Jim Bennett was one of the most well known names in the carpet industry during the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. He is probably best known for his roles as Sales Director of Quayle Carpets and then Adam Carpets. Jim retired after a successful 18 years at Adam Carpets in 2001. A period which saw the launch of Fine Worcester, Castlemead Twist and Kasbah Twist
Jim still keeps in touch with us here at Adam Carpets and we were delighted when he took the time to come in and talk about the idea behind Fine Worcester Twist and how it started and then evolved during the 90’s.
David Adam was the third generation of his family to own and run Adam Carpets. He oversaw the change from woven to tufted production and introduced such innovative and popular ranges such as Natural Perceptions, Inspirations and Kasbah Twist.
Q. How did the idea for Fine Worcester Twist come about?
JB: “When I first came to Adam Carpets we were in the process of switching from woven axminsters to tufted carpet. David Adam could see that tufted carpets were becoming more and more popular and he had invested in new tufted machinery.
David and I wanted to make a real ‘heavyweight’ twist and in those days forty ounces a square yard was considered heavy domestic. We therefore came up with the idea of a forty-six ounce carpet which we felt could more than rival ‘Super Charter’ from Wilton Royal and ‘Saxon’ from Quayles. We made it eighth (1/8th) gauge as opposed to five thirty seconds (5/32nd) which the others were using.
The carpet was incredibly popular. It was actually named it after my house, it was called ‘Uplands’ Twist. It was of course the fore runner to “Fine” Uplands Twist, which came later. David and I then decided that we wanted to make what we thought, in our opinion, would be the best wool twist carpet available. The idea for Fine Worcester Twist was born.”
DA: “Jim and I were in agreement that the new range had to be, in our view, better than any other twist on the market. The first thing was to decide on the construction of the carpet. Most twist ranges then, and now, use one staggered needle bar. This has just one feed going into it. This can mean that less yarn is going into the back needles in the bar than the front. The pile is therefore a little lower at the back than at the front of the bar. Whilst the difference is then sheared off to make it level, we didn’t like that. We didn’t want the machine telling us what we could do, we wanted to tell the machine what to do.
From that came the decision to use two straight needle bars, one in front of the other. This way we could have two feeds going in, one in each bar, where we could control the height of the yarn at the tufting stage. This is what gives Fine Worcester its famous smooth finish. To do this properly though you have to have the right quality yarn. So we had the machine, now we had to get the right yarn.”
JB: “The machine to make Fine Worcester is far more expensive than a normal staggered needle bar machine. Once we had decided to invest, it made sense to ensure that the quality of the carpet would match the quality of the machine. We then undertook to source the finest quality yarn we could.
The machine would be tenth gauge (1/10th) and we had to make sure the yarn would be ‘fine’ enough to get the finish we wanted. It had to be able to retain the twist, which others were finding difficult. The yarn was going to be one of the keys to its success.
David and I visited five different spinners in Yorkshire. In the end we opted for Walter Walker. We were very insistent that the yarn ‘had to be right’. The carpet we would be making was going to be fifty ounces a square yard with a low pile height. The weight would come from the number of tufts per square inch we could put in. We wanted that to be more than anyone else could do on a twist carpet.
At the very start we bought the yarn in dyed. Eventually we would control all the dyeing ourselves.”
With the construction of the carpet set and the yarn agreed, the task of choosing the colours began in earnest.
Next month in Part 2, Jim talks about how the colours were chosen, how the colour names were decided upon and the impact Fine Worcester had on its release.