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Central Wool Growers depot closes after 92 years as Stamford loses link to historic trade




Stamford loses an important part of its business heritage today (Friday) when a wool depot closes its doors for the final time after almost a century of trading.

The financial impact of Covid-19 has forced Central Wool Growers to close its wool grading depot in Uffington Road with the loss of nine jobs.

Much of the town's status and wealth was founded on the wool trade, but CWG's closure all but ends that centuries-old link.

From left, Amanda Knighton (CWG's administrator), Tim Taylor (wool grader with 50 years' service), Keven Willson (forklift and warehouse operative), Joe Morley (trainee wool grader), Jon Morley (warehouse operative), John Gardiner (wool grader), Colin Jarvis (wool manager) and Julie Gregg (operations manager and company secretary)
From left, Amanda Knighton (CWG's administrator), Tim Taylor (wool grader with 50 years' service), Keven Willson (forklift and warehouse operative), Joe Morley (trainee wool grader), Jon Morley (warehouse operative), John Gardiner (wool grader), Colin Jarvis (wool manager) and Julie Gregg (operations manager and company secretary)

The depot collected and graded more than 1.7 million kilograms of wool in a typical year, working with farmers from the east coast to the fringes of Wales, and the Thames to the Humber.

CWG has worked with British Wool since 1950, but the national body’s decision to take all of their grading in-house has hastened the closure.

“Unfortunately the Covid pandemic has disrupted the global wool market, resulting in an oversupply of product,” a company statement said.

A farmer delivers his wool to the depot
A farmer delivers his wool to the depot

CWG was one of the last independent wool grading operations in the country, and its closure marks the end of an era for Stamford's connections with the centuries-old wool industry.

"It's hugely disappointing," said Stamford Chamber of Commerce chairman Richard Olsen.

"If you look at the history of Stamford, one of the main reasons the the town was so successful was to do with wool. The town became very wealthy because of it.

The Wool Society's lorry drops off a collection of fleeces
The Wool Society's lorry drops off a collection of fleeces

“A new grading contract was therefore not available to Central Wool Growers on satisfactory terms for the forthcoming season.

“This has subsequently led to the cessation of wool grading in Stamford and nine full-time redundancies.

“A number of employees have subsequently secured employment in the locality.”

"There is so much history attached to wool, it's devastating that we have lost our last real link to it.

Wool is poured into the press for baling
Wool is poured into the press for baling

"Sadly it seems to follows the general trend around manufacturing.

"Anything that loses people employment is always devastating, regardless of whether it's nine people or 900."

CWG, a co-operative society, will continue to trade from an office at the Uffington Road base, and will focus on its property portfolio.

The wool grader at work
The wool grader at work

The business grew out of the Wool Co-operative Society’s formation in 1929, and were initially based at Wothorpe Malting when Lord Exeter bought thefreehold on their behalf.

In 1949 the society added Newstead Mill to store bales, and three years later the Uffington Road site was bought from Lord Exeter, with the first permanent grader taken on in 1955.

The Society opened 11 retail stores across the East of England and the East Midlands.

They were sold to Mole Valley Farmers in 2010, but the Society retained ownership of the properties.



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