The tanning of leather is a time-honoured craft. Chamois leather has been produced in England since the time of William Shakespeare, whose father was a tanner.
By 1645 our tannery, The Thomas Evans Works, was already flourishing, tanning leather used to line the gauntlets of the knights in shining armour. It has continued to do so, through the industrial revolution, the steam engines of the 19th century and through to the digital revolution of today, always at the forefront of technology.
In 1895, a Portsmouth chamois tanner named Walter G. Hutchings walked from the south-west of England all the way to Sawston, Cambridge, looking for work, finding it at Thomas Evans. It wasn’t long before the industrious Mr Hutchings teamed up with the equally driven Mr Harding to start their own business.
Messers Hutchings & Harding continued their partnership through the First and Second World Wars. Walter, being a distinguished citizen in the local community, took on a young evacuee during the Second World War named Barry Ettling, the youngest son of Ernest Ettling, a salesman for the distinguished Sir James Garner’s Skiver Tannery in London, until he was old enough to enlist in the Royal Navy fleet air arm. The two families became close and, at the end of the War, upon Walter Hutching’s retirement, the Ettlings bought the business and moved from London.
Under the guidance of Barry Ettling the business rapidly expanded to become the leading chamois leather producer. Erecting new buildings, installing modern technology and the latest IT, he equipped the tannery to compete in world markets. Now the tradition continues with Thomas Ettling succeeding his grandfather and then father, John, to oversee the manufacture of the world’s leading chamois leather.
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