Burnley Civic Trust Heritage Image Collection

One Of Country's Oldest Of Trades

2 Mar 1971
F.M.C. Burnley Fellmongery Limited, Plumbe Street, Burnley

Media Ref: BE71ng47122
One Of Country's Oldest Of Trades
One Of Country's Oldest Of Trades (1) One Of Country's Oldest Of Trades (1) One Of Country's Oldest Of Trades (1)

Mr. Pat Hird, wool production and sales manager, with some of the men who pull the wool from the skins, and grade it. He came to Burnley from York when his family fellmongering business was taken over by F.M.C. and is responsible for removal of wool from the pelt, drying and classifying it into 40 grades, then binning and packing it.

From the seventh of an Express weekly industrial feature "We Can Make It" by Allan Halstead. The series outlines each firm's history and development and tells the story of ordinary people. It was linked with a competition "Unsung Hero '71" with a prize of a holiday in Ireland with a companion.

It is often surprising how men in a tough or dangerous occupation develop a special pride in their job. You soon notice this among Burnley's fellmongers - the men who take the skins from slaughtered sheep and produce wool and pelts. So far as Burnley is concerned that now means a subsidiary of the Fatstock Marketing Corporation, a nation-wide group specialising in various aspects of meat production and sale. They took over the Plumbe Street premises of Samuel Smith and Sons, a firm founded in Colne over a century ago and have just acquired the adjoining Dean Mill which gives double the working space to keep pace with a 300 per cent increase in the number of sheepskins processed over the past few years.

Fellmongering claims to be the oldest trade and has certainly been practised locally since the first sheep roamed our hillsides, the wool went to Yorkshire for weaving cloth and the pelts for a variety of uses at tanners' hands. Once all the skins came from within 25 miles but now they are bought nation-wide and internationally. The firm is building up a new trade with Eastern Europe where the winter climate calls for warm sheepskin and wool garments. The majority of the wool still goes to Yorkshire mills, but pelts are sold further afield, with Italy and Germany taking increased amounts.

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