Titus Salt

In 1836 Titus Salt (1803-1876) a young Bradford wool stapler noticed a pile of dirty looking bales in one of the dock warehouses in Liverpool. Some of the bales were torn and their contents exposed. This was alpaca. The bales had been in the warehouse some considerable time and were to be returned to Peru if a buyer was not found.

Something about the unwanted bales attracted Titus Salt and he pulled out a handful of alpaca wool from a torn bale and wrapped it in a handkerchief. He washed and combed the fibre himself and spun it to test for the yarn for strength.

Titus Salt spent over a year working on the problems involved in spinning alpaca. He eventually overcame the difficulties of preparing and spinning the alpaca slivers to produce an even and true yarn by adapting his machinery to spin the fibre as if it were ordinary sheep wool. He then wove the cloth by combining it with cotton warps. The garments were rich and heavy. As the demand in fashion changed to lighter cloth he changed to silk warps. The end result was a durable lightweight fabric with a sheen as cloth was a blend of the alpaca and silk.

A new era in textile emerged. This was the lustre cloth.