Gloving in yeovil

clothier, giles & co

Glove Manufacturers of Addlewell Lane


In 1889 George Giles, a leather tanner, and his partner glove manufacturer Frederick Clothier (father of Sidney Clothier, also a glove manufacturer and four-times Mayor of Yeovil), formed a company called Clothier Giles with a factory in Addlewell Lane next to Dodham Brook. The company was, to a degree, self-sufficient in that the raw leather was processed and the finished gloves were produced in the same premises. The company specialised in the manufacture of grain and suede gloves as well as general suede products.

For a brief period at the close of the nineteenth century, the company was known as Clothier, Hitchcock, Giles & Co and were listed in Whitby's 1898 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser. By 1903 they had reverted to Clothier, Giles & Co and remained as such until they ceased trading.

After the Second World War the company was run by George Giles' son, Frederick John Giles, who was also Master of the Honourable Company of Glovers in 1948-49. At this time the company employed a combined tannery and glove-making staff of around 250 plus outworkers. By 1972 the number of staff declined to 67 on the gloving side of the business and 31 in the leather dressing side although greater efficiency in production methods had ensured that output had actually increased.

In the 1950s a glove-cutting school for apprentices was founded at the factory, although this was closed by 1960.


Yeovilians remember...

Many thanks to Lester Stenner for the following - "I was an apprentice despatcher at the company from June 1958 to June 1961. Mr Ridge (one of the Directors) was in charge. I later transferred to the cutting department for six months. The gloves were polished, packed and dispatched from there. Mr John Corrie was the top man and his son, also John was deputy. Mr Colman Smith was in charge of Finance, and Spencer Balchin was in charge of the Leather Processing Dept. Gordon Cook (I think he played football for Yeovil) was in charge of setting out the leather to the cutters. I remember Bill Perry who cut gloves for royalty and special gloves for VIPs several times. Les Allen worked on returns or complaints. I cannot remember any of the surnames names of the ladies in the sewing department, but there were about twenty working in there (there was a Linda, Beryl and Joyce). The canteen was excellent and run by a lovely lady who made fantastic cheese and tomato sarnies. The van driver came from Langport and used to give me a lift from Glenthorne Ave to the factory most mornings. My pay on starting £2-15s-6d, when I left I was on £3-10s. I don't know how I survived on that. Enjoyed my time there with some very nice people."

Clothier, Giles & Co Ltd closed the gloving side of the business in 1975 to concentrate on the production of leather clothing. The company finally ceased trading in 1986.



Staff of Clothier & Giles assemble in Sidney Gardens around 1950, presumably for an outing.


The factory seen from Park Street in the mid-1960's.


....and seen from the other direction, from Park Street, in a colourised photo of the mid-1960s.


Photographed by Geoff Bowler, courtesy of Sue Bowler

The glove factory of Clothier, Giles & Co in Addlewell Lane, seen from the bend in Park Street opposite the Swan Inn. Photographed in 1969.


The cutting room of Clothier & Giles glove factory, photographed in the early 1960s.

A photograph of 1973 showing the glove factory of Clothier, Giles & Co.


.... and a closer view taken around the same time.


Courtesy of Roger Froude

The yard of Parker, Brooks & Long. At left is the glove factory (the former Coronation Buildings) and at top right is Victoria Bridge over the railway. At top right is the rear of the Clothier, Giles & Co's factory.


Clothier, Giles & Co in photographs


The following collection of photographs are courtesy of Roger McElliott and show the various departments of Clothier, Giles & Co in the 1930s.


General view of the leather dressing yard and glove factory.


The pit house.


The dressing yard.


The staining shop.


The wheeling shop.


The ironing shop.


The engine and electrical plant.


This photograph features in my book "Lost Yeovil"

The cutting shop.


The trimming department.


The webbing and counting room.


The machine room.


The banding and boxing department.