Alan Paine

The rich history


In 1907, William Paine founded this famous knitting brand in Godalming, Surrey, and called it Paines of Godalming. Godalming was then a small town with a long history of wool production. William discovered some knitting machines in an old warehouse behind the shop, taught himself and others to knit, and began manufacturing knitted garments, arguably developing the first cable knit jumpers.

By 1920, the company had expanded to supplying speciality shops – mainly by adding the Club Colour Trim to a plain cable jumper. The swatch book contained a small steel wool for each customer that could be used to make a jumper in the required club, school or regimental colours.

Cable jumpers were becoming increasingly popular at this time. During this decade, Alan Paine’s most famous unofficial patron, the Prince of Wales (later called Edward VIII), ordered his own personalised jerseys, finished in his regimental colours.

By 1940, Paines had gained such an unrivalled reputation for the quality of his craftsmanship that the company was commissioned to make woollen jerseys for the British armed forces, especially the navy. By 1942, Alan Paine’s workforce grew to 400 employees in Godalming and 200 in Wales.

In 1950, Alan, William’s son, took over Paine of Godalming and changed the company name to Alan Paine. During the 1950s and 1960s, Alan Paine sought new sales opportunities while researching new machines and training his highly skilled knitters and employees. He reinvigorated the company and began a new era of expansion and growth. It also became the beginning of expansion in the U.S.A.

In 1970, the company was awarded the second Queen’s Award for Outstanding Export Achievement. In 1973, Alan Paine was asked by the Worshipful Company of Woolmen to knit two vicuna jumpers as a wedding present for Princess Anne (daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip) and Captain Mark Philips.

Alan’s eldest son Richard was appointed general manager in 1976. His youngest son Nigel played a key role in developing the North American market until his retirement in 2010.

The company had several owners throughout the 1990s before being bought by James Hinton, the current owner, in 2006. James joined the company in 1986 as a sales representative and over the years worked his way up to sales director and general manager in 2003. Following James Hinton’s purchase, Alan Paine returned to his roots and the company re-entered family ownership.

In 2009, Alan Paine launched his countrywear collection with stylish tweeds, waterproof jackets and trousers, versatile fleeces, quilts, wax and accessories.