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A bleachfield or croft was an open area of land (usually a field) used for spreading cloth and fabrics on the ground to be bleached by the action of the sun and water. They were usually found in and around mill towns in Great Britain and were an integral part of textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution.

In the 18th century there were many linen bleachfields in Scotland, particularly in Perthshire, Renfrewshire in the Scottish Lowlands, and the outskirts of Glasgow. Linen manufacture became by the 1760s a major industry in Scotland, second only to agriculture. For instance in 1782 alone, Perthshire produced 1.7 million yards of linen worth £81,000 (£8,980,000 as of 2017).

Bleachfields were also common in northern England; for instance, the name of the town of Whitefield is thought to derive from the medieval bleachfields used by Flemish settlers.

Bleachfields became redundant shortly after the discovery of chlorine in the late 18th century: however, many of the factories bleaching with chlorine continued to be called bleachfields.

A bleachfield is similar to, but should not be confused with a tenterground.

  • Waterston, Charles D. (2008), Perth Entrepreneurs: the Sandemans of Springfield, ISBN  
  • Wilson, John F (1979), A History of Whitefield, John F Wilson, ISBN  


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