In WW2 clothing was dealt with in a former pickle factory at Branston near Burton on Trent, to which it had moved from Pimlico in Central London. Harold Crosland, a businessman and TA officer from Berkshire who had won an MC in the First World War, would command the depot at Branston for the duration of the war.
In WW1, the provision to the army of appropriate clothing was a huge challenge. Pimlico, near Victoria Station, was where army clothing production and distribution was centralised. The choice of further depots in places like Leeds made sense because they were near to Bradford and other places where the cloth was woven and the uniforms made up. The trench coat would become associated with the First World War. For these, Burberry used their patented Gaberdine waterproof material, and Aquascutum the water proof cloth that they had patented. The cotton mills of Lancashire had maintained their pre-war level of production with a workforce in 1914 of over 600,000. The rationale behind this was that the war was going to be short and Britain’s role would be that of armourer funded by its export earnings from textiles. As is clear, this is not what happened. What is odd is that the mills didn’t shed labour to where it was needed in the forces and armament factories.
By the end of the thirties man-made fibres had joined cotton and wool and so ICI, Courtaulds, Dunlop and British Celanese amongst others would supply alongside the mills of Lancashire, Yorkshire and Northern Ireland.
I write about the British textile industry and its role in two world wars in How Britain Shaped the Manufacturing World.