The Bernat Mill
, also known as Capron Mill
, was a yarn mill in Uxbridge, Massachusetts
, that was destroyed by fire on July 21
This mill complex at Uxbridge had been a hub of manufacturing for Bernat, once based in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. The town of Uxbridge was the site of Bernat's main manufacturing unit in the later 20th century. This was the third largest yarn mill in the U.S. The Bernat mill and the town of Uxbridge have a role in U.S. history, and the history of the American Textile manufacturing.
"Bernat" is a trademark of an existing company (Bernat.com) which manufactures yarn products.
The original mill, the "Capron Mill", was built in 1820, by John Capron, the father of Colonel John Capron
, on the Mumford River
at Uxbridge Center. The first power looms
for woolens were introduced at the Capron Mills. These were made in a machine shop at Cumberland, Rhode Island
. These were reportedly the first power looms ever made for woolens. The first manufacture of "Satinets
" was at this mill. Uxbridge became famous for its Cashmere wool
. The mill was featured in the August 24
edition of Time Magazine,
in an article entitled, "The Pride of Uxbridge" as the site of the Bachman Uxbridge Worsted Company
, which was then one of the most successful textile mills
in New England
. The Time Magazine
article interviewed the CEO of Bachman Uxbridge Worsted Company, Harold Walter
. This site was the hub of seven plants throughout the U.S., and some of its wool synthetic blends dominated the women's fashion industry in the early 1950s.
Research into textiles at Bachman Uxbridge Worsted Company produced a range of blended fabrics, including the "wool-nylon serge" used for army uniforms. The original U.S Air Force Uniform produced at the factory was dubbed and patented "Uxbridge Blue" or "Uxbridge 1683", after blue dye color selected at Bachman Uxbridge. This dye was used in the manufacture of uniforms from 1947. American Civil War uniforms, World War I Khaki overcoats, and World War II U.S. Army uniforms have all been manufactured in this mill. Latch hook yarn kits were developed by Bernat, here circa 1968 and the name of the mill changes to the Bernat Mill, then the third largest U.S. yarn mill.
In the early morning of July 21
, a fire erupted at the historic mill, devastating the complex on Mendon and Depot Street. 600 firefighters, from 66 communities, battled the blaze, but the complex was nearly totally destroyed. At the time of the fire, the 400,000 square feet structure, had ceased operating as a mill and had been converted into space containing 65 small businesses. The business losses following the fire were estimated in the millions of dollars and between 300-500 people lost their jobs.
The two-state incident command
, disaster response
was viewed as a regional model. The 10 alarm Uxbridge Mill fire, made National and local news for nearly a week. Senator John Kerry
from his committee in the U.S. Senate
to support the business owners impacted by the fire. Governor Deval Patrick
left the National Governor's Conference in Michigan
to return to Uxbridge to be present for the immediate recovery. The Uxbridge Mill fire was the state's first major disaster of his new administration. Governor Patrick invoked immediate state and federal aide to victims and businesses of the Uxbridge mill fire. Hurricane Katrina
funds are being applied to the relief efforts. The fire marshall's report concluded that there was unpermitted welding occurring in a mill business, the sprinkler was not operable, and that both contributed to the fire. Mill owners planned to rebuild.