The manufacture of clothing was a major source of employment in Stroud from the mid 1800s to the 1980s.
The major companies making clothing were Holloway Brothers, William Tratt & Co., Hound Brand Works and Hill Paul & Co. Ltd.
The brothers George and Henry Holloway began by setting up a small dressmaking business in Stroud High Street in 1849. The Holloway Brothers were quick to see that sewing machines could help in the mass-production of clothing.
In 1853, they purchased 13 sewing machines patented by C.T. Judkins of Manchester. In 1854, they claimed to be the first company in the country to use a steam engine to power sewing machines.
'Each machine is attended by a young woman, who has both hands to guide the cloth, whilst the foot starts or stops the machine with the simplest ease, by means of a lever connected with the shafting that runs underneath . . .
It is marvellous with what rapidity garments are thus produced'.
The Illustrated London News, 16 December 1854