The Reed family’s involvement in textile manufacturing arose as a result of slave trading. Liverpool’s wealthy ship owners sought return cargoes of cotton for their empty slave vessels returning from the Caribbean and Louisiana to Lancashire where the fibre was processed by equipping outlying farmers with hand powered spindles and looms into cloth required for the booming consumer market of the Industrial Revolution and export trade with the British Empire.

The Moorby family had been sheep farmers for generations on the wild moor countryside of North Lancashire, and the opportunity to earn additional income from hand weaving cotton fabrics was a welcome reprieve from the hardships of lambing. Cowsheds were quickly turned into “weaving sheds” and soon steam engines were used to power “mills” which contained many looms. John Moorby used his entrepreneurial skills to start a business which grew from his farm to renting space at Spenbrook Mill in Barley on the slopes of Pendle Hill and quickly became a well known weaver of fine cambric cloths in the area.

After thirty years’ hard work in the commission weaving business at Spenbrook, John Moorby had saved enough capital to build his own “room & power” mill in the flourishing nearby town of Nelson in the Calder valley of Lancashire. He named the the factory “Springfield Mill” after the hillside stream which flowed through the property alongside the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. He let half the mill to the Reed family who had a thriving weaving business in the town.

As John Moorby & Sons Limited perfected the art of weaving fine sheeting cloths, they partnered with textile finishing bleach works in Northern Ireland to produce ‘Beetle’ finish fabrics which were subjected to hours of compression under teak blocks whilst moist to tighten the weave and leave the cloth smooth and with a distinctive lustrous watermark.

The Moorby’s and the Reed’s became closely related through the marriage of two Reed sons to two Moorby daughters in the early 1900’s. This alliance created a strong textile dynasty in Lancashire at the time, and the two families lived together at Spring Cottage in the booming industrial town of Nelson.

The family business contributed to the war effort during the Second World War and patented the ‘graduated reed’ a loom part which enabled cheaper T665 hospital sheets to be produced by concentrating a higher thread count in the centre of the cloth where most abrasion and wear occurred.

Following the visit of Mahatma Ghandi to Lancashire in 1951, the Lancashire textile industry was decimated in a few short years as India refused to buy cotton goods from their Empirical masters. The wartime slogan “Britain’s bread hangs by Lancashire’s thread” became redundant by the mid nineteen fifties.

The Reed mills were not exempt from the crash of the UK textile industry in the 1950’s. All five of their weaving mills were closed under Parliament’s Textile Rationalisation Scheme in 1957. From rags to riches and back to rags ……. All within a hundred years.

Peter Reed, who was the fourth generation of the textile dynasty, was the youngest member of the family at the time of its post-war nadir. He decided to continue in the weaving industry, and to concentrate on the higher thread count and better quality fabrics which India could not produce at the time. He opened mills in Barnoldswick and Blacko before moving production back to Nelson where his grandfather had started before him.

In 1975 at the request of Harrods in Knightsbridge, London, Peter Reed was asked to brand their bed linen so as to differentiate the range from the flood of Chinese imports which had commenced following President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972. Initially the range was branded ‘PR’ and later became known as PETER REED – a brand which was subsequently sold to a Chinese based company. Following Peter Reed’s death in 2000, the company was continued by his son and daughter-in-law (Karen) under the brand REED FAMILY LINEN.

In 1989 the company acquired Imperial Linens in New York and Imperial de Bordados based in Funchal, Madeira. Sales were expanded throughout the North American market. The renown library of Imperial hand embroidery designs created by Herman Klein was acquired including the famous Grace Kelly trousseau patterns which were designed for her wedding to Prince Rainier in 1956.

In 1991 the company entered into a ground breaking partnership with the English design house Designers Guild to produce their bespoke bed linen range for worldwide distribution.

Following on from the success of the Designers Guild collection, Reed linens produced a range of bed linen for New York based home fashion guru, Sherri Donghia. Similar agreements followed with Nicole Farhi, Fired Earth, Angel Zimmick and Norman Hartnell.

The company was awarded a Royal Warrant as weavers and manufacturers of bed linen to Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II in January 1994.

In 2000 the company completed a historic commission for two 12 metre Princess Grace hand embroidered organdy & cambric linen table cloths and matching twelve dozen napkins. Each of these hand made articles took over two years to complete, and comprised over a million hand stitches. The cloths are now both used at formal banquets in a Saudi Arabian palace.

Following the closure of the company’s weaving and stitching factories in Lancashire, Reed moved all their production to their own spinning, weaving, embroidery and making up plant in the Tamilnad Province of Southern India, now known as the “Manchester of India”. Little did Mr Ghandi know when he visited cold Lancashire in his loin cloth and robes in 1951, that half a century later one of the most prestigious manufacturers would relocate all their production to once British India.

In 2007 the company signed a ten year licensing agreement to promote REED products throughout North America. In addition to the company’s traditional bed and table linen ranges, the collection was increased to include luxury blankets, towels and bedspreads.

In 2013 the company launched the Empress Collection of bed linen to celebrate only the second Diamond Jubilee in the history of the English monarchy.

In 2016 the company launched the Duchess Collection of bed linen inspired by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton).

In 2018 the company launched the Countess Collection of bed linen inspired by Her Royal Highness the Countess of Dumbarton (Meghan Markle).

In June 2019 Reed Family Linen launched their e-commerce retail store at www.reedfamilylinen.com where clients can order from over 150,000 SKU’s and receive delivery in the sizes, designs, colours and embroidery selections of their choice. We believe that this is the world’s first fully bespoke bed & table linen ordering site which will enable us to service clients and decorators worldwide. The shop’s initial range offering will be updated and added to as future new collections are announced.