Visiting Harley of Scotland
Country Ways prides itself on supporting local suppliers and manufacturers. Shopping small is important to us - and we visited Harley of Scotland to see where it all happens.
Hidden in the North East Scottish town of Peterhead is a factory which has been weaving history for almost a century. Established in 1929, Harley of Scotland has been shaped as much by the local social and cultural landscape, as much as it has by history. Peterhead was a thriving fishing town and it was Peter Harley Buchan, the great grandfather and grandfather of the current owners, who bought a factory which was previously a herring fishing yard. Recognising the opportunity the burgeoning fishing industry presented, the company started making hand framed fisherman’s socks and woven blankets. Since then, 3 generations of the same Harley family have continued to blend innovation and tradition into market leaders of high quality knitwear.
The fact that production is still done on site at the same factory is testimony to Harley’s enduring commitment to making garments that are inspired by the local landscapes and culture of the North-East and Northern Isles of Scotland. Now a worldwide operation with markets in Japan, Korea, North and South America, as well as across Europe, their commitment to their once herring fishing yard is all the more impressive. The fact they have not only survived, but continued to thrive without having been swallowed whole by a bigger fish or drowned in a sea of competitors, is testimony to their proud commitment to producing their knitwear here in Scotland using only the highest quality natural yarns, their continued dedication to innovation and a business model that has family values and community at its heart.
Long may the machines keep their chorus of mechanic melodies, the unique smell of wool and oil permeate the air, the stately oversized washing and drying machines maintain their steady rumble, and the myriad of colours of yarn and patterns weave their way into the future.