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Gaywool...... a colourful History

To understand where the  Gaywool name originated we believe that  it requires some explanation. It starts with some colourful early history and carriers through to the present day.   

Early History

  • In 1807 John Youl, was sent as a layman  preacher  to Tahiti  in the Pacific islands to work as a missionary .During this time many of his companions at the missionary had come to an unfortunate end and found themselves in hot water with the native population . Luckily for him, John Youl was not a very well built man. He was tall & skinny .He had been observed by the natives shaving every morning with his trusty  razor. The natives Tahitians gave him a chance of survival if he could shave the chiefs beard and also the other men in the village without spilling any blood. This he managed to achieve and some time later, he made  his way to the new colony of New South Wales (Australia).
  • After settling in Sydney, NSW John Youl became very good friends with Dr Thomas Arndell. Dr Arndell  was appointed as the assistant surgeon to the new settlement of NSW . He was one of seven assistant surgeons to Dr White  on the first fleet to Australia with Governor Phillip.  He was later appointed as surgeon at Paramatta . Because of this friendship, the name Arndell, was incorporated into John Youls family name.  In 1810,  John Youl married Jane Loder and they named their  first son James Arndell Youl.
  • In 1815 John Youl was ordained as an Angligan priest . In 1818 he was  commissioned by Earl Bathurst to become the first chaplain at Port Darymple, Northern Van Diemens Land (Tasmania). Reverend Youl  & his family arrived in Van Diemens Land in 1818 to start work in the new Parish.
  •  James Arndell Youl became a successful grazier but is best remembered for introducing trout & salmon to Australasian waters. Early attempts in 1841 & 1852 of transporting ova from England to Australia had failed and also shipments in 1860 & 1862 but finally  in 1864, with the help of many people, thousands of ova were packed in moss and stored in the ships ice-vault , and the living ova arrived safely in Tasmania.

Foreward to the late 1960’s

  • The family connection to Dr Arndell continued and in 1967 Gillian Arndel Youl (married name Thomas), a farmer and enthusiastic hand spinner of wool started a business specializing in breeding coloured sheep for handspinners & weavers. To start her flock she initially purchased sheep from other farmers in the district . She  started her breeding program with 10 throwback corriedale ewes. She then purchased a Border Leicester Ram in order to obtain a long fleece. Over a period of time she built her flock of sheep & her business and also started her own shop. Her customers were far and wide and the wool was sent to  many parts of Australia and also to the United States, Canada & Holland. Gill also became the first distributor of Ashford Spinning wheels in Tasmania.
  • With her family involved in the business her son Chris ,suggested that there should be even more colour in the business and with the assistance of an Industrial Chemist, Barry Harding from Coats Patons Launceston developed some easy to use, quality dyes for the home dyer. In 1974 the dyes were first packed and distributed in an old shearing shed on the family farm Gayfield, Longford Tasmania.  Years later the dyes were now being sent & distributed to many parts of the world including, the USA, Canada, United Kingdom & Japan.

The  name of the business came from the initials of Gillian Arndell Youl. (GAY.) Her husband was Richard Field Thomas and the business was originally called   Gayfield Wool and then later changed to Gaywool.

Gaywool  Dyes  continues to be in the family with the name of Arndell given to some family members. . Gill is now in her 80’s and her enthusiasm and energy for life is admired by her many family & friends.

Australian Womens Weekly 1976

Check out the story published in 1976.

Australian WomensWeekly 1976