Company of CRYSEDE

Company of CRYSEDE
Crysede, as made with Cresta Silks

The first workers at Crysede recalled that they at first worked in the upper room of a small cottage adjoining Myrtle Cottage in Newlyn until the larger premises at Sambo's Row was complete. Here, using a hand-operated sewing machine and a flat iron heated on a stove for finishing, they made up the silk into dresses as designed by Kathleen EARLE.  A very high standard was demanded.  The downstairs room became a shop where silk was sold by the yard. Initially, silk was sent down from Alec George WALKER’s business in the North, ready-processed, to be printed at Newlyn with the same designs of spots, checks and stripes he had used in Yorkshire. Later, as more staff were taken on and trained, the silk was fully processed locally from the raw state, and bleached, dyed and hand block-printed.

With his wide experience in all branches of production, Alec was able to train local people in the skills necessary to produce a high standard of finish. Kay cut specially ordered garments from her own designs as well as designing pamphlets and advertising material for the firm. Alec again became a client of McKnight Kauffer, who in 1921 designed a poster for Cryséde.

Following his influential meeting with Dufy in Paris in 1923, Alec began to produce a new range of wholly original designs, and the real success of Crysede became established as these brilliantly-coloured, thoroughly 'modern' designs, based on his watercolour sketches, were immediately popular.  Business expanded rapidly, and by the end of the year there were over 3,000 mail order clients and a number of retail shops were opened.

The first, at New Road, Newlyn (now the woodburning stove shop), and several other branches were opened in Cornwall and the South West.  Alec travelled widely, maintaining business contacts in London and Paris and with the retail shops.  It was considered a great status symbol to own a Cryséde garment. In 1925, with the business established as a successful craft industry at Newlyn, Alec invited Tom HERON, a young Fabian Socialist blouse manufacturer whom he had known in Yorkshire, to come and take over the direction of Cryséde as manager. 

Heron persuaded Alec that the firm needed to expand and become a limited company.  He found large leasehold premises on the Island at St Ives, and transferred the firm from Newlyn the following year.



Fabric painting, dress-making, silk-processing, designing


Berriman (1986) Arts and Crafts in Newlyn

Bird (2008) St Ives Artists: Place & Time

Hardie (1995) 100 Years in Newlyn: Diary of a Gallery; (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall (p128)

Tovey (2010) Sea Change Fine & Decorative Art col pls

Personal information from Polly Walker