Textile mill Hainsworth is gearing up for this summer’s 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.
The Yorkshire mill provided the rich scarlet woollen cloth used to dress the original ‘red coat’ soldiers in 1815. The cloth is still made today in exactly the same way at the 232 year old mill – and will be worn by ‘soldiers’ taking part in this year’s historic re-enactment.
The Battle of Waterloo was a landmark in European history – the closing charge of the first global conflict, the final defeat of Napoleon and the start of a sustained period of peace.
It was also the last great battle before the invention of photography.
Over 175 metres of the mill’s iconic scarlet cloth is being specially made as a backdrop to an exhibition in London presenting 80 life-size imaginary portraits of the soldiers who served at Waterloo.
Opening for the anniversary, Somerset House in London will present ‘Unseen Waterloo: The Conflict Revisited’, a series of portraits by photographer Sam Faulkner exploring how we remember the fallen.
The exhibition runs from 12 June – 31 August and admission is free.
Tom Hainsworth, MD of Hainsworth, said: “In 1815, our mill manufactured the iconic scarlet fabric for the English forces at the Battle of Waterloo, helping to coin the enduring reference to the battle of ‘the thin red line’.
“Waterloo had major significance for Britain, helping us to become a global trading nation. Hainsworth was one of the companies that flourished as a result of that.
“The mill would have been phenomenally busy at the time of Waterloo – war always stimulates the textile trade. We have continued to play a role in subsequent wars including both World Wars and were commissioned by the British Military to develop khaki to better fit modern warfare.
“Today, our military fabrics are increasingly attracting the attention of fashion designers including the likes of Christopher Raeburn and Jenny Schwarz.”
In addition to taking part in the event, Hainsworth’s lifestyle brand Scarlet & Argent has created the De Lancey Throw to commemorate the anniversary.
The Waterloo themed throw is named after Lady Magdalene de Lancey who travelled to the battlefield to be with her fatally wounded husband.
The throw is woven in the colours of the uniforms Hainsworth supplied to the troops and is made from 100 per cent Pure New Wool. It costs £110.