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The Wool Staplers

A Brief History

This building, just off Copse Cross Street, is thought to be the oldest industrial building in Ross. In its past it has been a Wool Staplers (see below). Since then it has been SHACS mill (South Hereford Agricultural Co-operative Society Ltd) and since then converted to different uses on the different floors. This was the base of "Rowberry & Co.", who were central heating engineers, when they moved here in around 1988 after vacating the site of the Nags Head.

Recently the building has been empty and has fallen into disrepair and was put up for redevelopment. The building has been purchased by Martin Bundy and is currently being converted into flats.

A Wool Stapler

A Wool Stapler was a dealer and grader of wool and were very wealthy in the days when the wool trade was England's main industry. Their name goes back around 500 years to the time when it was a Royal desire to put all the traders in key commodities in one place so that the regent could then watch and tax them. That place originally was the staple and this was later transferred to the materials being traded, as in staple goods, which was then transferred to the merchants who handled them.

The wool trade used to employ huge numbers of people mostly in agriculture, as shepherds and drovers etc, or in processing the wool as spinners, dyers and weavers etc. There were three main groups who made a lot of money and of these the wool stapler was possibly be the least financially successful.

Wool Staplers would buy raw wool at markets and from sheep farmers in the locality. They cleaned and graded it and sold it on either to other middlemen and or to clothiers who would process and weave it into cloth. This would then often be sold to merchant adventurers who exported it, such as to the Flemish markets in Antwerp etc. Clothiers were amazingly wealthy but the merchants were the ones who made the most out of the process.

By the 19th century a wool staplers were importing wool as foreign wool made better cloth. By that time the wool trade was dying out, its peak was pre-1600.

Wool Staplers in Ross

For Ross, in 1762 is one of the first reference to the Copse Cross Wool Staplers where William Lloyd was a wool comber & stapler. The Pigots directories for 1822 lists two wool staplers (in unknown locations) who were William Lloyd and Sons and Roger Merrick and Co. so it appears that this building was still in use by the Lloyd family.

By 1830 the list shows William Lloyd & Sons, Copse Cross Street and Joseph Bussell, High Street but by 1835 John Edwards is in Brookend Street (and Monmouth) and George Lloyd (possibly the Son of William?) in Copse Cross Street. In 1840 Ross again had two Wool Staplers listed, Joseph Bussell (location unknown) and George Lloyd in Copse Cross Street. Later in 1847 had been taken over by John Morgan & used as wool warehouse until sometime in the 1860s.

The 1876 Littlebury Directory shows two 'Wool Dealers' (but no staplers specifically) and these were John Ball, Over Ross street and Thos. Baynham (and skin dealer), Nursery terrace with Bussell & Pike listed as corn, cake, seed, and flour merchants, millers, etc with their stores in Corps (Copse) Cross Street, which is this building. It appears to have ceased to have been a wool staplers between 1860 and 1876.

17th February 2009

The Exterior

All of the original steel framed, single glazed windows have been removed and are being replaced with modern wooden double glazed units to greatly improve the energy efficiency and the aesthetics of the building. None of the original windows had sills so custom made stone sills have been purchased to ensure they are in keeping with the building. The exterior is in progress of being repointed with lime mortar to maintain the styling and also the integrity of the stonework.

Wool Staplers building (17-2-09)
Wool Staplers building
(Click for a larger image)
Wool Staplers building frontage (17-2-09)
Wool Staplers building frontage
(Click for a larger image)

The 3rd Floor

The third, top, floor has been made into two, one bedroom, flats which have a balcony looking out over the town. These have amazing views out over the town and surrounding area.

The view west (17-2-09)
The view west
(Click for a larger image)
The view north-west (17-2-09)
The view north-west
(Click for a larger image)

The view north-east (17-2-09)
The view north-east
(Click for a larger image)
The view east (17-2-09)
The view east
(Click for a larger image)

The interior walls have been installed and the skimming (plastering) of the walls is well under way.

The 2nd Floor

The 2nd floor is currently the main area being worked on with the interior false walls being installed. The stud work surrounds the original timbers that support the floor above.

Wool Staplers building 2nd floor(17-2-09)
Wool Staplers building 2nd floor
(Click for a larger image)

2nd floor interior wall (17-2-09)
2nd floor interior wall
(Click for a larger image)
Stud work around the old timbers (17-2-09)
Stud work around the old timbers
(Click for a larger image)

The 1st Floor

This floor used to be the site of the model railway museum that was in Ross. Currently it is being used as storage for the works going on elsewhere in the building. The posts that support the floors above are clearly visible.

Wool Staplers first floor (17-2-09)
First floor
(Click for a larger image)
An undeveloped floor (17-2-09)
An undeveloped floor
(Click for a larger image)

The Ground Floor

The ground floor is currently also being used for storage. The floors above are supported on massive pillars possibly indicating that the floor above supported heavy equipment. In this ceiling the locations of the hatches to the first floor are still clearly visible.

Hatch between floors (17-2-09)
Hatch between floors
(Click for a larger image)
The ground floor (17-2-09)
The ground floor
(Click for a larger image)

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[Page updated: Feb 15 2011 13:31:59]

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