Secrets of elite Darwen textile firm which has been supplying John Lewis for 70 years

At the end of this month visitors to Darwen market can see for themselves the work of a textile firm in the town which has been one of the secrets of success for a high-end national retailer.

Herbert Parkinson Ltd has been the soft furnishings manufacturer for the John Lewis Partnership for 70 years. On Wednesday May 29 the firm based at Harvest Mill site off the A666 will host its first pop-up in the town.

From 9am to 5pm visitors to Darwen Market Hall can visit the special stall to meet with ‘Partners’ (employees) from the site, learn more about the firm’s history – from its heritage through to the products they manufacture and supply today – and discuss current vacancies and job opportunities.

Visitors will also be treated to live product demonstrations and there’ll be the chance for schoolchildren to design their own fabrics.


Herbert Parkinson was bought in 1953 as an ‘experiment’ with the salekept a ‘strict secret’ for more than a decade Now it is the last remaining John Lewis Manufacturing Partner in the whole of the UK.

It supplies a full range of John Lewis soft furnishings – everything from curtains to Roman blinds, roller blinds, cushions, duvets, and pillows. The firm’s General Manager Tracey Alcock said: “Herbert Parkinson Ltd is proud to be a part of the very fabric of Darwen.

“Generations of Darreners – many from the same families – have all worked here and have contributed to its success over the decades. We are proud of our heritage and connections to the town.

“We welcomed guests, including residents, into Harvest Mill so they could see first-hand how much hard work, skill and effort goes into every single item we produce. People found it fascinating and that’s where the idea for this new pop-up has come from as we want to continue to develop those links with our community.

“People very much regard the textile trade as a thing of the past, but Herbert Parkinson continues to go from strength-to-strength. We’re in the midst of designing a textile themed competition too.”

Cllr Quesir Mahmood, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s growth boss, said: “Herbert Parkinson Ltd remains one of Darwen’s largest employers and is a real success story, continuing to support the community. We’re looking forward to welcoming the Herbert Parkinson partners to Darwen Market so people can find out more about the manufacturer’s fascinating history and about the opportunities that exist today.”