IN this edition of nostalgia, we are looking back at uniform manufacturers H. Edgard & Sons (London) Ltd in Whitehaven.

Uniform manufacturers H. Edgard & Sons (London) Ltd had their factory at Preston Street, Whitehaven. Thousands of military uniforms were produced for His Majesty’s Forces by the girls of Edgards’ Whitehaven factory.

Edgards came to Whitehaven in 1940 moving into temporary accommodation in the old Fibre Mill in Catherine Street training local labour in the manufacture of military, naval and air force uniforms. The Barracks Mill operation was on three floors and a chute was used to send garments down to the pressing room below. 

In 1947 it moved to Preston Street and, in its heyday it employed around 500 women, and a handful of men.

Among the male employees was one Frank Lewthwaite, who had joined H. Edgard & Sons (London) Ltd in 1945, starting in the cutting room and then moving on to the mechanics shop where his boss, Mr Wilson Sellers, was in charge of maintenance throughout the factory.

Frank was to remain with the firms for 35 years, retiring in 1979.

Edgards was a London firm, started in Chelsea in 1850, and run by a London family, brothers David, Leo and Derek Edgard, and later Alf, and sister Daphne.

Edgards was key to War Office operations, so the firm had been moved out of the capital in 1940 because it was being bombarded by the Blitz.

More than one million uniforms for the forces were made by Edgards and some can still be found today, offered for sale on the internet as collectors’ items.

Military uniforms for both men and women were made for the Army, the RAF, the Marines (some for the USA), for military bandsmen and for Royal Yacht personnel.