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History and roots

G&J Johnston was founded in the 19th century by the Johnston brothers, James and George, who had previously been merchants organising the weaving on hand looms in the cottages. The power loom was then invented and they built and equipped a factory bringing the weavers out of their 'but and bens' to weave on the new power looms. The small factory they established was on the shores of Wemyss harbour - East Wemyss Fife, Scotland.

The flax was originally grown in fife as the local climate suited the crop, as demand overtook supply more and more Flax was brought from the continent. At this stage David Johnston, the father, sent his own fleet of ships to the Baltic to bring back raw materials of Flax. The first master of the Cutty Sark learned his trade on the Johnston vessels, a Captain Mudie.

Print of old fabric making process

The Story book of Wemyss Weavecraft tells the tales of David Johnston, The Cloth Battles, The Medieval Safeguard for high quality cloth with the Stamp Masters, The Adventures to new markets and how the Johnston family took it from Cottage Craft to a Modern Industry.

In 1947 Wemyss Weavecraft was created as a wholesaler offering product direct to retail whereas G&J Johnston supplied grey cloth only, both companies operated side by side from the same premises.

Photo of old Wemyss factory

The present owners bought the company in 1981 and the manufacture of high quality, predominately linen-based furnishing fabrics, continued at the East Wemyss site up until 2003 when it was re-located to Sekers In Whitehaven. In 2006 when Wemyss re-located to Dundee.

Wemyss new location incorporates a purpose-built warehouse, sales office, design and technical studio offering trade customers a friendly and efficient service. The Wemyss trade showroom is located at Chelsea Harbour Design Centre, the focus of excellence for interior design in London.

Old Wemyss Fabrics logo