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A bleachfield or croft was an open area of land (usually a field) used for spreading cloth and fabrics on the ground to be bleached by the action of the sun and water.[1] They were usually found in and around mill towns in Great Britain and were an integral part of textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution.

Bleachfields were very common in parts of the Scottish Lowlands, particularly Perthshire, Renfrewshire and the outskirts of the City of Glasgow. For instance in 1782 alone, Perthshire produced 1.7 million yards of linen worth £81,000 (£7,776,000 as of 2020[2]). Linen manufacture became by the 1760s a major industry in Scotland, second only to agriculture.[3] They were also common in northern England; for instance, the name of the town of Whitefield is thought to derive from the medieval bleachfields used by Flemish settlers.[4]

Bleachfields became redundant shortly after the discovery of chlorine in the late 18th century.[1] A bleachfield is similar to, but should not be confused with, a tenterground.

See also



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  • Waterston, Charles D. (2008), Perth Entrepreneurs: the Sandemans of Springfield, ISBN 978-0-905452-52-4 
  • Wilson, John F (1979), A History of Whitefield, John F Wilson, ISBN 0-9506795-1-8 

fr:Blanchiment (textile)

  1. 1.0 1.1 Aspin, Chris (1981), The Cotton Industry, Shire Publications Ltd, p. 24, ISBN 0-85263-545-1 
  2. UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Measuring Worth: UK CPI.
  3. Waterston 2008, pp. 27–33.
  4. Wilson 1979, p. 1.