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A. Weldon Kent was a painter in Chico Ca.

In his later years he had an art studio and gave painting lessons, this is when I met him and acquired a painting of his.

I don't remember what the "A" in his name meant but it was presented as a trivia question on a local radio station.

A. Weldon in this early years had made a very successful business as an interior decorator. He was a person of note in the community, and was hard to miss driving his dashing cream colored Bentley and appearing Golf courses with his Poodle at his side and his Cockatiel on his shoulder.

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Q: Does anyone know about an artist named A Weldon Kent?
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Tell you about the history Allen solly?

The publicity material of Allen Solly , claiming that they were established in 1744 (the date Thomas took on his first apprentice in 1744), is not, strictly speaking, true. In fact the Solly family ,from Kent,did not enter the Business until 1832. Prior to that it operated under the name of Allen and Phillips, and later John Allen and Sons. To avoid confusion, in what follows I will refer to the business as "Allen Solly" In the very early days hosiery manufacture the work was out sourced (as we would say) The Master Craftsman would supply the worker with a frame, the raw materials( cotton, silk or wool) and collect and sell the finished product The workers (called stockingers )worked from their homes which were small and poorly lit cottages. Some of them preferred to play cricket during the day and work at night, using oil lamps. It was very delicate and skilled work . An apprenticeship of seven years is testimony to that. Over a period of time men like Thomas could own an increasing number of frames thereby increasing their wealth. The "domestic system ," as it was called , being spread over a wide area, proved in time to be an uneconomical method of production, although it continued on a diminishing scale, well into the 20th Century. The factory system which began to emerge in the early part of the 19th Century, , proved to be more economical. When men and machines were brought together under one roof, discipline could be imposed. productivity increased, and labour costs reduced. Labour specialisation and the use of power driven machines further increased production and reduced costs. (this has a familiar and modern ring about it.) The output of stockingers increased so much that the hosiery market became saturated This lead to unemployment amongst the stockingers, and a great deal of industrial unrest, spurred on by the Luddites. (For more about the Luddites see Wikipedia Article.) Although at this time Allen Solly did not have a factory, preferring to retain the domestic system, they were among the most enterprising hosiers, being one of the first to export their merchandise. There is evidence of hosiery being sent to America in 1811. By 1851 Allen Solly were exporting to all the principal European Countries as well as to America. By this time the Company had gained a reputation for fine quality hosiery and members of Royal Families, Indian Princes, and Presidents of the U.S.A., enjoyed the garments turned out by successive generations of craftsmen. Having built up a world wide reputation for high quality goods and the use of only the highest quality silk, cotton and wool; Allen Solly found that the domestic system was now unable to meet the demand. In 1860 the first factory was built on the site of an old oast house, at Godalming in Surrey. The following advertisement appeared in a Boston newspaper in 1887 ALLEN AND SOLLY FINE UNDERWEAR AND HOSIERY Our experience with their goods is so entirely satisfactory that we wish to draw the attention of those who have not yet tested them to theirgreat and superior excellence. Their softness, elasticity, and non shrinking qualities, make them the perfection of comfort. HEWINS AND HOLLISMEN'S OUTFITTERS In 1888, the Company decided to build a purpose built factory on the outskirts of Arnold, a village near Nottingham. Such was the quality of the factory and its surrounds that it was described , by an American visitor, as a model , in the practical sense , and in the way it made concessions to Philanthropy and Aestheticism. "In America," he said, "Such places were few and far between." Changes and improvements continued to be made right through to the first quarter of the 20th Century. Although Allen Solly engaged in most branches of fully fashioned knitwear they specialised in 6 and 3 rib hose and half hose. It was to this that they owed the greater part of their success and reputation. Quality and service remained at the heart of the Allen Solly philosophy, so that when, in 1946, an American Millionaire placed an order for a dozen pairs of socks , in a pattern so intricate that only a manually operated loom could perform the task, all minds turned to finding a solution . The Company retained such a machine which had been decommissioned some twenty years earlier. A former employee was tracked down and , at the age of 91, showed that he had not lost any of his old skills. In the 1960's Allen Solly became part of Coats Viyella. Today (2007) Allen Solly is just a label and production is based in India. (For those interested a Google search of "Allen Solly" might be worthwhile) The factory at Arnold has been partially dismantled and what remains is used by a number of small businesses . The original knitting room with its large window space is classified as a heritage building. The last Allen to be involved in the Company was Lionel Allen, a great grandson of James Roger (above) If we take 1744 as our stating date and the closing date of 1975, we can say that the Allens were involved in the manufacture of high quality garments for 231 years. A fine record indeed. Modern production methods are a far cry from those used by our Ancestors and their employees and do not require the same skills that they had. Nor is the same pride taken in the finished product. Ah well, that is progress, I suppose. Today's methods can best be described as; "Cut and sew." To date I have not been able to find a retailer in NZ who could sell me something with the Allen Solly label. I dare say that if I visited America. I would not have the same problem. ,From Keith Allen Masterton NZ a direct descendant oF Thomas Allen (above)