Fustian was originally, a cloth with linen warp and cotton weft, but later any tightly-woven, thick, twilled cotton cloth with a short nap, and often in dark colours. The hard-wearing material was popular in the production of work clothing.

A number of popular fabrics are included in this category, including

The cloth was first made in Egypt around 200 AD, and spread across Europe, being brought to Britain by migrant workers.

Originally made in Lancashire in the pre-industrial period, the material was much in demand – especially in London – and there was considerable fustian production in Hebden Bridge – where it is recorded in 1791 – and especially at Machpelah. It has been suggested that fustian was produced in Manchester and first came to Hebden Bridge to be dyed.

The job of fustian cutter is found across the district. The cloth which was mounted on a frame, and a knife with a long, thin blade was used to cut tunnels through the raised pile. The work was often done at home or in small workshops. Mechanisation eventually replaced the traditional hand-cutting.

At one time, much fustian was produced in Norwich.

With the advent of Singer's sewing machine in 1851, many fustian manufacturers began to produce ready-made clothes and are listed as wholesale clothiers.

The fustian workers' strike of 1906 lasted 2½ years.

The popularity of denim and jeans in the 1960s greatly affected the fustian industry.

Redman Brothers were one of the largest companies in the fustian trade [1890].

Brisbane Moss is the last remaining mill in England making fustian and corduroy.

The name is derived from the name Fustat, a suburb of Cairo.

See Moss family, John Ashworth, English Fustian Manufacturing Company, Hebden Bridge Fustian Manufacturing Co-operative Society, Pecket Shed and St George's Square, Hebden Bridge

This & associated entries use material contributed by Jackie Wood

© Malcolm Bull 2024
Revised 17:43 / 3rd May 2024 / 4791

Page Ref: QQ_65

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