The team at Wools of Cumbria Carpets is working with the Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association (HSBA) and DB Wools on a shared approach to gathering Herdwick wool from across Cumbria.
“We have been working with HSBA for many years trying to find a way to get Herdwick wool collected from as many farms as possible in Cumbria,” says John Barraclough of Wools of Cumbria Carpets. “In the past, it’s been stored for years in barns or even burnt because it has not been worth the farmer taking it to the British Wool Marketing Board depot at Carlisle and we really want to prevent this waste.”
“We’ve now got together with Mark Powell and DB Wools to use a hub collection point approach to create a better route for farmers. Mark has the knowledge, experience and infrastructure within the Standard Wool Group to collect wool from the producers in Cumbria, pay them a good price within days of collection, sort, grade and scour it and sell the wool at market price.”
The committee of HSBA, including Treasurer, Roy Jenkinson, are currently approaching farmers with the details of the scheme, the price available for Herdwick and other fleeces and information about the collection points and haulage arrangements.
Any Cumbrian sheep farmers, not only HSBA members, can take part in the scheme and full details are available from Roy on 07831 199143 or via the HSBA website www.herdwick-sheep.com.
“DB Wools are offering slightly above this season’s Herdwick price,” says Roy, “and it appears to be a very good offer. It makes sense for our members to form local groups and identify collection point farms so that the proposed system can be viable. We should know in a few weeks, as the Herdwick clip proceeds for 2021, just how many Cumbrian farmers will take up this offer.”
Wools of Cumbria Carpets is involved, not only in support of Cumbrian farmers but also because the business relies on buying graded wool from specific breeds for its products all year round.
“Happily, as we stand today, the message is finally getting through that Herdwick wool is far from being a waste product,” says John. “In our opinion, it is actually one of the best carpet wools available and this vital resource needs to be utilised and valued accordingly. If this scheme can work effectively, the wool producer will be better satisfied and we and other manufacturers will get the continuous supply of the wool that we need.”
“There is a long way to go before the price of wool to the farmer is at the level that it needs to be to help protect their future, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.”
Caption: Herdwick sheep are synonymous with Cumbria and the Lake District and their wool has been used for carpets for centuries. Credit: David Stephenson
Caption: The Graphite range from Wools of Cumbria Carpets uses five natural shades of wool from the three traditional hill breeds, Rough Fell, Swaledale and Herdwick. These are Rough Fell, Swaledale, Swalewick Cross, Light Grey Herdwick and Dark Grey Herdwick