners produced a significant volume of cloth. The bulk of the cloth produced before 1920 was still produced by the crofters and small producers.

By the early 1930s the Hebridean spinners had grown into a powerful force and they were no longer content with the use of the term Harris Tweed, they now felt they should have the use of the Orb Trade Mark as well.

In 1934 the Board of Trade granted an amendment to the definition attached to the Orb Trade Mark, allowing the application of the Trade Mark to cloth made from  Hebridean mill spun yarn.



Author: Angus Macleod

Date: 1975

Original document title: Early History of Harris Tweed

Notes: The Hattersley looms were originally from Lancashire.

They produce cloth 75CM wide due to the width of the loom. All Hand woven. This is classed as single width. The mills produce double width.