ABC Magazine Stories, Australia, Bus Features

Camira still committed to evolving after 200 year history

Since John Holdsworth started his own worsted spinning mill in Halifax, England more than 200 years ago, Camira has constantly been committed to evolving its moquette fabric technology

In the global transport industry, rich history is part of many major brands. From vehicle OEMs to operating companies, family businesses have incredible stories to tell. None may be more enduring than that of Camira Fabrics.

While a 2006 management buy-out brought the Camira name into being, the transport fabric sector of the company goes all the way back to 1822 in the UK town of Halifax. It was there that John Holdsworth established John Holdsworth & Co and followed in his late father’s footsteps into the wool textile industry. 

Upon the death of his father George, Holdsworth founded his own worsted spinning mill at age 25. More than 200 years later, the brand, now evolved into Camira, is synonymous within the global transport market for its high quality fabrics for seats.

“With 200 years of manufacturing history, Camira has a wealth of knowledge and experience in all upholstery and ancillary textiles,” Camira APAC transport business manager Rodney Peterson told ABC. 

“While Camira’s 200-year anniversary in textile manufacturing was officially celebrated last year, it remains focused on the continual evolution of its products.”

In the decades following Holdsworth’s foundation of the company, his four sons helped develop the local business from a worsted spinning brand to also weaving specialised fabrics for railways and shipping companies around the world. 

When Holdsworth passed away in 1857, John Holdsworth & Co had more than 2,000 employees and new offices in the UK. The late 1800s saw the company consolidate its position as a transport industry supplier, including for the first locomotives to travel on the London Underground in 1863.

Moquette is key to Camira’s seating evolution

It was from this stage in its history that the modern day Camira focus on a certain product came to be. When London’s tube system opened in the early throes of the 20th century, Holdsworth & Co became a key member of the Moquette Manufacturers’ Association. Now, more than a century later, moquette remains as Camira’s core product for the bus, coach and rail market.

“With its high wool content, moquette has been the trusted seat fabric option in all public transport modes for over 200 years,” Peterson says.

“Moquette, or plush velour, is derived from the French word for carpet and is a woven pile fabric in which cut or un-cut threads form a short dense cut or loop pile.

“Moquette is also available in 100 per cent polyester through our Orient range, which is offered for public transport operations where higher flammability isn’t a requirement or where the price point dictates a cheaper alternative.”

Moquette has become a critical part of Holdsworth & Co, and eventually Camira’s success throughout the past couple of centuries. But what is so good about the material to make it a major hit in the transport sector?

Peterson says moquette’s safety and durability factors – the fabric is proven to be incredibly durable and comfortable for everyday public transport use, while the wool is natural, renewable and has low flame, smoke and toxicity properties – make it an enticing choice for many transport companies. 

Moquette’s continued increased safety ratings in the flame, smoke and toxicity areas align with the ideal seating fabric in the Australian bus and coach industry, where comfort, safety and durability remain primary focuses for many operators.

Camira’s evolution of moquette was on full display during the brand’s 200-year anniversary when it revitalised its Aura range to now contain 200 patterns in combinations of standardised and colourway designs. 

“Outside of the Aura range, the Vigor product has been the go-to wool moquette choice and has also recently been revamped to include more reworked patterns,” Peterson says.

“Being a leading fabric manufacturer, we can manufacture custom made and bespoke fabrics from either artwork and concepts that are supplied or designed in house by our design team.”

The development of worldwide transport fabric may have started with John Holdsworth & Co’s iconic plush wool velour fabrics, but nowadays modern fabrics venture into new spheres of technology. A recent technological breakthrough for moquette can be seen in Camira’s in-house capability to print on moquette through its Camira Print range.

Peterson says the traditional dyed yarn route has limitations on the number of colours and layout of patterns it allows, but Camira Print means that “virtually anything” can be printed on fabric for seats, wall-sides, ceilings, entries and exits.

“It’s truly up to the imagination to take advantage of this process,” he says.

“In today’s world, our in-house developed treatment options, such as the anti-COVID Staysafe option and the anti-stain, anti-bacteria Defender product, are examples of the important role that we play in the safety, comfort and health of public transport passengers.”

Camira has innovated with its Camira Print range

Moquette may be a major driver of Camira’s success over the years, but the company is now much more than the popular fabric. Drawing from Camira’s ranges and capabilities in the contract and commercial sector, a new range of products, such as leather, vinyl and other textiles, are being used for jobs in the bus and coach market. 

These materials’ wide range of textures, compositions, weights, colours and designs is helping to modernise fleets in the coach and tourism sectors, with Camira spending the past year developing its product range to preserve the company’s heritage while also aligning with current technology. 

Camira has also become a major international brand, with Peterson leading the Melbourne office and warehouse to serve Australasian bus and coach brands. Alongside this, the Australasian Camira team is supplying and servicing fabrics, ensuring ongoing repair and maintenance continues for seat manufacturers, upholsterers and bus and coach owners.

“At any one time, our Australian warehouse’s stocks are around 20,000 metres in well over 100 unique patterns,” Peterson says.

“There’s also quick access to stocks and production from the Camira UK manufacturing site in West Yorkshire. The numbers might seem quite surprising, but this large array of patterns and fabrics are needed to be on hand to service and support manufacturers and operators in the Australian transport industry.”

Locally, all Australian bus and coach seat queries are serviced by Peterson and Joe Qi from the Melbourne office and distribution facilities, while New Zealand is represented by an agent in motor body hardware supplier Reid & Twiname.

Throughout the next phase of the company’s evolution, Peterson is intent on ensuring the Camira brand continues to grow with the latest technological developments while also maintaining a strong link to its remarkable history.

“At Camira we pride ourselves on having 200 years of manufacturing history and the strong and long-lasting relationships that we enjoy with Australia’s bus and coach industry,” Peterson says.

“Our Australian office is also responsible for the APAC region, spanning from China, Korea and India to Fiji and all in between.

“Camira is committed to using its more than 200 years of experience to demonstrate professionalism, capability and service to these growth areas.” 

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