GROUSE ESTATES SUPPORT THE TWEED INDUSTRY TO THE TUNE OF OVER A MILLION POUNDS
The enduring tradition of
sporting estate throughout the country having their very own bespoke tweeds
continues to support the economy even when there is a poor season upon us.
Whilst tartans are associated
with Scottish families and clans, tweeds evolved as liveries to identify the
people who worked and lived on the same estate. Today, a bespoke estate tweed
acts as the modern uniform for employees, gamekeepers, ghillies and stalkers
alike and only the estate’s owners and workers are entitled to wear it.
The moorland groups which took part in the study
included the Yorkshire Dales, North Yorkshire Moors, Nidderdale and the
Tweeds allow gamekeepers and
ghillies to blend in with their surroundings and observe wildlife whilst out on
the moors. As such tweeds are designed to reflect the estate’s natural
landscape with colours and pattern varying significantly. Tweed also serves a
purpose as a uniform and allows bespoke designs in terms of pocket size and
positioning as well as tailoring preferences.
Estate members within the
Yorkshire Dales Moorland Group (YDMG), who took part in the survey, supported
the tweed industry to the tune of £128,800 which covered the 2017 and 2018
coordinator of the Yorkshire Dales Moorland Group, said: “Estate tweed
is very much made-to-measure not bought off-the-peg. It is exciting to see some
estate tweed evolve over the years whilst retaining its own identity, with
other tweeds continuing the original pattern designed over a century ago. With
estates owning their very own bespoke tweed and employees being fitted out with
a new set of tweeds every other year, sporting estates throughout the country
generate vital business for the tweed industry.”
One estate in YDMG, Conistone and Grassington Estate recently worked with Campbell’s of Beauly, renowned as the ‘guardians of tweed’, on an exclusive Harris tweed.
Sugden, owner of Campbell’s, said: “All our
bespoke tweeds are made on site, which is a real skill. We work with over 100 estates in Scotland and
England, making up 60 – 70% of our work in the tailoring department. This
generates £300,000 towards our tailoring business. 10% of those estates we
currently work with are in England and our business there is expanding, as such
we have now appointed a dedicated Campbell’s employee working with estates in
“Our retail business also benefits from the estate market through field sport guests purchasing tweed products in our shop, another very important revenue stream for us. We are closely linked to estates and without their business it would be a very different outlook for us.”
The spend by the North
Yorkshire Moors Moorland Organisation on tweed for the 2017 and 2018 seasons
combined was £76,000, and together with the other regional moorland groups,
estates’ spend on tweed proves to be a vital lifeline to the industry and many
local tweed outfitters, including the likes of Isaac Walton & Co, Carters
Country Wear and Brocklehurst of Bakewell.
Tina Brough, coordinator
of North Yorkshire Moors Moorland Organisation said:
“A full set of gamekeeper tweeds, which also includes a hat, averages
at around £1,000 per gamekeeper. This investment continues each season and it’s
this enduring tradition of estate tweed that helps to support local
communities. Without grouse shooting many local businesses would not survive.”
Isaac Walton & Co, based
in Newcastle, works with the majority of estates in Yorkshire and has been
supplying tailored gamekeepers’ suits and general shooting apparel for most of
the twentieth century and standing strong after 131 years in business.
Michele Shield, proprietor
of Isaac Walton, said: “Tweed is the ‘Rolls Royce’ of cloth,
pre-eminent due to its style and functionality. Each set of tweeds is
custom-made as it is paramount it is comfortable to work in. We work with over
125 estates on supplying tailored tweeds for numerous gamekeepers, ghillies and
stalkers as well as indoor staff and the owners themselves. I travel the length
and breadth of the British Isles fulfilling each customer’s individual
requirements. The size of the industry and the amount of people employed and
wearing tweed is staggering.
“Tweed is supplied from the
best British mills such as Lovat Mill in Hawick and Glenlyon Tweed Mill in
Aberfeldy, Perthshire, both weaving exclusive estate designs. I recently
advised Raby Estate in Teesdale who wanted to change their estate tweed and
recommended Angus Nichol in Fife. They designed a completely different and
modern tweed featuring thicket, foxglove, owl and flannel grey
with a claret and white
overcheck, in keeping with the estate topography colours. I then measured and
fitted all staff with new tweeds and it was magnificent to see the finished
gamekeeper and coordinator of the Peak District Moorland Group said:
“The spend on tweed by estates within the Peak District Moorland Group totalled
£24,000 for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, with the average cost for a three-piece
gamekeepers suit including cap being around £800 for the tailoring alone.
“Our estate members work with
local outfitters including Isaac Walton, George Goddard and Brocklehursts of
Bakewell. If in times of a very poor grouse season being experienced, some
suits may be like new for the following season, so we generally work with
outfitters every other year, however tweed should last over two good seasons
due to the durability of the fabric. It is fantastic to see an army of keepers
out on a shoot day in their estate tweed, it gives you a real sense of
belonging and we are all very proud to wear our individual estate tweed.”
Tweed was established as a tradition back in the 1800s when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert set a precedent by having a bespoke tweed designed for their staff at Balmoral.
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