Chesterfield based firm celebrates 175 years of leather production

Joseph Clayton and Sons, on Clayton Street, Chesterfield, is celebrating 175 years of producing leather.
Joseph Clayton and Sons, on Clayton Street, Chesterfield, is celebrating 175 years of producing leather.

One of Chesterfield’s oldest and most successful companies is celebrating 175 wonderful years of producing quality leather.

Joseph Clayton and Sons Ltd, of Clayton Street, Chesterfield, which joined forces with JE Sedgewick and Company Ltd in April to become the largest vegetable tanning group in the UK, marked nearly two centuries of trading on October 23.

The company produces leather for a wide range of needs including belts, saddling and equestrian uses, footwear, dog collars and leads, wallets, cases, jackets, cricket balls and for industrial sewing machines.

Ian Walker, Chairman and managing director, said: “The company was founded by four local Chesterfield families in 1840 and still has those family connections.”

Joseph Clayton founded Clayton’s when he was 20-years-old within the vicinity of the existing tannery. The company expanded as the arrival of the railways increased demand and new factories and mills required leather belting for machinery.

Joseph Clayton opened a second works at the Clayton Street site before the original site was closed down. His sons Joseph Edward and John Morton continued the business.

The company overcame adversity and survived a fire in 1913 and the First World War soon created demand for harness leather. Clayton’s was later passed to a group of businessmen and employee Harold Birkin rose through the ranks to become manager and introduced exports.

Mr Birkin’s sons Barrie and Roger took over the company and laid the foundations for the firm today which has a long-serving workforce of over 25 people. The company has stated that Joseph Clayton prided himself on quality products, a friendly service, trust and respect for customers, suppliers and employees which are principles the company adheres to today.