Celebrating a local heritage brand
This month, we wanted to take a look at a nearby company that inspires us with its integrity, reflects our environmental values and wows us regularly with design genius! We’re talking about Little Greene, a paint and wallpaper business founded only a few miles from us and like us continuing to use local materials in production.
How old is Little Greene?
It’s hard to say exactly when the business was first started but we can name Joshua Rowlands as its earliest identifiable owner in 1773 when the Earl of Derby granted the business the right to become ‘a house producing colours’. Little Greene Headquarters are placed very close to its original site in East Manchester. In fact, the business is called after the hamlet in which it was first born; Little Greene! You can still see a map of the tiny village on each tin of Little Greene paint!
This was a perfect area for paint-making as the clean, fast-flowing water harnessed from the nearby Pennines was used not only in making the paints, but its power was also harnessed to work the machinery in the paint production. Joshua Rowlands had originally provided pigments and dyes to local weaving mills and he used his knowledge in extracting colour from resins and wood found in the locale to make paint. We like to think there’s a little link there between Little Greene and Twisted Loom; we use local wool from a 300 year old mill and romantically imagine that Joshua provided some of his gorgeous natural dyes to our mill too!
Little Greene continued to prosper and during the nineteenth century, cheaper synthetic dyes were however, these were not always found to be safe nor did they deliver the same depth of colour as Joshua’s original formulations. To this day, and to Little Greene’s pride, many of Joshua’s ‘recipes’ are still used and is one of the reasons why its paints, while more expensive than many others, give such long-lasting finish. At Twisted Loom we don’t use cheap wood for our frames for the same reason; that’s why we can give a lifetime guarantee!
Little Greene doesn’t only make paint, they also produce wallpaper and have done for over 300 years. We love the way Little Greene designs are inspired by their rich back catalogue but are also reimagined for the modern consumer. Everything changes of course, and some things should be forgotten (I doubt many women would welcome back the crinoline), but at Twisted Loom, we are very keen on building on the past rather than re-inventing the wheel. Every generation has new ideas and it’s wonderful to see them interwoven with beautiful work of the past. We believe that’s what great design is all about and it’s why we’re confident that Twisted Loom products will work and look as well now as in fifty years. Just like our Local Hero, Little Greene!