Back in 2005, we made a unanimous decision to place wool at the centre of our fabric development. One of the oldest natural fibres known to man, its functional properties are well known and it’s why you’ll find it throughout much of our range.
Two years of detective-like research eventually led us to Lesley Prior, the guardian of the last twenty-eight Bowmont Merino sheep on the planet. Capable of producing a fine fibre wool and surviving in UK conditions, the Bowmont sheep combines the hardiness of a Shetland with the softness of a Merino sheep. We had found the answer to our quest; and in the process secured the future of this breed.
Nine years after Finisterre first met Lesley, the Bowmont Merino flock is now close to 300 sheep strong, producing a yield of around 700kg of fibre a year. It’s a privilege to have pioneered this British Merino success story and built a 100% British supply chain from scratch.
ABOUT THE BOWMONT
If you wade through our archives over the years, it’s clear to see that Merino plays a significant role in our brand history. For us it was a no brainer to turn to Merino for all our cold water surf needs; antibacterial, moisture wicking, warm, soft and tough, it’s the perfect wool to stand the test of time. For those hardy British surfers who formed the roots of our brand, Merino has served as the antidote to that all too familiar post surf freeze.
But what we were really looking for was to the find a way of manufacturing Merino on home turf; to reinstate the production of wool in Britain and create a more sustainable supply chain.
Cue Lesley Prior - our saviour (and the Bowmont flock’s whilst we’re at it) - who presented us with a solution. It was a challenging one admittedly, but with her love and passion for all things wool, we’ve done ourselves and Lesley proud.
The Bowmont breed was developed by the Macauley Institute in Scotland to be the British answer to Merino. It’s the only British breed producing wool in the Super and even Ultra Fine Merino classes. The project closed after twenty years of hard work when EU funding ran out. Lesley has the only pure bred Bowmont flock in the UK, all from the original Macauley flock. Her obsession with quality and fine fibres is about preserving this Macaulay heritage.
OUR GIRL ON THE GROUND
Lesley is a force to be reckoned with. Her knowledge of all things wool is not to be challenged, nor is her passion or devotion to the Bowmont flock which she guards. We make sure we’re always in touch so we know how the sheep are faring and what to expect from the next batch of wool, but also because Lesley is a vital part of the Finisterre family.
FROM SHEEP TO SHELF
From sheep to shelf - a 100% British supply chain. Reared in Devon, spun in Yorkshire and knitted in Scotland. From a flock of twenty, year on year growth and a lot of passion now sees the Bowmont numbers exceeding two hundred and fifty and 2012 saw the world's first products being made.
2005 - Flock numbers = 20
Brought back from the brink, the remaining flock find a new home: Devon.
October 2011 - Flock numbers = 101
Tupping - breeding season commences.
March 2012 - Flock numbers = 143
Lambing season - 42 healthy new lambs
Raymond shears the sheep.
The clip is baled ready for transportation. We transport the fleece to Gledhills, Yorkshire.
The wool is scoured and combed into clean, degreased fibres.
The fibres are spun into yarn.
The yarn is transported in hanks and dyed in Scotland.
The yarn is knitted into fully fashioned beanies, scarves and jumpers.