In 1847, the Fosse Way near Stoke-Under-Ham (now Stoke-Sub-Hamdon) was the main changing post for the horses on the Bath to Exeter road. Gloves were in high demand and sensing an opportunity Richard Southcombe, who had recently arrived from Torrington in Devon, began to make fabric gloves for the coachmen. By 1865 with a growing reputation for quality, sales had surged beyond the requirements of the coachmen and around 36,000 pairs of gloves were being made each week. A new main factory premises was needed to cope with expanding demand and to handle the manufacturing of more durable and refined leather gloves. It was completed it 1873 and the company has remained at this location ever since. Richard died in 1885, and his two sons Sydney and Ralph carried on the business, diversifying into gaiters, spats, sailor suits and shirts.
Sydney's sons, Douglas, Dick and Wilfred Southcombe took over the business in 1928, heralding a boom period for leather gloves. Southcombe Gloves provided UK made leather gloves to many high street shops and department stores and the company enjoyed a considerable period of expansion as a consequence. Douglas died in 1973 and the current Chairman, Michael Southcombe took over. He was joined by his son David, the current Managing Director, in 1995. This period was a very tough one for British manufacturing as many department stores abandoned their "Made In Britain" stance and started to import cheaper leather gloves directly from China. To combat this, David led the development of the technical leather side of the business and today Southcombe Gloves export their world-class protective leather gloves to over 40 countries.
The company expanded production of technical gloves during the 1990's and into the new millennium focusing on the gloving requirements of the emergency services, police and military customers. In 2008 David's wife Caroline joined the business as Creative Director and, with a combination of Southcombe family glove knowledge and her own expertise gained from working as a fashion copywriter in London, set up the Southcombe brand of fashion gloves with a tiny range of five styles. Since then, Southcombe Gloves has gone from strength to strength as the quality and workmanship has become more widely appreciated. The range has grown considerably and has earned much positive praise from both stockists and press. With more expansion planned, a secure future is assured for this family-owned and run UK manufacturer and local employer.