The Romans established a wool factory whence the occupying army was supplied with clothing, and the value of making woolens was soon recognized by the Britons. This reputation was maintained throughout the middle ages, and the fiber was in great demand in continental Europe. Native industry of England in early times could not rival the products of the continent, although the troubles in various industrial centers, from time to time, caused skilled workers in wool to seek asylum in England. Flemish weavers settled under the protection of the queen and were planted at different places throughout the country. Guilds of weavers were established; and the exclusive privilege of exporting woollens was granted to the city of London. The attention of monarchs and legislators was frequently directed to the wool industries.Wool was indeed "the flower and strength and revenue and blood of England," the wool industries were the most important source of wealth in the country.
On the opening up of american colonies, every effort was made to encourage the use of English cloth, and making woolens was discouraged and prohibited in Ireland. Sheep was introduced at Jamestown in Virginia in 1600, and in 1633 the animals were first brought to Boston. Ten years later a fulling mill was erected at Rowley, Mass., people there were the first that set upon making raw wool in the western world. It is recorded that the first carding machine put in operation in the United States was constructed in 1794. For centuries the finer wools used for cloth making througout Europe had been obtained from Spain- the home of the famous merino breed developed from races of sheep originally introduced into the Peninsula by the Moors. The Spanish merino sheep had been introduced into Saxony, then carried to Hungary,and to France. In 1802 the first merinos were taken to the United States. The introduction of the merino sheep into the United States was an important move, but its results are not to be compared with the results of the introduction of the merino sheep into Australia about the end of the 18th century and into South America a little later. When making woolens from a practical point of view it must be recognized that wool is by no means a simple body, but has a somewhat complex physical structure. Its compositin when making raw may be said to be threefold. Thus there is the wool-yolk - what may be termed a natural impurity; the wool fat, which is not only present in the yolk but also permeates the fiber and seems to give it its plastic and soft handle; and the cell structure proper of the fiber. The bulk of the wool of commerce comes into the market in the form of fleece wool, the product of a single year's growth, cut from the body of the living animal. To-day woolen cloths are made from any and every kind of material; in fact it is said that anything which has two ends to it can be incorporated into a woolen thread and cloth. It does not follow, however, that all woolen cloth is cheap and nasty. In UK making woolens was centralized where the coal supply met the wool supply. And since about 1856 the English wool trade has been centring round Bradford.