Iconic Rohan Bags – Made in Yorkshire

Garment failure not an option

Not long ago I was trying to find a photograph of the building in which the first Rohan Salopette was made. To date I have not been successful. If anyone has some photos of Kippax West Yorkshire circa. early 1970’s the building may be on them. Look out for Cheney Wear, a small garment manufacturing unit that made work wear. Very typical of the garment manufacturing industry in Leeds at the time. The company was brimming over with manufacturing talent. The sort of talent that comes from generations of experience, not only in machining but also pattern cutting, grading and their willingness to embrace the new and different.

Paul Howcroft in one of the first Rohan SalopetteImagine the scene two young people turn up with a very strange garment they want to make. The garment was technical, in so much as the fabric was stretchy and had high-tech plastic buckles. The patterns needed to be made and graded. We didn’t know how many we would sell, so no guarantees of orders. We had orders from the six major outdoor retailers at the time. Less than 50 garments in total. But that was not all. The standard of manufacture had to be very high. Garment failure was not an option. Added to all this we had no money.

To cut a long story short they did it.  Made the very first garments for testing and the first production batch of Rohan Salopettes in Black. These sold to Pindisports, YHA, Frank Davies, Brian Stokes, Alpine Sports and Highrange Sports.

Mr Naylor owned the factory, Gwen his right hand women and all the people who made Rohan Salopettes back in the day you did a really great job. It is certainly true to say without your enthusiasm, skill and encouragement none of it would have happened.

As the Rohan garment range grew Mr Naylor and his team became very busy with Rohan production. At some point he suggested some of the range moved to his families larger production unit again close to Leeds. The photo above is that building, out of this building came the Super Strides, Super Salopette and wait for it, the very first pair of Rohan Bags complete with a Rohan Bags Belt.

The factory is no longer there, pulled down for redevelopment in the 1990’s but the memories remain.

Rohan 40 yearsMemories of the excitement of seeing the very first of the lightweight range on the machines.  Rohan Bags, Rohan Hyde, Rohan Moving On and variations on the Starkhorn Jacket all made in this factory for many years.

Great memories and a big thank you to the Rohanist that alerted me to the photo.

It’s a wonderful addition to our heritage collection there are lots of heritage photos on the Rohantime Gallery

Sarah Howcroft – Co Founder

 

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