Manufactured at Grove Mills, on the Wandle in Mitcham.
First manufactured in 1903 by a company called ‘The Patent Horse Hair Co. Ltd.’, ‘lyxhayr’ was a curled fibre of vegetable origin for many upholstery filling applications. Developed by a chemist called Mr Holmes, the process was patented.
As well as hair from horses, wool or cotton fibre, called ‘flock’, was used in filling mattresses and furniture. Sometimes, hog hair was mixed in with the horse hair to reduce cost. Animal hair however was not hygienic, and the company’s advertisement in 1907 said that the Public Analyst for Hackney, Dr Leo Taylor, had found that the hair contained almost the same amount of bacteria as London sewage.
Being made from vegetable, this artificial horse hair was free of bacteria.
In 1905 the company changed its name to Lyxhayr Ltd. and Mr W. A. Dickinson was its Managing Director. Mattresses made with lyxhayr were popular with hospitals but cheaper, less hygienic ones were still being sold.
Mr Dickinson was one of those who lobbied parliament leading to the Rag Flock Act of 1911, which was the first attempt to regulate the abuses.
At one o’clock on Saturday morning a fire broke out the Grove Mills, Mitcham, an artificial horsehair manufactory. The fire brigades from Croydon, Sutton, and Mitcham attended, but the four-storey brick building was completely gutted. The damage is estimated at from £5,000 to £6,000.
Source: Western Chronicle – Friday 05 February 1909 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)