In 1804, William Blake wrote the poem best known as ‘Jerusalem’ in which he writes: “And did the Countenance Divine, Shine forth upon our clouded hills? And was Jerusalem builded here, Among these dark Satanic Mills?”
There are many interpretations of Blakes words in this poem, most commonly with the phrase ‘dark satanic mills’ referring to the industrial revolution. During the 18th and 19th centuries, Britain played a huge part in the industrialisation of the world with textiles being a dominant industry during this time. Factory life moved at such a rapid pace during this time, and it has been said that Blake was writing about breaking through to the eternal world from the current-day England.
Based on the working conditions of the factories in this era, it could be understood why Blake would refer to them as ‘satanic’. During the industrial revolution there were many structural, physical and psychological changes, and it is thought Blake was referring to the corruption that took place during this time, clouding Jerusalem and the eternal promise of Christianity.
It was during this industrial revolution that John Crombie established his first woollen mill at Cothal Mills in Aberdeen, beginning the story of Crombie and using only the finest natural fibres; thereby establishing an unrivalled reputation throughout Britain. During this turning point in history, the standard of living in the UK began to increase and a modern capitalist economy began to emerge.
Although Blake viewed the mills of the time as dark and satanic, today he would have to accept that the innovative time he was a part of is now reminisced upon as pioneering and positive. Incredibly, more than 200 years later, Crombie remains an iconic British brand creating timeless designs crafted from the finest raw materials sourced from the UK and beyond.