Henry Kelsall set up business as a wool merchant in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, in 1815. In 1825 he moved into Butts House in the centre of town and was joined by his brother-in-law William Bartlemore.
The partners opened their first mill in 1835. The second followed in 1848, giving them a large town centre presence. Henry Kelsall’s son-in-law, George Tawke Kemp, joined him as partner following Bartlemore’s retirement in 1856, and the company became Kelsall & Kemp.
In 1890 the business became a limited company with George Kemp, son of George Tawke Kemp, a director.
During the decade leading up to the First World War, the company expanded rapidly, selling its products all over Britain and exporting flannel to various parts of the world under the Doctor trademark.
In 1919 the firm became a plc. Two years later a mill was established in Australia, forming Kelsall & Kemp (Tasmania) Ltd.
In the 1930s the company began to produce dress cloth and mantlings and steadily established itself as one of the leaders in the field of ladies’ outerwear.
During the Second World War Kelsall & Kemp produced more than 28 million yards of shirting cloth for the armed forces.
The company continued to expand in the 1960s before merging with West Riding Worsted and Woolen Mills in 1968, becoming Peate Kelsall & Kemp Ltd, with the name changed to West Riding Fabrics Ltd. in 1975.