R. J. Draper & Co Ltd
is an established independent family owned company, founded in 1937. We are based in Glastonbury in the south west of England, traditionally the heart of England's sheepskin industry. We are proud to say we are a fourth- generation family business, and have been manufacturing in our Glastonbury factory for over 80 years, now the oldest sheepskin footwear manufacturer in the United Kingdom. We specialise in luxurious natural products of sheepskin and leather, that provide both warmth and comfort, in traditional English designs, which are popular worldwide. Our footwear takes up to 4 weeks to manufacture, and we use only the finest materials available.
(1935- Mr Richard Jack Draper, founder, far right)
Timeline: R J Draper & Co Ltd
The company was founded by Richard Jack Draper, who after many years in India and Canada had become involved in the 1930’s with a Glastonbury glove maker, Harry Cox. His success in marketing the products, particularly gloves for industrial use, led to him taking over the premises and setting up his own company in 1937. The original buildings were a former chapel and cottages dating back to the medieval days of Glastonbury. Mr Cox’s original company was started back in 1911.
From working on Government contracts, supplying safety asbestos and leather protective wear during world war two, the business was gradually extended to make use of the available raw materials of sheepskin and leather. A pool of skilled local labour, with specialists experience drawn from generations of working with sheepskin, encouraged the development of the footwear business. By 1946 suede and sheepskin slippers were being made, as well as leather and suede sandals with crepe soles.
In 1952 the footwear manufacturer of the local firm Baily’s was taken over and the Baily’s brand was used for several years on sheepskin boots. Baily's were also famous for manufacturing the boxing gloves used by Muhammad Ali.
The present chairman Richard Donald Draper joined his father in 1955 and it was at this time that new Italian vulcanising machinery was installed for sheepskin boot making. It was the first machine of it's kind in England.
During the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, the company became a major boot supplier to the U.S.S.R and extra factory facilities were taken over in Clevedon and Bristol. By now over four hundred people were employed in manufacturing Draper sheepskin products.
In 1959 the manufacture of sheepskin clothing was started at Glastonbury and soon the Clevedon facility was also used to cope with the demand for sheepskin coats.
(Glastonbury factory, drawn 1962)
The third generation of the family came into the company with Nicolas Richard Draper, in 1979. He is the present managing director and is responsible for our new retail outlet, a new concept allowing customers to view the factory production lines while shopping, and modern web site which has gone from strength to strength. It was at this time a 100 acre farm in south Wales was bought; to cope with demand for quality materials of leather and sheepskin.
Today the company is still very much a traditional family concern, with four generations of the family having been involved with the company. We now produce an average of 1000 pairs of sheepskin slippers and sheepskin boots a week, twenty five percent of which is exported to the highest quality accounts throughout the world. The Glastonbury premises, extended in 1962, are situated in the shadow of the famous Glastonbury Tor.
The ‘’Draper of Glastonbury’’ range consists of luxury boots and sheepskin slippers that are still hand crafted in the Glastonbury Factory using the finest materials and skills available and are sold throughout the world. Our products have been worn and appreciated by royalty and countless celebrities, though we don't like to shout about it. We know our product is for those who appreciate the very best quality.
Please email us with any questions that we can help you with at email@example.com.
Glastonbury and Sheepskin: 1000 years of know-how
Until the 1990's Glastonbury, in Somerset, England, had almost a monopoly of the processing of sheepskin, producing 80% of all real sheepskins used in Western Europe. Tanning, dyeing, sueding and manufacturing products from sheepskin is an art, no two skins are the same. An experienced tanner can usually tell the breed of sheep, the type of pasture on which it was reared, the condition the sheep was in, and observes tick marks, creases and fat content, etc. Many other factors decide what treatment it gets to achieve a standard colour, type of suede, pliability, prevention of fading and wear creases, etc.
Many sheep producing countries have tried to set up sheepskin tanneries and spend hundreds of thousands of pounds in the attempt, without success. There is a logical explanation for this. It has nothing to do with financial manoeuvrings or take overs, but results from a saga extending over a thousand years, part legend and part history.
In the first century A.D. St Joseph of Arimathea established a small Christian community at Glastonbury. King Arthur fostered this religious order and is reputedly buried there. King Alfred used the area as a sanctuary from the Danes and set up and endowed with lands a strict religious order once re established as King of Wessex.
Wealthy landowners bequeathed their farms to the Abbey and the Abbot was soon responsible for the largest single estate in England. He became Britains first real industrialist, for he organised large scale sheep rearing with a tannery at Glastonbury and woollen mills at nearby Trowbridge and Westbury.
There has always been a tremendous demand for sheepskin products, especially in time of war and soldiers from the time of King Alfred down to the RAF in the 2nd world war, with sheepskin coats from Glastonbury. So at least 1000 years of know how are behind our sheepskin heritage.
Centuraries of patient study of a delicate material as unpredictable as sheepskin and with the knowledge passed down from generation to generation result in the most perfect sheepskin products obtainable anywhere in the world.
Draper of Glastonbury sheepskin has its strong heritage, but this alone will not keep you warm. What scientific basis have we for reccommending sheepskin as the most healthy product in really cold weather conditions? Not only is it completely wind and weather proof but the wool fleece is HYGROSCOPIC. This means that the wool will absorb up to one third of its weight of water without becoming damp. Inner condensation is thus prevented and the chance of chills and other ills aggravated by dampness are avoided. It keeps the warmth in when it is wet, provides warmth when it is cold, stays cool when it is warm, and above all it is natural.
The Draper family business is now the oldest sheepskin company in Glastonbury, and the oldest sheepskin footwear manufacturer in the United Kingdom. Using the best of all the skins to be found, we make a well tailored product that is the Rolls Royce among sheepskin.