The Natural Fibre Company is a specialist, vertically integrated woollen mill and the only company in the country that spins both wool and worsted yarns under the same roof. We have a dye plant and are licensed for organic production by the Soil Association.
Although Myra Mortlock started The Natural Fibre Company in Merthyr Tydfil in 1991, the business was a continuation of one she bought from Rose Elworthy who launched it in the mid-1980s as the Amy Rose Collection. It spun wool on a small scale, largely for smallholders. With her husband Philip, Myra carried on producing natural and un-dyed wool spun in the traditional way, later moving the business to an industrial unit at Lampeter in Mid Wales.
When the Mortlocks decided to retire in 2004, they agreed that one of their customers, Gotland sheep breeder Sue Blacker, should take the business over. Cornish-born Sue, a one-time stockbroker, involved with economic development in the South West and an environmental charity, approached customers past and present with a research survey to determine exactly what they wanted. She put together a business plan which was approved for European Union Objective 1 funding in the spring of 2005. The company was taken over from the Mortlocks on 14 November and relocated in a 10,000 sq ft factory at Launceston in Cornwall close to the Devon border. The image above shows how it used to look!
Scouring and blending began later that month while the first organic run was in January 2006. Mohair and alpaca started going through the mill in May 2006; worsted and semi worsted spinning were added in July 2007. In 2008 the company installed a dye plant and launched the on-line shop which trades as Blacker Yarns/Designs.
The Blacker Swan partnership to bring Falkland Islands wool to the UK started in 2012, the following year a mezzanine floor to expand production and storage was added to the mill and there has been continuous investment in updating and upgrading production and administrative facilities.
In December 2019 the Natural Fibre Company and Blacker Yarns were purchased by Westcountry based businessmen, Colin Spencer Halsey and Graham Higgins, who are the current owners and directors. This dynamic and new partnership marks an exciting next phase for the company with plans to implement new structures, increase productivity and automate some of the manual processes. With an emphasis on more Research and Development activities in textiles working with new and existing partners the future is looking very bright.
Pictured: Graham Higgins, Commercial Director and Colin Spencer Halsey, Operations Director