Arthur Liberty (1843 - 1917)
Liberty opened his flagship shop in Regent Street in 1875. The shop specialised in luxury goods, especially imports from the Far East. Unfortunately many of the imported fabrics proved too delicate to be used by dressmakers and interior decorators and the dyes did not last. This encouraged Liberty to look for a printer closer to home. He found a printer called Littler, whose works were next to the River Wandle (this is now the site of Abbey Mills Craft Centre). Modern chemical dyes were not to Liberty’s taste so he collaborated with a dyer called Thomas Wardle from Leek to produce natural dyes.
Silk printing continued at Merton until the late 1970’s.
More about Liberty’s life can be found in the Museum.