FOR six decades Haworth-based family business Wyedean Weaving has made military accoutrement for Royal events, filmed and broadcast around the world.

As the company celebrated its 60th anniversary, there was a surprise in store for its team of specialist embroiderers.

Melanie Kaye, Aileen Henderson, Wendy Hatton and Susan Jones, who have a collective 115 years’ service with Wyedean Weaving, were announced by the Ministry of Defence as recipients of the King’s Coronation Medal. The announcement was made at the company’s 60th anniversary reception, attended by local dignitaries, customers and other guests. The staff were pivotal in creating four new Colours and Standards (military flags) for the Royal Navy, the Life Guards and the Royal Air Force, alongside a Sovereign Standard for the Kings Company of the Grenadier Guards, in readiness for the King’s Coronation last year.

At the start of 2023, Wyedean Weaving was awarded the contract to manufacture the British Armed Forces’ new regimental Colours and Standards following the death of the Queen. Under the leadership of Melanie, embroiderers Aileen, Wendy and Susan spent thousands of hours undertaking applique ornamental needlework and hand embroidery to complete the elaborate fabrics ready for the Coronation, followed by a fifth Standard for the Blues and Royals in time for King Charles’ first Trooping the Colour last June.

As part of Wyedean’s Diamond Anniversary celebrations, guests were invited to watch Aileen, Wendy and Susan putt the finishing touches to the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards Company Colours, which consist of the King’s Colour to be used at this year’s Trooping and their Regimental Colour. But the skilled team was unaware of the surprise to come later that day.

Managing Director Robin Wright said: “Our 60th anniversary has been a celebration of many things - not only marking six decades since my parents went into business at Bridgehouse Mill, but the completion of our recent £300,000 investment programme and our team’s manufacture of the latest King’s Colour.

“So we were thrilled to be told, just days in advance of our event, that our hardworking embroidery team and project manager Melanie - who this week marks 25 years as an integral part of Wyedean - were to be recognised for their contribution to the official Coronation events with a Kings Charles III Coronation Medal.

“We will never forget the looks on their faces when the announcement was made in front of all our guests. It was the perfect time to recognise the incredible skill, hard work and determination that made a significant contribution not only to the King’s Coronation, but to Wyedean Weaving itself.”

Wyedean was founded as a manufacturer of braid and military uniform accoutrement in Haworth in 1964 by David Wright who ran the business with his father Frank Wright, a former textile machine designer awarded an MBE for inventing a yarn spinning technique called centrifugal spinning.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Wyedean founder David Wright at the mill in 1964Wyedean founder David Wright at the mill in 1964 (Image: Lorne Campbell/Guzelian)

Last year Wyedean secured the £5million contract to replace all British Armed Forces’ Standards and Colours with the King’s insignia and the Tudor Crown. Most of its ceremonial items are made to Victorian specifications and require traditional techniques and materials. The team also uses modern, technical textile yarns including glass, carbon fibre and silk suture for medical applications.

The Wright family celebrated the company’s 60th year alongside guest of honour the Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Ed Anderson CBE, who said: “One of my personal aims as Lord Lieutenant is to try to shine a light on everything that is excellent in our great county, which brings us to Wyedean. This remarkable business has a rich history through the 60 years of Wright family ownership and through the excellence of the products made here.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Jeanie Dixon operating a weaving machine Jeanie Dixon operating a weaving machine (Image: Lorne Campbell/Guzelian)

The celebrations, at the company’s Bridgehouse Mill, hosted by Robin, his wife Debra and daughters Susannah and Rosie, included a special presentation to Norma Wright, 99, Wyedean’s chairwoman, who has spent 60 years in the business and is a WW2 medal recipient.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Lord Lieutenant Ed Anderson cuts the cake, surrounded by the Wright family Lord Lieutenant Ed Anderson cuts the cake, surrounded by the Wright family (Image: Lorne Campbell/Guzelian)

Embroiderer Aileen Henderson said: “We just can’t believe we have received King Charles’ Coronation Medal. The work we do at Wyedean is very rewarding and meaningful. Military flags honour the fallen and are incredibly important to our troops. The skills and craftmanship used 100 years ago is still something we’re doing today, to get royal recognition for it is an incredible honour.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The delighted embroidery team with letters confirming their receipt of the King's Coronation medalThe delighted embroidery team with letters confirming their receipt of the King's Coronation medal (Image: Lorne Campbell/Guzelian)

Wyedean’s customers include the Ministry of Defence, the Armed Forces, the Metropolitan Police, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Australian, New Zealand and Canadian Armed Forces.

Robin added: “We want to say a huge thank you to everyone, who has been part of our incredible journey so far. While the thriving Yorkshire textile industry of 60 years ago has now largely disappeared, our niche business in military narrow fabrics, braids, embroidery and ceremonial uniform accoutrement is still in demand at home and overseas with other Commonwealth countries that follow British traditions in ceremonial uniform dress.”

* Standards and Colours - flags representing regiments of the Armed Forces - were introduced in the 1700s to help soldiers find their regiment on the battlefield. They depict the colour of uniform facings, trimmed with gold threaded tassels, displaying the King’s insignia. It takes three of Wyedean’s crafts people one year to create four Colours. Handmade using silks, silver and gilt threads, the flags are used for ceremonial occasions.