Hatting Industry

Hatting Industry

Evidence of cap making in Coventry can traced back to medieval times, but it was Atherstone that became the centre of the hatting industry.

The origins of hat-making in Atherstone are unclear, but it seems to have developed from the 17th. century, replacing tanning as the major industrial activity, encouraged by the plentiful supply of soft water. It is argued that the demand for cheap felt hats rose because of the growth of the slave trade, and the fact that all plantation slaves were provided with a felt hat. Hat-making was a small-scale cottage industry utilising the ‘Atherstone yards’, space behind the frontages to Long Street.

An end to the slave trade and shifts in fashion required responses from the hat-makers of Atherstone, and the industry proved to very adaptable to changing circumstance. With the growth of the industry, hat factories began to be established, sometimes taking over existing industrial premises. By 1900, there were seven hat factories in the town but a century later they had all closed. Two of the last to close were Vero & Everitt and Wilson & Stafford, with the latter’s derelict premises under threat of demolition in 2019. A rare survivor is (part of) Hatton’s hat factory, Long Street.

Atherstone was not alone in the hat-making industry. Nearby Bedworth also carried on the trade, with Luckman and Pickering’s factory being the largest manufacturer, and Hall & Phillips occupying a similar position in Nuneaton. There are also isolated examples of hat manufacturing in other Warwickshire towns e.g. Lamb’s hat factory, Saltisford, Warwick.

Hatting Industry: further information

Vero, Judy in ‘Atherstone: a pleasantly placed town’ edited by Alcock & Hughes Chapter 8 ‘Hatting in Atherstone: The rise and fall of an industry’.Phillimore
Vero, JudyA Concern in Trade: Hatting and the Bracegirdles of Atherstone 1612-1872Warwickshire Books
Beesley, Ian &
Vero, Judy
Warwickshire Hatters
An evocative collection of photographs., plus commentary on the final days of the Vero and Everitt works
Ryburn Publishing
Jenking, ChristineAtherstone Hatting: 100 Years ReminiscencePrivately published
Our WarwickshirePhotographic record and some commentaryAvailable at this link
Nuneaton local industriesA survey of the various industries of Nuneaton and Bedworth, including hatting firmsAvailable at this link
DVD ‘All Atherstone Felt Was Good’A 10 minute film recording the final working days of Wilson & StaffordRural Media
YoutubeAtherstone Vero & Everitt Ltd Warwickshire Hatters Last Days Of Business Dec 87BBC Midlands Today
Richard K Morriss & Assciates: Britannia Works, Coleshill Road, AtherstoneHeritage Impact assessment of a proposed development of the Wilson & Stafford site in 2015Available at this link
SitesAll remaining sites are listed on the WIAS database under Textiles:hatsWIAS Database
VisitIn Atherstone, the surviving premises of Hattons and Wilson & Stafford can be viewed from the outside, although the latter is due for demolition in 2019/20
VisitVery small exhibition of hat-making in the townVisitor Centre, Long St., Atherstone
PhotosPhotos by M Green of the remains of Vero & Everitt and Wilson & Stafford Athersone, 2020Vero & Everitt Hatters
Wilson & Stafford Hatters