In 1849, two Americans called J. R. & C. P. Crockett patented a type of artificial leather known as leather cloth. In 1855 the two men established the Crockett International Leather Cloth Co. in West Ham, Essex, to manufacture leather cloth for the European market.
A large factory was built at Abbey Lane on a site previously occupied by the gutta percha works and originally by the parish workhouse. There were also warehouses and offices in Cannon Street, London and in Paris, France.
In 1857 the Crocketts sold out their business to a company formed under the title of The Leather Cloth Co. Ltd. under the management of Henry Cooper.
The company continued with the production of leather cloth, which was being used chiefly for upholstery. An extension to the West Ham works housing a cotton mill was added in 1866. At this time the factory was producing some 15,000 square yards of cloth per day.
In the mid-1930s the company began the production of rubber cloth. The total workforce at this time numbered around 500.
After the Second World War the firm was producing the Synthede and Ledo brands of leather cloth which were used for upholstery, furniture, shoes and toys.
In 1955 the Leather Cloth Co. Ltd. was taken over by James Williamson & Son of Lancaster and the Abbey Lane works in West Ham were closed down in 1961.