Uniforms are grist to the mill for family business

Historic scarlet cloth made at a Leeds textile mill will be on global display amid the pomp and pageantry of next week’s climax to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Guards regiments will be kitted out in Hainsworth’s famous scarlet material as they line The Mall and march in front of Buckingham Palace during ceremonies expected to be watched on television by a worldwide audience of billions.

The family-run business, based at Spring Valley Mills in Pudsey, has been supplying the Royal family and UK armed forces with material for the best part of two centuries.

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Demand for its eye-catching red cloth doubled and production has had to be increased in the run-up to the milestone anniversary.

Managing director Tom Hainsworth, who represents the seventh generation of his family at the helm of the 229-year-old business, said it was a huge honour for the firm to be part of such a momentous occasion.

“We are hugely proud of our history and our prestigious connections with Royalty in this country and in countries around the world.

He added: “The Diamond Jubilee celebrations will be watched by billions of people across the globe and it gives everyone associated with our business tremendous pride to know that Hainsworth cloth is on parade.”

Last April, three billion people around the world watched as Prince William wore an Irish Guards mounted officer’s uniform made from the eye-catching red fabric when he married Kate Middleton.

His brother and best man Prince Harry’s Blues and Royals officer’s uniform was also made from Hainsworth cloth.

Three decades earlier, their father Prince Charles wore a full dress naval commander’s uniform tailored from Hainsworth material to marry the late Princess Diana in 1981.

Hainsworth has been supplying its cloth to the UK armed forces since the Duke of Wellington‘s “thin red line” faced Napoleon’s army at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Red was the standard uniform colour for the British infantry until the late 19th century. The colour was said to boost morale and patriotism as well as allow troops to distinguish friend from foe. UK soldiers fought in scarlet tunics for the last time at the Battle of Ginnis in the Sudan in 1885.

Today, the red tunics are the military’s ceremonial dress and the material is still made to strict standards demanded by the Ministry of Defence.

Mr Hainsworth said: “The cloth we make for the Queen’s Guards is a woollen felted fabric and it tends to last quite a long time, so the reason we supply it for these uniforms is that we are offering continuity.

“It is all about the consistency of the product and shade, so that it is the same every year for generations.”

The Queen’s Guards will wear the Hainsworth cloth on Tuesday for the climax of the Jubilee celebrations.

Mr Hainsworth, who will be in London with his family over the Jubilee weekend, said: “I will be immensely proud. My little son calls it ‘Hainsworth on parade’. It is nice to be involved in such a thing.”

The Guards regiments will also be dressed in their red tunics on Saturday in the first of two rehearsals for the annual Trooping the Colour parade, which marks the Queen’s official birthday on June 16.

As well as taking centre stage at Royal ceremonies, Hainsworth’s cloth takes pride of place behind closed doors at the Queen’s residences.

The business also has the Royal Warrant for supplying interior fabrics for Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

Hainsworth’s Royal connections were further strengthened when the company bought out William Lupton and Co from the great-grandparents of Kate Middleton in 1958.

The firm belonged to the Duchess of Cambridge’s great-grandmother, Olive Lupton.

Hainsworth, which today employs 190 people and had a turnover of £14m last year, is also marking the Jubilee with a limited edition throw, created for its recently-launched luxury homeware range Scarlet and Argent.

The blankets, in muted Union flag colours, have been snapped up by John Lewis department stores.

Mr Hainsworth said: “We thought it was fitting that we should pay our own special tribute.”