On 26th September 2023, Standfast & Barracks received a very special visit from HRH The Princess of Wales. Our staff are elated to have been a part of this memorable day; a remarkable high point in our 100-year history.
We are incredibly proud of our heritage and expertise in fabric printing, with a commitment to continue to innovate, educate, and develop sustainable solutions within our processes. It was an absolute honour to have the opportunity to showcase our excellence to Her Royal Highness. We were also very pleased to be able to celebrate our partnership with House of Hackney, having supported their British business from the very beginning and championing them as they have flourished over the years. Together with our customers, we plan to drive forward the textile industry, advancing towards a sustainable future.
Hosted by our Commercial and Creative Director Emma Douglas, the tour began in the Design Studio where The Princess was greeted by an explosion of colour and creativity, as the team prepare for our next exhibition at Proposte Fair in Italy; an unmissable event as we celebrate our centenary. Here she met with Designers, Colourists and Separation Artists, many introduced to the company through apprenticeships or graduate placements with some then progressing into management roles with further training and support. One of our designers, Sarah Hampson, explained the charming history of her batik tools that were passed down to her from her Great Aunt, and how she had used them to create wonderful batik designs, which have featured in our previous artworks
Next, Her Royal Highness journeyed into the archive where we house our treasure-trove of 18,000 documents including textiles, quilts, and original paintings dating back to the 18th Century. She was particularly intrigued by our collection of textile ledgers that date back to 1856 and capture elements of the social history at the time. Standfast’s inaugural ledger was on display, showing the recorded date that Standfast began printing on this site in 1924. The Princess enjoyed viewing our marvellous woodblock collection and how we transformed these into beautiful, craft-led fabrics to innovate and promote sustainability to our customers by printing with our Ecofast machine onto our recycled cotton base.
The tour continued with Simon Palmer, Operations Manager, where Her Royal Highness was introduced to one of our conventional techniques - flatbed printing, which uses traditional silk screen methods. Striving to preserve our heritage and skill in traditional processes, Nat Craven, the Preparation and Finishing Manager, who has completed his ILM Level 3 qualification with the company, spent time with her explaining the fascinating process. The Princess was enraptured to see the renowned fabric ‘Strawberry Thief’ by Morris & Co printing - a design that she recognised.
The Princess was keen to see the most recent development in fabric printing; our state-of-the-art, digital printing machinery. This investment has carved out a more sustainable future, with many benefits, including smaller print runs, resulting in less excess stock wastage for our customers and ease of printing for new businesses. Here she could see House of Hackney’s gorgeous design ‘Hollyhocks’ being printed on our Ecofast machine.
Delving more into the sustainable practices within our factory, Ryan Downend (Site Production Manager), outlined our goal of being Net Zero by 2030 as part of the Sanderson Design Group, and how we are committed to making this become a reality. This investment includes a new steamer which is more energy efficient, altering shift patterns so that we can turn the boiler off on Fridays (reducing a fifth of our energy consumption), and current project to install a new roof with PV cells to self-generate our own electricity.
Ending the tour in our Inspection department, Her Royal Highness was greeted by Peter Elliston, our current longest serving employee with an impressive 50 years’ service; a heart-warming and special moment, as his granddaughter Emily presented a floral posy and a lovely drawing she had created of herself and The Princess. A truly joyous day was had by all.
As our centenary grows closer, we are immensely proud to be at the forefront of the textile industry and as advocates for reinforcing fabric manufacturing within the UK, we are determined to preserve our skill and heritage by educating future generations for the next 100-years of fabric printing.