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Thomas Burberry inventor of gabardine

Thomas Burberry became famous for inventing a method of waterproofing cloth, which he called gabardine. TailorBurberry lived in Basingstoke in the middle of the 19th century, where he ran a drapers shop. The invention originated from a discussion one day with a local Shepherd. Burberry remarked on the ability of the Shepherd's smock to resist the rain, which the shepherd put down to the sheep dipping, where he thought the smock absorbed some oily substance from the wool. Burberry thought about this idea and finally came up with a method of waterproofing that he could apply to the yarn before weaving, as well as to the finished cloth itself.

  Waterproofing In 1868 Burberry set up a factory in New Street and the firm flourished until in the early 1900's the Burberry store in Winchester Street was expanded to occupy a large site. In 1892 a mill was built in London Street to manufacture the cloth. This mill employed many local women and girls. It's well known of Burberry's kindness that he showed to any of these staff who suddenly became ill or widowed. Burberry was a devout Baptist and every morning staff would begin with a prayer meeting.

   A few years later, with his son, he started a small business in a local hotel, giving fittings and taking orders. Two years later work had become so demanding that a shop was opened in the Haymarket. This eventually grew into the Burberry company of today.

  Fireman In April 1905, a fire started in the Basingstoke store in Winchester Street. The shop was completely gutted, causing 30,000 worth of damage. Burberry rebuilt the store on the same site. In later life Burberry lived in Hook, and rode by horseback to Basingstoke every day, even when he was well past 70. One day he fell from his horse and was found in a ditch, from that day on he had to find another form of transport. Thomas Burberry died in 1926 at the age of 91.   

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