Generations of wool classers have worked to ensure that the clips of the properties they service present their wool consistently in a way that meets market demand.
In Australia’s early years, the most famous and influential of these were often Yorkshire men from Bradford, the centre of the world’s wool manufacturing industry. They knew wool thoroughly from both sides, and did much to guide the station owners in their breeding and buying programs. They were regarded as friends and equals by many of the squatters, and, as such, slept and dined at ‘Government House’ as the station homestead was sarcastically called by the shearers and shedhands.
Foremost among them was Thomas Shaw, who came to Australia from Yorkshire in 1843, just as the Western Districts and the border country with South Australia was coming into wool production. He saw poor breeding, and bad handling of wool, ruining what had promised to be an outstandingly successful industry, and worked consistently with breeders and flock owners to produce fine, Australian merino wool, the best in the world. Another such classer who worked in this area was Joshua Sugden. Both worked with the Learmonth’s of Eraidoune, whose stud was the foundation of many of the best station flocks in the region.