Henry Ballantyne rented Caerlee Mill in Innerleithen in 1820. He was 18 years old and the seventh generation of Ballantynes in the textile business.
He decided to break away and left Galashiels to establish his own mill so he rented in Innerleithen at Caelee for 9 years till 1892 when he moved back to Galashiels.
David Ballantyne (father of Henry Ballantyne) was recorded as being a member of the Galashiels Manufacturers Association.
Henry Ballantyne left Galashiels once more and decided to build his own factory in 1847 by buying a piece of land with the Walker Burn running through it. On a bare hillside close to Innerleithen, he built not only the mill but also houses for the mill employees. He effectively created new village. Founded the firm Henry Ballantyne & Sons at what came to be known as the town of Walkerburn.
Middle of the 19th Century was time of great prosperity and rapid expansion in the Tweed trade. Scottish wool fabrics wear very popular.
Coarse grey tweed of the area became more fashionable with tweeds, wool fabrics and fine district checks for estates and tartans.
Soft tartans for the nobility (even Queen Victoria) and trousers made with twisted yarns and mixed colorings were now the fashion.
The Ballantyne family made a great deal of money during this period – despite in 1890s the American tariff trade barriers which ruined many of the traditional weavers in Galashiels. 75% of the cloth was now going to America.
In 1865 Henry Ballantyne died. He had 5 sons left to succeed him – David, John, George, James and Henry.
His five sons inherited a fine large business (large by Scottish standards).
Henry Ballantynes three younger sons George, James and Henry, left the family business at Walkerburn (Henry Ballantyne & Sons), as the family business at Walkerburn was not big enough to support all 5 sons. So the three younger sons left to start their own firm – Ballantyne Bros at Innerleithen.
They built Waverley Mills in Innerleithen.
The other two sons of Henry Ballantyne, David and John, ended their partnership of working together for some 20 years at Henry Ballantyne & Sons, and the elder son David built March Street Mills in Peebles, where he and his own sons started a new business called D. Ballantyne & Co. It was said that David was emulating his father Henry by leaving the family business to go and start up his own company in Peebles.
For almost a century the 3 Ballantyne family companies (Henry Ballantyne & Sons in Walkerburn, Ballantyne Bros in Innerleithen, and D. Ballantyne & Co in Peebles) existed alongside each other and were practically competitors.
Caerlee Mills Innerleithen was finally back into the hands of the Ballantyne family when bought by D. Ballantyne & Co (of Peebles).
Demand for Scottish woolens was very high, with large export markets. Many mills were enlarged during this period and new machinery.
In 1912 David Ballantyne (founder of D. Ballantyne & Co Peebles) died.
His sons took over their fathers business at Peebles.
The 2 firms – D. Ballantyne & Co and Ballantyne Bros of Innerleithen were amalgamated to form D. Ballantyne Brothers & Co Ltd.
David Ballantynes sons amalgamated with Ballantyne Bros when they took over the Innerleithen mill which was originally rented by their grand-father Henry Ballantyne in 1820-29 – Caerlee Mills.
David Ballantynes eldest son – Sir Henry Ballantyne – became chairman of this new company. The company was known as D. Ballantyne Brothers & Co Ltd.
Sir Henry Ballantynes grandson – also called Henry – inherited the business after this. Development of intarsia knitting in the 1920s with the b>Depression, needed something new and different in knitwear. Argyll diamond patterns were used first on the stockings and then on the sweaters.
Extensive reorganization of the business was made during the 1930s.
Carding and spinning machinery from the two mills transferred to Waverley Mills Innerleithen, while the weaving machinery was centred at March Street Mills Peebles.
In 1941 Sir Henry Ballantyne died, and was succeeded in the chairmanship of the company by his grandson Henry Period of modernization post-war with new efficient manufacturing systems.
D. Ballantyne Brow now has 200 looms and employ 700 people. The old Caerlee mills Knitting Co Ltd was closed during the war in 1945.
When Caerlee reopened, it was renamed at the Ballantyne Sportswear Co Ltd for knitwear.
Ballantyne experienced tremendous growth during the 1950s under the management of Mr Oddy as Managing Director.
His primary objective was to produce the fines cashmere knitwear in the world and sell it in the fines stores in the world.
Ballantyne becomes associated with high fashion, designer knitwear, of the highest quality, with excellent tailoring which was unsurpassed.
Development of intarsia (hand inlaid knitting) from simple patterns to more sophisticated design which could not be matched anywhere else.
Ballantyne is sold throughout the best stores in the world and is established as having no peer in high quality cashmere knitwear.
Several mergers amongst the borders knitwear companies. Ballantyne changed hands 3 times. Firstly with Scottish and Universal.
Investments Ltd, then William Baird & Co Ltd and finally Joseph Dawson Ltd.
Increasing competition from other manufacturers at home and abroad.
In 1964 William Baird group took over Braemar and Ballantyne, forming the Scottish Border Cashmere Limited.
Queen Elizabeth visited the Scottish factory for the first time on 1 July 1966.
In 1967 Ballantyne was awarded the Queens Award for Industry due to achievements in the export markets for luxury knitwear.
Six years after Scottish Border Cashmere was founded, it was in turn taken over by Dawson International.
Dawson acquires the Scottish Border Cashmere group of companies including Braemar Knitwear, Ballantyne Sportswear and Ballantyne Spinning Company.
In 1982 and 1991 Ballantyne was awarded the Queens Award for Industry due to achievements in the export markets for luxury knitwear.
In March 2004, Charme Investments acquired a 100% interest in Ballantyne Cashmere together with Alfredo Canessa, the entrepreneur who created and who has administered Malo for over twenty years. Charme is an investment company that was established by Luca di Montezemolo with the clear goal of creating value in the luxury sector through the innovative use of entrepreneurial finance.
The partnership that made the purchase of Ballantyne a possibility was launched with the precise aim of supporting the new development phase of a famous international brand like Ballantyne with a strong entrepreneurial content. This was done through the continuation of a clear repositioning strategy introduced by Mr. Canessa in 2002 (aimed at obtaining world leadership in the reference niche sector), and that represents the beginning of a successful brand extension towards new product typologies.
Ballantyne’s headquarters are located in Milan. The general management, creative, sales, retail, administrative, logistics and communications departments are located here.
Heart of the production process is the recently constructed production platform in Umbria, also the site of the creative department, where the majority of garments in precious cashmere are produced. The production of intarsia knitwear using a hand loom in the Caerlee Mills plant is an exclusively Scottish tradition.
The original Ballantyne factory which supplied us for 50 years has closed.
Nicole Kidman, Keira Knightley, Natalia Vodianova, Michael Schumacher, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig, Steve Mc Queen, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Queen Elizabeth wears Ballantyne products.
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond (Die Another Day, 2002), wears a number of products from Scottish firm Ballantyne. The sweater was made specifically for 007, and Ballantyne sold the same sweater in its store on Bond Street, London and selected stockists.
Bond girl Miranda Frost wears a frost grey boucle cashmere polo selected from the Ballantyne Cashmere Autumn Winter 2002/2003 collection.