Famously known as the Manchester of East during the yesteryears, the leatherworking of Kanpur is renowned in India and across the globe. Harnesses and horse saddles are being produced by the craftsmen of this city for well over a century now, though a GI tag for Kanpur Saddlery was approved very recently in 2014. Tag along as we take you on a journey through the annals of history to discover how Kanpur established itself on the world map with its unique equestrian apparel.
Path to becoming a saddlery hub
Industrial development came to Kanpur along with the Britishers who turned the city into a fortress, post the Satti Chaura revolt in 1857. British India Corporation was set up in the 19th-century to cater to the needs of the force deployed, which included manufacturing leather boots, horse saddles and uniforms, along with other things.
Among the several factories established, Government Harness and Saddlery Factory, which started supplying goods in 1860 and Cooper Allen & Co., which began manufacturing in 1880, were most prominent. The leatherworkers then trained by the Britishers, passed on their skill and learnings to the younger generations and consequently, Kanpur emerged as one of the saddlery hubs in the world!
While Walsall, England, is famed to be the world's saddlery capital, rising production costs have forced the work to be outsourced to Kanpur and these developments in saddle manufacturing prompted it to be GI tagged to the city. It also led to the establishment of related educational training institutes, such as the Leather Technology Department at HBTU and IIT Kanpur co-sponsored, International Institute of Saddlery Technology and Export Management.
Saddlery goods are produced only in a handful of other countries, including the US, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Sweden, Italy and Denmark. Through its contributions in leatherworking, Kanpur has put India among these nations and established the city as a renowned centre for leather good. So if you're you're looking for premium quality leather goods or training in leather technology, do not miss out on a tour of this city, after the pandemic gone for good!