Textile testing solutions provider James Heal this year marked a number of significant milestones, most recently the iconic Martindale abrasion testing instrument manufactured by the company reached the 80th anniversary of its invention.
As the first major textile testing instrument of its kind and probably the most widely used abrasion testing machine in existence, the Martindale was designed by Dr James Graham Martindale. Whilst working at the Wool Industries Research Association, Dr Martindale was tasked with devising a machine to test the wearing properties of carbon-impregnated fabric during World War 2, a textile intended to protect against gas attack. The first machine was then constructed by Stanley Dilworth, the workshop head at WIRA in 1942, as the original Martindale abrasion tester.
Subsequently during the 1950s James H Heal as the company was known then, developed its own Martindale, it is believed with the collaboration of Dr Martindale. The new James Heal Martindale offered the benefit of a pre-determined electric counter, which stopped the machine automatically when a pre-set number of rubs was reached.
The Martindale is still today a core laboratory instrument for testing the effect of wear on materials, such as abrasion and pilling of textiles, also carpets, leather, even wood. Over the years further capabilities have been added with a wet testing model, the AquAbrasion being added to the James Heal range to give a real-world dimension to testing.
A timeline charting the history of the Martindale with images and documents from the archive is available on the James Heal website.
Former apprentice Laurence Turner who started working at James Heal in 1973, recently visited the company and recounted many of his fond memories of working in Lake View Mill in Halifax, having been taught to build the Martindale instrument. During his visit, Laurence distinctly recalled working on the production of the Martindale, his colleagues in the factory and the original clocking in machine that has recently been restored back to its former glory as part of James Heal’s 150th anniversary year celebrations.
The Martindale range continues to go from strength to strength and is still one of James Heal’s most popular products. Managing Director, Neil Pryke comments, “It was a pleasure to welcome Laurence and learn about his experience working at James Heal in the 1970s. Since our involvement in the evolution from the early Martindale, we have continued to respond to consumer trends and market demand to develop and improve our flagship instrument. We have sold thousands of Martindale instruments over the decades. As a leading supplier and innovator in precision testing instruments, our Martindale series continues to evolve keeping our product Innovation team very busy.”
Established in Halifax, West Yorkshire in 1872, James Heal design and manufacture textile testing instruments, which are sold worldwide. The brand became part of the wider PPT Group in 2014, with a number of sister brands each focusing on testing many aspects of materials and products.
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