The Mill At War

Coldharbour Mill, WW1 and WW2

putteeColdharbour Mill played an important role in the manufacturing, production and distribution of wartime products such as the “Puttee” and later the “Fox Improved Puttee” (FIP) which were used to protect soldiers in battle.

The word “Puttee” means “Bandage” in Hindi and is used to describe a length of fabric which was wound around the leg for protection when wearing shorts.

World War 1
At the time of World War 1, puttees were 8 feet in length and were included as part of the military uniform. They were worn between a soldier’s breeches and boots and were popular with both infantry and cavalry.


The Fox Improved Puttee was particularly successful due to the curve steamed into the puttee which made it easier to put on.

foxs-spiral-puttees-003As uniforms changed from breeches to trousers Fox Brothers adapted the puttees to meet the new requirements. This shortened the puttees to 2 feet in length so they just covered the ankle.

During the wars, over 12 million pairs of puttees were made by Fox Brothers along with over 7 million yards of khaki military uniform. This paved the way for the evolution of the fabric to be used in general workwear and modern day business suits.

When visiting Coldharbour Mill be sure to see our World War 1 exhibition (opening soon) and also our collection of puttees in our World War 2 exhibition. Both exhibitions contains a fascinating insight into this period of military history.