Sawtell’s bedding factory

Holt, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire


label of Sawtell bed factory, Holt

Sawtell label, printed on fabric


The bedding manufacture of John Sawtell & Co. Ltd was located on the road called The Midlands, next to the Beavens’ leather factory in Holt. Here it produced the “Sleepline” beds, which are now manufactured in Leeds.

It claimed to have been established in 1830 and grew out of the business of Benjamin Sawtell (1796-1871), who was born in Bath and came to Holt via Othery on the Somerset Levels. He was listed as a feather merchant in Holt in 1851 (a Thomas Sawtell was a poulterer in Bath). His son Benjamin was listed as a bedding manufacturer and another son John as a feather merchant at the Spa House and employing four men. Mrs Ann Sawtell, widow, was listed as a feather and flock dealer in 1876. The business continued to grow under John’s son John, who was a bedding manufacturer in 1891 and John Howard Sawtell after him. A factory was built in 1882 behind the Spa House, which was demolished in 1895. The firm was listed in 1939 as bedding, wood bedstead manufacturers and feather purifiers.
The factory has gone now and the site has been redeveloped as the Midlands industrial estate, including the Box Steam Brewery.

B. Sawtell & Sons Ltd. established a straw dealing business situated in Old Broughton Road, Melksham in 1892. They turned their large factory over to purifying feathers for bedding in 1902 and continued until the 1970s, despite a disastrous fire on 30th May 1910.


Sawtell's bedding factory
The interior of part of Sawtell’s factory at Holt in the 1920s; the men are fitting stretched steel mesh to the frames of beds