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Gannex Mill

October 13, 2009



The raincoat, a garment worn to protect the upper body from rain, is a compromise between fashion and utility. Important styles of raincoat are often associated with particular manufacturers, such as Mackintosh, Barbour, and there was also Gannex from UK. (Special thanks for Nicole’s father Christopher for sending me the links.) (Images via herehere, and here)

Gannex is a waterproof fabric invented in 1951 by Joseph Kagan, a British industrialist and the founder of Kagan Textiles, of Elland, which made raincoats.

Gannex raincoats – bonding a nylon waterproof outer coating to a woollen lining – were most famously worn by Prime Minister Harold Wilson (pictured above).  After Wilson, then the opposition trade spokesman, wore a Gannex coat on a world tour in 1956, the raincoats became fashion icons, and were worn by world leaders such as Lyndon JohnsonMao Zedong, and Nikita Khrushchev, as well as by Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh, and were issued to the police forces UK-wide.  In addition they were worn by Arctic and Antarctic explorers, Himalayan climbers, the armed services, and police forces in Britain and Canada. The success of the new fabric made Kagan a multi-millionaire. (Wikipedia)


The Mill was used recently for furniture storage and sales but originally was used for the manufacture of wool blankets, due to the small profit made from just selling blankets the owners son Joseph Kagan invented Gannex material which he used to make a new kind of mac, this new venture did indeed make the company a lot of money, and the story of Joseph Kagan is interesting to say the least. From friendships with Harold Wilson to links with the KGB and being placed under surveillance by the MI5 leading to his expulsion from Britain in 1971 for espionage. (More information here.)

The UK company closed in the early 1990’s due to changes in fashion and cheap foreign imports.

(Images via herehere, and here)






One Comment leave one →
  1. Jenny Kagan permalink
    October 26, 2010 3:38 pm

    Love your images. Would like to see more. My family owned Gannex and I didn’t get round to photographing the mill before demolition started. Would love to have some of your photographs. Please get in touch.


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