Beckford Silk was started in 1975 by James and Marthe Gardner, at their home in the centre of the village. Their original idea was to make things, by hand, in the countryside, very much the same idea that had inspired the Arts & Crafts movement to set up workshops in Chipping Campden and other local villages at the beginning of the last century.
The choice of textile printing rather than manufacturing in wood, metal or ceramics was mainly because textiles, and silk in particular, are a wonderful vehicle for the use of colour.
The first years were spent in research and development and in seeking potential markets. It was not until 1978 that James received his first really large order. This came from The National Trust, one of the pioneers of heritage retailing and it helped set Beckford Silk on the course of designing, hand printing and making exclusive textile accessories for the heritage market.
By the late 1980’s the business was outgrowing it’s central village location and so the present site was purchased. Planning permission was obtained and the main part of the building was built in 1989/90.
In the mid 90’s Beckford Silk moved into fashion printing which involved learning new skills and techniques, as well as the need for new equipment. Wider tables with hand carriages were required, as well as dyeing facilities. At that time customers included many UK and Irish based fashion designers. However the difficult economic climate of the 1998 to 2002 period and the growing competition from low wage countries, forced the company to temporarily withdraw from this market. Today Beckford Silk is once again involved in fashion printing and is working closely with a new generation of young designers.
For Beckford Silk the advent of digital printing has coincided with the running of the business being passed to the second generation of the Gardner family. Anne Hopkins has worked with her parents for over twenty years having studied graphic design at Ravensbourn and beginning her career in The British Library design department. Now as director of sales and design she forms the link between the customer and our production team. Robbie Gardner joined the family firm to take over his fathers role as production director, he studied Marketing, Management and Multimedia at University and also has a Masters in Acting.
Anne and Robbie with a mainly young team are taking the business forward, but not forgetting its Arts and Crafts roots.