Born on the edge of England
HANDMAKING IN LOWESTOFT
We're proud to be able to say that Blackshore is part of the revival of garment manufacturing in Britain. Even more than that we're proud to be part of the revival of small-scale craft making.
Blackshore is bringing craft garment making to historic Lowestoft: with the opening of the country's most easterly atelier, situated in a former fishing net factory just yards from the seashore on the site of the town's old fishing village. The very edge of England.
KNITWEAR FROM FAMILY FACTORIES
Blackshore knitwear is made to the same quality and care standards as our sewn garments. The only difference is that for our knitwear we partner with two long-established family knitwear factories: one right in the heart of England, and the other in the Channel Islands.
Since the early part of the 16th Century, there were cottages in Lowestoft along the base of the cliff, almost at the sea's edge. These grew in number to become the Beach Village, or what was known as (by the folk who lived there) The Grit, or the “town below the cliff”.
Lowestoft, the most easterly town in England, has had a long association with the sea, with a fishing community recorded here since before the Middle Ages. By the first half of the 19th Century, the industrialisation of fishing took Lowestoft’s trade to to new levels, and the coming of the railway meant that fish landed in the morning in Lowestoft could arrive in Manchester in time for High Tea!
With the growth of the fishing industry The Grit became hugely overpopulated with, at its height, over 2,700 people living in just 500 tiny homes. Almost everybody living in the beach village worked in fishing or one of the many supporting industries, from net, rope and sail-makers, to lamp-makers and boatwrights.
The Grit boasted 13 pubs and its own brewery, several bakeries, a dairy, and a butchers with its own abbatoir. Folk who lived in The Grit were different from the town's population. They were described as having: “Not quite a dialect, but words or smudges of words, that wouldn’t be heard elsewhere.”
The Grit’s decline began with war in 1914. Some of the fishing fleet was commissioned for national and military use, and the village was bombarded by the German fleet who were trying to destroy the Lowestoft’s gasworks. Major flooding over several years between the wars made the area virtually unfit for habitation and in 1933 the local authority began clearing the area and laying plans for redevelopment that were never fulfilled.
WWII came and went, further decimating the area, and in 1949, Birds Eye opened a depot which was developed by 1952 into a vast production unit. In 1953, the worst flooding in history of the east coast devastated 400 homes, and two years after that the so-called ‘slum clearance’ began in earnest.
Little now remains of the bustling village or its many residents, except for the warehouse and workshop buildings along Whapload Road: one of which is home to Blackshore Coastal Clothing.
This part of town has been designated a Heritage Action Zone and we are proud to be part of its long awaited regeneration.
SOURCING AND MAKING IN THE UK
The tide of fashion is turning. People are dismayed by the wastage and the unacceptable labour practices involved in fast-fashion, and are hungry for long-lasting, craft-made clothing.
Britain is never likely to make mass-produced fast-fashion again. But there is a renaissance in premium quality, slow-make clothing in many corners of the country. And that's the movement that Blackshore is proud to be a part of.
Making small, making slow, making with care, all have great advantages. You get a premium quality product, which is always going to be rarer and more distinctive than high street brands. You know that your garment has been produced ethically, by a small team of craftspeople. And you'll also know that your garment is backed by a lifetime visible repair guarantee.
By making here in Lowestoft we are also supporting the revival of a UK industry which just a few years ago was struggling to survive. In doing this we strive to find quality British made fabrics and fastenings for use throughout our collection. The vast majority of our fabrics are sourced from British cloth mills, and some of our fabrics are even made from British-spun yarn.
On the rare occasions when no British factory can be found to make a particular fabric to our exacting specification, we guarantee that we will only ever work with ethically managed producers from other countries. When this is the case you’ll find it clearly marked on the individual product page.
We are very proud to be part of a growing Made in Britain movement, and very proud to be making here in Lowestoft. We hope that our collection inspires you to support the British made menswear industry.