History of Beehive
Established in 1785, the business began as two separate companies, founded by James Baldwin of Halifax and his Scottish counterpart John Patons.
Both individuals had each formed their businesses using the spinning-mule developed by Samuel Compton, which revolutionised the manufacturing industry and textile trade.
In 1920 the two companies, J. and J. Baldwin’s Wool and Paton’s Yarn’s, individually known for their commercial wool then merged, creating Patons and Baldwins and diversified into producing wool for home knitters as well as publishing knitting patterns under the “Patons Rose” and “Baldwins Beehive” trademarks.
These went under the trademarks Patons Rose and Baldwins Beehive. During the 1930s the company expanded in Scotland and the North of England, including at Billingham and Jarrow. Operations were also set up in Canada and New Zealand. Then In 1951 headquarters of the business was relocated from Halifax, in West Yorkshire to Darlington.
Building had begun for the Darlington move in 1945, six years before, and the cost on completion was £7.5m. This, however, became home to Europe’s largest wool manufacturing plant – indeed was recognised as the world’s most modern and largest single storey plant of its kind upon opening. It had its own railway sidings.
It was also Darlington’s first major post-war industrial development, so Andrea believes. At peak, the firm employed more than 4,000 people and was an original member of the FT 30 index of leading companies on London’s stock exchange. Its diversifications included an angora rabbit farm in Staffordshire and involvements in nylon and Terylene development. In 1961, however, the company merged with J & P Coats Ltd, and today Lingfield Point, a thriving business park, marks the site of 107 acres once occupied by Patons and Baldwins.
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