It was not until 1920 and several generations later that the two companies amalgamated to form the famous company Patons and Baldwins Limited.
The two companies had produced mainly hosiery yarn for use by machine knitters, but by the mid 19th century were producing yarns for home knitters. In time the “Baldwins Beehive” and the “ Patons Rose ” became synonymous with fashion quality. In the Victorian era the craft manufacturing became the respected hobby of handknitting.
Originating in Paisley, Scotland, the Coats and the Clark families were the pioneers of sewing thread and embroidery thread manufacture in the UK. Coats manufactured sewing and crochet threads, including mercer crochet, while the Clark family manufactured Anchor embroidery threads.
In Paisley in 1830, James and Peter Coats purchased their fathers' small thread making mill. Within a decade J&P Coats Limited had expanded and much of its production was exported to America. Another member of the family, Andrew Coats was sent to manage the business there. In 1896 Clarks, another thread manufacturer, merged with Coats.
The Paton family in Alloa and the Baldwin family in Halifax showed concern for their employees and local community. Working conditions were maintained at a very high standard and in the 1880's the firm built houses for employees, made hostels available for female workers and established a community with medical and fire services. The firm built schools and were instrumental in the building of Paisley Technical College.
In the 1980's another large textile group, Viyella merged with Coats Patons and subsequently acquired Tootal another famous UK name.
Today Coats plc incorporates a worldwide organisation of industrial thread making with 35,000 people in 68 countries and a crafts presence across 38 countries.
In the UK the business includes the specialist printing and kit making operation of William Briggs in Bolton; founded in 1874 it became famous for traced linens and heat transfer printing onto coats of arms and military badges for rehabilitating war veterans after the First World War. Then came embroidery kits and needlepoint kits with wellknown brands such as Penelope, Anchor and Fleur de Lis. Today William Briggs produces tapestry wool and kits for Coats companies around the world.
Rowan yarns joined Coats Crafts UK in 1995 bringing premium designer handknitting and quilting and patchwork to supplement the existing Jaeger handknits and Patons knitting brands.
The UK base in Darlington supplies over 25,000 items of sewings, handicraft threads, cross stitch and needlepoint kits, haberdashery, craft accessories and handknitting yarns to thousands of outlets in the UK and 20 overseas markets.