At home I have an old piece of red cloth, covered in bead work. I had always wondered what it was when I came across Stroudwater red cloth. Red, green and blue cloth was and still is made in and around Stroud for hundreds of years. The great supply of water attracted weavers to the area and there, they produced a very high quality cloth. In Stroud Museum in the Park, there is a painting showing a panorama around Rodborough Fort with large areas of red cloth spread out in the fields and hung on testers.
Since the earlier 17th C the woollen cloth made in Gloucestershire had been worn by settlers and visitors to the American Colonies and the Iroquois trappers in the 18th century demanded stroud red and Uley blue cloth in return for furs. The native Americans began to stop wearing their native clothes and started wearing the red,blue and green stroudwater cloth. They also made souvenirs with the brightly coloured cloth,adding embroidery and beads....some probably came back to the Stroud Valleys. The same red cloth was worn by the redcoats who fought the rebellious American colonists and the Redcoats who fought against Napolean at Waterloo. A detachment of Welshmen also wore it fighting the Zulus at Rourke's Drift.
In June 1776 Betsy Ross an American widow, who ran an upholstery business was asked to make the first American Flag....wouldn't it be great if she made a mock up using Stroud Cloth before cutting up bed linens and sail cloth . Uley Blue cloth was dyed with woad and possibly Indigo, and Stroud red cloth used cochineal and madder. The natural salts in the local water made the colours much brighter and also made them keep their colour for longer. The Royal Navy wore the Blue, and the gentry wore blue coat tails and hunting 'pink'. Even redcoat and bluecoat charity schools were formed by wealthy clothiers .with the children wearing uniforms made from the waste cloth of the local mills.
Who would have thought that a little bit of Stroud is not only in our history books but is on the tables at Monte Carlo , the centre court of Wimbledon and now at The London Olympics !
Ps. A big Hello to my readers from Russia, I spent some time in Russia in 1993 and loved it and I found everyone extremely warm and friendly...One day I'll visit again. Thankyou for reading, I almost have more readers from Russia than England !