A Three-Century Legacy of Innovation and Excellence
In a recent meeting between Suffolk Chamber Chief Executive John and Julius Walters, the Managing Director of Stephen Walters & Sons Ltd, the remarkable story of this historic Suffolk company was unveiled.
As the tenth generation to helm this historic silk business, Julius shared the captivating journey of his family's company, which has thrived for over 300 years, building on their association with the Royal Family and venturing into new and diverse markets.
Sudbury Silk Mills, which encompasses Stephen Walters and David Walters Fabrics, has deep roots dating back to the early 1700s in London and expanded its operations to East Anglia during the 19th century. Over the years, the company has maintained a close relationship with the Royal Family, weaving fabrics for momentous occasions including Queen Elizabeth's Coronation, Prince Charles' investiture gown, and Princess Anne's wedding dress. The pinnacle of their royal contributions was the iconic silk fabric for Princess Diana's wedding dress in 1981.
Despite its rich heritage, Sudbury Silk Mills continues to evolve and adapt to modern demands. In recent years, the company has ventured into manufacturing luxury apparel fabrics for the ready-to-wear and couture markets. Additionally, David Walters Fabrics, has expanded its offerings to include hi-tech performance fabrics for outdoor furnishings and luxury super-yachts.
The historical connection between Sudbury and the monarchy is a source of great pride for Sudbury Silk Mills. During the meeting, Julius unveiled a top-secret project that involved supplying silks for the coronation last year, including the gilded coronation carriage and a specially woven Peau du Soie silk for Bruce Oldfield's design of Queen Camilla's dress. More notable contributions include weaving the lining fabric for Queen Elizabeth's Coronation robe in 1952, creating the gown for Prince Charles' investiture in 1969, and producing the iconic Silk fabric for Princess Diana's wedding dress in 1981.
As Julius briefed John on their plans, he expressed his ongoing interest in collaborating with the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and local businesses. He highlighted the importance of knowledge sharing and collaboration to continue learning and growing. Julius intends to apply for a King's Award for Innovation and explore local business awards, having previously won the Family Business of the Year for the region in 2020.
Impressed by Sudbury Silk Mills story, John extended his gratitude to Julius for his time and shared his excitement about the future prospects of collaboration. Reflecting on the meeting, John acknowledged the rich history and innovative mindset that defines Sudbury Silk Mills.
With an exciting combination of tradition, innovation, and sustainability, Sudbury Silk Mills is primed to continue its legacy as a valuable player in the global textile industry. The Chamber of Commerce stands ready to support and collaborate with this remarkable 300-year-old company as they write the next chapters of their journey.
For more information about Sudbury Silk Mills, please visit their website at https://sudburysilkmills.co.uk/