We have been informed by Christopher Tinnion, MD of Fenland Sheepskin Co.Ltd, Bridgwater, Somerset, that the tannery has called in the receivers with effect Monday 28th March 2011.
This means that 70% of the UK’s sheepskin tanning capacity and skills base have effectively been wiped out – leaving Devonia Products Ltd. at Buckfastleigh as the UK’s last remaining commercial tannery.
Devonia process about 60,000 raw skins per annum – out of a UK annual kill of about 15 million woolskins. About 14 million sheepskins go to China for processing – sheepskin tanning or fellmongering.
One tannery in China, Heenan & Prosper, process in excess of 33,000 raw sheepskins per DAY.
In the wake of Fenland’s closure, a number UK Sheepskin design, manufacturing and retail enterprises will no doubt be considering their future.
As secretariat of the Real Sheepskin Association, we have warned of this impending situation since the turn of the new millennium and before.
Despite our best efforts to raise investment and general interest, we have all of us been party to the collapse of a sustainable, environmentally friendly Industry of immense potential economic value to UK PLC.
We must hope that it is still not too late to re-form around the remnants of this 2,000 year old technology.