This is the definitive guide to shoddy, written at the height of manufacturing in Britain, which was largely centred around west Yorkshire particularly Batley, Dewsbury and Morley – which gives us the link to Leeds.
Batley is widely recognised as being the birthplace of shoddy, as manufacturers Benjamin Parr and Benjamin Law came from there. But Batley borders Morley and Howley Lower Mill in Morley is said to be the place where, around 1813, Parr and Law invented the machinery to grind the rags and tear apart the fibres that would go on to produce shoddy.
So shoddy is a great example of recycling, one of the key themes of this project.
Shoddy was made into many different sorts of fabric, particularly military uniforms and blankets, but there’s also a reference to prison cloths and asylum cloths, “their names indicate their use and destination”.
I’m not sure why it’s called shoddy, one explanation is its similarity to the fluff that was shod or thrown off looms during weaving. Another that it derives from the Old English “shoad” meaning rubble, or from the Arabic word for re-use.
If you’re really keen to find out more, the information in Jubb’s book is exhaustive and available to download free from Google books.