Who tuned in to watch bed specialist Harrison Spinks on Inside the Factory on BBC2?
Wow! We've always known how much goes in to every Harrison Mattress but it's amazing to see the process from start to finish. Catch up on BBC Iplayer if you've missed it. Here's what we learned from the programme
About Harrison Spinks
Their factory (and indeed most of their material suppliers) are based in Leeds and have been going for nearly 180 years. Each mattress is made up from over 5000 components and they make 600 mattresses in 24 hours! Some of the processes they use haven't changed in the 180 years and much is still done by hand.
How to make a Kingsize Emerald Mattress
The life of the mattress starts with 5mm steel being delivered to the "Wire Drawing" building for the making of the springs. This steel is then stretched through a 14 metre machine and made into 1.5mm wire.
This is then transferred to "Spring Production" where the steel is put into a pocket coiler machine which is designed to engineer spring memory. Each spring is made from 120cm of wire! 1054 of these springs are made for a kingsize mattress and each is made in just half a second. Polypropelene is then heat sealed around the springs to create pockets for each one. Smaller springs are then inserted into every 3rd spring to provide more comfort and support.
The springs are then transferred to the Glue Assembler which lines the springs up into a mattress shape and glues them together. This process takes about 3 minutes before the "mattress" is sent down the chute for framing in Mattress Assembly.
Steel frames are then fastened around the edge using a hog ring gun.
Meanwhile in the Weaving Room the ticking used on the mattress is being woven on site. The factory weaves approximately 10,000metres a week. 8 square metres of this ticking is required for a king size mattress.
The mattress visits the Sewing Room next where the borders are cut to size, air vents and handles are added by hand. The border is then hand stitched to the mattress using a 12" needle. At this point 6048 springs are added in the form of 2 comfort layers. The Emerald mattress now contains over 13,000 springs in total.
A layer of hemp flax, from the cannabis family but completely legal, is then added to the mattress. Hemp flax is great at getting rid of moisture and smells so is really important in creating a mattress which will last a long time.
30 miles away there is a farm belonging to Harrison Spinks. This is where they get all their wool for their mattresses from. They have a flock of North England Mules who grow the perfect springy wool for a comfortable mattress. Wool is important as it is a great heat regulator, keeps you warm in Winter and cool in Summer. It is also naturally fire retardent. This wool is then transferred to Thomas Chadwick & Sons who wash the wool thoroughly but carefully before transferring to the Fillings Department in the Harrison Spinks Factory. The wool is processed to make a light fluffy mesh which is then concertinaed 5 times before being knitted together by barbed needles and cut to size to create the top comfort layer of the mattress.
Back to Mattress Assembly and the woven ticking is placed over the top and bottom of the mattress to keep the fillings in place. At this point the mattress weighs a whopping 68kg. The mattress is loaded into the tufting press which turns the mattress on it's side to allow a tufting needle (18" long!) through the 11 layers of mattress. 32 tufts are placed in a kingsize mattress. Tuft heads are added to stop the tufts escaping when the press is released.
The edges of all the layers and top ticking were taped using a specialist sewing machine to finish the edges off perfectly. There you have an Emerald Kingsize Mattress, 3 hours and 41 minutes later.
As Gregg Wallace puts it "It's easier to get a space rocket to the the moon than to make one of your mattresses"
Other Things We Learned
- Basic mattress shape appeared in the 1700's but was still filled with basic materials such as straw.
- Springs were introduced in 1871 but they weren't enclosed and all moved at once!
- In 1901 the first pocket springs were patented by James Marshall.