I spent most of last week on a course at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey, south London. It’s a wonderful part of town, history ooozes out of the buildings and you get a sense of the grime and edge of a typically Dickensian part of the city.
In the late 1800’s, this area of London was the main centre for leather and hide processing and by the end of the eighteenth century it was estimated that one third of all leather produced in the country was manufactured in Bermondsey. The walk from my bus stop to the museum took me past the Leather, Hide and Wool Exchange on the corner of Leathermarket Street and Long Lane, built in 1879.
It’s a beautiful building now used as offices with a pub downstairs however I can’t find any details of its use as a wool exchange, but would love to know a little bit more about it.
The main wool-related work within the area was as a ‘wool-stapler’ or dealer, someone who would acquire raw wool, sort it, grade it and sell it on to various manufacturers. A number of wool related industries such as hatters, popped up in the area off the back of the traders business and The Woolpack pub on Bermondsey Street is supposedly named as a reminder to these trades and the people who worked in them.
I like the idea of being a member of The Woolpack.
I’m going to do a little more research into this part of London and its role in the wool industry. If you know anything that may help me then I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment and I’ll get in touch.