antique textiles Huddersfield

“With His Head All Dyed A Brilliant Magenta Colour”

Well, I finally got round to making a tiny Etsy shop, to sell our mudags and some of my naturally dyed fibres:

So now the mudags will be available to folk who can’t get to wool shows in Yorkshire, this year!

And also, talking of dyeing, one of my (possible) Dawson relatives found this wonderful story about Longwood’s David Dawson, the 19thC Huddersfield dyer, who along with his son, Dan, developed the world’s first synthetic magenta dye. I’m still not sure whether or not  my great grandma x 5, Betty Dawson of Longwood, was related to David and Dan Dawson, but given my thirty odd year long quest to wring vivid colours out of the natural world;  it wouldn’t surprise me.



There was, too, the important firm of Dan Dawson and Sons of Milnsbridge. Old David was the first with the magenta dye. He could be seen regularly at the market on a Tuesday, with his head all dyed a brilliant magenta colour. They were first in these parts, I think, and I may say, in the world, to develop the new dye…


[The Huddersfield Examiner, April 1915,  ‘THE DYEWARE TRADE IN HUDDERSFIELD IN DAYS GONE BY’, John Sugden,  J.P].

What?  Hang on a minute…  he did what?  Is there another way of interpreting that sentence?  (And we are talking the 1860s, here).

The things some people do for publicity!  Now I know we have only just opened our Etsy shop, but even I can’t face going quite so far as the irrepressible David.

Still, I can now add to my recent discovery of the York early Victorian gents walking round with lovely red lip salve – the thought of my (possible) relative, David Dawson – over one hundred years before punk, being the first Brit to sport magenta hair….

In David’s honour, I will of course, be synthetically dyeing some of our Norfolk Horn fleece “bright magenta”.  But not my head.

Logwood dyed Norfolk Horn. Not quite magenta, but you can say you got it from a putative relative of the first man to dye his hair pink…



Many thanks to Lindsay Dawson, for her intriguing discovery.


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