Shoddy material

I was writing about nut trees and looking at the instructions given on their planting and care in Practical Gardening and Food Production in Pictures by Richard Sudell – a book my mum had given my dad in 1948, probably first printed before the war. Mr Sudell recommended not using quick-acting nitrogenous fertilisers, but fur or hair waste or shoddy material as ‘the most satisfactory’.

I felt as if I should know what shoddy material is, I know the word shoddy, obviously meaning badly or carelessly made, cheap and not good value. It would mostly be describing an article, but it could be used to describe a person’s behaviour. However, that doesn’t make it clear what shoddy material is – actual material that isn’t well made perhaps? I wasn’t sue so looked it up.

I came across this very interesting page:

which explains that shoddy, and the mysterious sounding mungo, ‘are materials produced from the recycling of wool waste’. Shoddy was a cheap material, often used for making soldiers uniforms, and mungo was similar but using short fibres to produce felt.

I then came across another interesting page:

which gives even more detail into the production and uses of shoddy (and mungo) and also explains something which I had never thought of before, about a word I must have used hundreds of times, duffel. Nearly everyone had duffel coats when I was younger, it was almost compulsory wear for students – and in fact bottle green duffel coats were compulsory as part of my school uniform! At the time it seemed very progressive – thick, warm, cosy, hard-wearing, I loved my school duffel coat with its horn toggles. This is what Wikipedia says about duffel coats:

A duffel coat  is a coat made from duffel, a coarse, thick, woolen material. The name derives from Duffel, a town in the province of Antwerp in Belgium where the fabric originated.

Obviously duffel came from wherever woollen cloth was made as it was a by=product but the town of Duffel gave its name. Another constant in my youth was the duffel bag – that too was originally made from duffel, but by the time I used them, they were made from a thick canvas.

The things you learn from unexpected sources!! My featured image is of my school where I wore my duffel coat all through the winter!

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