A QUIET corner of the Harwich peninsular is an unlikely setting for tailors to the Queen.

It is a world away from the glamorous fashion industries of London or Milan.

But day by day and stitch by stitch, the business creates uniforms for the military maintaining a tradition which dates back centuries.

Samuel Brothers’ also has a Royal warrant and makes uniforms for heads of state. All from its base in Parkeston.

The firm’s roots do go back to London and the firm has been on a journey around the country before finding its home in Essex.

It opened its doors in 1830 in Ludgate Hill, London, and then opened a premises in Oxford Street in 1915 before moving to two other locations within the city.

At the turn of the 20th century the company was reputed to have been one of the largest exporters of uniforms in Europe with made to measure garments being shipped as far afield as the White House in Washington in the US.

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When the First World War broke out, the company focused on military attire and produced the first waterproof coat for British Army officers.

The company was later based in Leeds, the so-called home of the textiles industry, for about 25 years.

But then that changed when the current managing director Lee Dawson relocated the company to Parkeston where it is still based today.

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Mr Dawson, 52, took the reins of the company 13 years ago following a career in the military as a sergeant major.

He used to buy uniforms from Samuel Brothers and when he retired from the Army, he saw the opening role of managing director at the firm as a fitting business opportunity.

“I knew nothing about business or tailoring but I knew the clientele and what they wanted,” he said.

After hearing Bernard’s Uniform factory in Harwich had fallen into receivership in 2007 Mr Dawson visited the site to see what machinery was there and met the staff.

It was then he decided to move Samuel Brothers from Leeds to Parkeston that year.

Mr Dawson said: “We have trebled the number of staff in the past ten years from four to 17.

“We are still actively recruiting and I have a commitment to an apprenticeship scheme to hire apprentices.

“I also work closely with Colchester Institute and we try and recruit local people.

“The further staff member is from Clacton but I think the rest walk or cycle to work and I am keen to maintain that.

“It’s very much a family environment but what we are struggling with is to get people who want the job to come to Parkeston.

“We do work with students from the London College of Fashion but people don’t want to move to the Harwich area for an apprenticeship.”

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Mr Dawson explained the importance of learning practical skills and wants to encourage youngsters to learn to tailor or become apprentices in a trade.

He said: “We have tailored for Her Majesty the Queen and we make uniforms for heads of state, the Ministry of Defence and we also export uniforms to the Commonwealth.”

In 2017, the company had the honour of being appointed with a Royal warrant as tailors to the Queen.

Mr Dawson said the company has built a reputation for its high quality tailoring which he believes is they key to its decades of success.

He said: “I think there is an appetite to buy British and we are a niche business and that is attractive to clients who want something special to wear.”

To sustain the business for years to come Mr Dawson said it will be important to keep manufacturing uniforms in the UK.

He said: “Businesses which come out of recessions will have a strong manufacturing army.

“But companies can’t compete with Bangladeshi prices as we don’t pay Bangladeshi wages.

“What I stand by is if you buy cheap, you buy twice.

“We have people wearing the same uniform or suit they brought from us for the past 20 years.”

Mr Dawson has credited his staff as the driving force behind the company’s growth at a time where fast fashion is rife.

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He explained many people buy clothes which are made fast and efficiently in factories and sold online as they are cheaper but he said these quickly made items lack the high quality of well tailored garments.

He said: “Harwich is a great place for us as a company and there are good people - and good people are difficult to find.

“Why I decided to move from Yorkshire to Harwich was for the people and it is the people who make the business and I am so proud of what we have achieved.”

To find out more about the company visit samuelbrothers.co.uk.