In 1720, our founder Joseph Walters settled along with many other Huguenot artisans in Spitalfields in London and began to weave silk fabrics for sale in the capital.
Once established, the company was expanded by his son Joseph (1750-1798), a Liveryman of the Silk Mercers Company, who was based in Bow Lane. He produced draw loom woven figured dress fabrics, brocatelles and damasks as furnishing fabrics.
Stephen Walters (1778-1864) continued this practice but also began weaving fine umbrella and parasol silks in Suffolk, benefiting from the many skilled weavers from the declining wool industry in the region and from the latest production technology. Jacquard looms were widely used in the 1820s and the first power looms were introduced at our mill in Kettering in Suffolk in 1825. Stephen also built other mills in Suffolk – in Haverhill in 1828 and in Sudbury in 1860, with the help of his son Alfred. His son, also by the name Alfred, (1852-1944) relocated the whole weaving operation to Sudbury Silk Mills in Suffolk in 1900, and we remain on that site today.
In Sudbury the company continued to develop, weaving a range of fabrics from black mourning crepe during the reign of Queen Victoria, to umbrella and parasol silks and even parachute silk in the 1940s. During this time Peter Walters (1915-present) and his brother John Walters (1913-present), the sons of Bernard Walters, also led special commissions for ceremonial occasions such as the robe and coach for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Both brothers maintain a keen interest in the business today.
David Walters (1942-present), the son of Peter, pioneered the next step forward with the introduction of power rapier jacquard looms in 1964. While the company primarily specialised in neckwear, and was beginning to develop fabrics for home furnishings, it was also commissioned to weave dress fabrics for couture and other special occasions – these included the gown for the investiture of Prince Charles in 1969, the wedding dress for Princess Anne in 1973, the Alexander State Coach and the wedding dress for Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.
Julius Walters (1971-present) is the latest generation to join the business. Today Stephen Walters and David Walters Fabrics aim to uphold the tradition of producing fine jacquard fabric, woven with integrity in Suffolk, and to continue to develop new qualities to anticipate the requirements of the ever-evolving marketplace. David Walters Fabrics now specialises in bespoke high-end fabrics for interiors and home accessories.