E. & G. HINDLE AND E. & G. HINDLE LTD.
Written by A. I. Haythornthwaite.
© A. I. Haythornthwaite 1962
I have written this mainly for myself, but if any members of the family are interested, they are welcome.
The first part is from what I was told by Ephraim Hindle, and written down in the 1930’s, with additions from old records. E & G. H. Ltd is hearsay and records up to 1928, after that at first hand. I have tried to stick to fact and omit opinion. Point of view depends on where you are standing. More space seems to have been taken with later years, but that was the part I saw best.
By Ian Haythornthwaite.
My father typed this up after he retired from the cotton trade in 1960, when E & G’s was put into liquidation and wound up by the shareholders. I scanned the typescript into Microsoft Word in 1998. This was to preserve the record in a more stable form (less vulnerable to the ravages of damp and vermin) ands also to add explanatory footnotes for the benefit of those who come after.
By Carl Haythornthwaite.
Ephraim Hindle was a cashier and clerk with D. W. Taylor who were engaged in the dhootie (1) trade with India. It was late in 1878 when, with his brother George, they first thought of running their own business.
This was a year of the cotton riots. The mayor of Blackburn had had to read the Riot Act in the market place and a company of the military had been drafted to the town. These were following one section of the mob up Preston New Road when another section came out to Wilpshire and attacked Clayton Grange, the home of Colonel Jackson, chairman of the Manufacturers' Association.
The Colonel got away over the fields before the mob arrived. Rumour has it that he was hardly dissuaded by the police from holding them off, or at least causing considerable bodily harm, with a shot-gun. At any rate they burnt his house.
An image of Clayton Grange, the home of Colonel Jackson
About two days later Ephraim was standing on the steps of the town hall, one of the few safe places in the town for anyone connected with the administrative side of the trade. A hay cart backed up to the steps. He thought little of it, knowing the cavalry were on town, until he saw one of the sentries holding his bayonet at him. Turning round, he saw the haycart discharging a mixed load of manacled prisoners with their attendant detectives, this being the only way they could get through the town without interference. The prisoners were from Belthorne, and had been taken while trying to dispose of silver looted from Clayton Grange.
Clayton Grange was a stone house on Ribchester Rd. (2), opposite Vicarage lane. It was rebuilt after the fire and pulled down in 1955 and broken up into small building lots.
It was soon after these riots that Ephraim left his job, to
his employer's regret, and started agenting Turkey Red (3) . This was not much of a success and shortly after - he dropped it and joined his brother George in the Commercial Mill, Novas.
An image of Commercial Mill Chimney, Nova Scotia
There were about six hundred looms in this shed and they had arranged to take two hundred, while another firm ran the remainder and the engine. A man named Hopwood owned the mill, which had been empty some time. After a delay the other party backed out. They were already involved elsewhere in the town and could not handle the extra loomage.
This left E. & G. Hindle high and dry, but they managed, by putting a smaller bore in the single-action engine and increasing the pressure, to start the two hundred looms on their own, eventually absorbing the whole shed.
After a few years' steady trade they took Hollinshead Mill at Tockholes, They were certainly there with 180 looms in June 1883. They rented it, of course, as they had rented their other mill. Hollinshead Mill had been empty some years and was in very poor condition. Maybe this kept the rent down.
A plan of Hollinshead Mill at Tockholes.
In those days of horse transport the place was miles from anywhere. They dug their own coal from the hillside for the boiler and also sold it to their employees in the village. The price was 6/- (4) a ton. In 1883 the whole boiler house stock was valued at 16/3. The same accounts show a dogcart at £17 and a bay horse called Charlie at £35, and various cows and geese at the farm.
Their cloth was sold in Bolton and later in Manchester. It was all mulls (5) to start with not liking to compete in dhooties with D. W. Taylor whom Ephraim had left.
They stayed at Tockholes eight years till 1885/6, then turned it over to six Furthergate lads who formed the Hollinshead Mill Co. William Henry Howarth was one of them; his sister married George Hindle. These folk stayed a few years at Tockholes and then came down into Blackburn, bringing the name with them. The mill was broken down to make way for the Liverpool gathering ground (6). It was neatly situated on the watershed with one drain falling into Liverpool's supply and the other into Darwen's, and there was much dissension between the towns as to who should receive the refuse. They were glad to see it go.
An image of Bastfield Mill
A lot of Irish labour came into the town about this time, as they were having a little more trouble at home than usual. Apart from these, most of the weavers were old handloom weavers or one generation off. There are still many old cottages about the district with windows spaced out to the width of a loom and easily recognisable as weaving "shops". To this day the older folk still call a weaving shed a "shop". Most handloom weavers worked for a "putter-out" or merchant, coming to town on Saturday with the week's output, to collect pay and yarn. Up to 1942 the weaver always paid carriage on both yarn and cloth.
On 30 Nov 1885 Bastfield (Cob Wall) was leased and bought with the help of a mortgage, dated 30 Nov 1888, from William Almond.
One of the earliest available trading accounts shows sales of cloth, twelve months to Sept 1894 - £151,082. In 1884, 60s (7) beams were taken in stock at Commercial Mill at 131/2d lb. Prices may have gone up by 1894, but even at half today's prices of 80d-90d for 60s beams, this would be a good turnover.
Swallow St. Mill (Latherbox) deeds go back to 1823. We have a conveyance dated 3 June 1858 from the Archbishop of Canterbury to Mr. Henry Ward of "two pieces of land, part of an estate called the Brookhouse Farm, with the dwelling houses and other buildings thereon". Mr. Ward seemed to thrive on mortgages. He mortgaged it to Charles Peel in 1888 and conveyed it in 1890. It is first mentioned in E. & G. Hindle's connection on 19 June 1890 when Mr. Peel leased it to Ephraim & George Hindle. In 1891 he sold to Brookhouse Spinning Co. Ltd, who sold it to E & G Hindle Ltd in Aug 1937. It had been leased all this time, but the catch is that in 1919 all the ordinary shares in Brookhouse were bought by E & G Hindle Ltd, who carried on spinning under that name until 1937 when the spinning side was sold to the Spindles Board, to be broken up.
The engine was dated 1874 and was so well balanced that in 1950 a penny could be stood on edge on the engine bed and the engine stopped and started without shaking it over (8). The flywheel was 24 feet diameter and weighed over 60 tons.
An image which shows an example of a mill engine.
Royal Mill land was bought in January 1906 and the building carried out at once. It is the most modern shell that we have, single storey, and well laid out. By today's standards too many looms were packed in, making it rather cramped, but no worse than our other mills which have all been re-spaced in recent years. In September 1906 it was in the books at £22,302 with 660 looms, £33.8 a loom. Machinery at £8,029 would include taping and winding machinery and averages £12.2 a loom. Probably the looms were £9-£10 each, new.
Bankfield Mill (Old Firth's) was bought personally by George Hindle, though it was being included in the partnership accounts for September 1905. This contained both spinning and weaving at the same mill. It was bought from John Southworth & Co., four brothers. Many years later Robert Hindle (9) married Marjorie Southworth, daughter of Walter.
George Hindle had three sons, Ephraim Haworth, George and Robert, and four daughters. Ephraim's second wife was Grace Haythornthwaite, they had two children who died only a week or so old. Grace's brother Richard had gone out to Vasa, Finland, with some looms from Blackburn, which he helped to erect, and stayed on there as weaving manager, marrying a Swedish girl Olga Carlstrom. He had six children, but only three sons survived, Frank Richard, Oscar Herbert, Charles Walter, and both parents died young (10). About 1892 Ephraim and Grace brought Frank over from Finland, and in 1894 Herbert aged 12 and Walter 10, and brought them up. Frank and Herbert went into the business and Walter became a Chartered Accountant in Manley, Haythornthwaite & Co (John Norris's (11) grandmother was a Haythornthwaite, Grace's sister).
An advertisement for Howard and Bullough, Ltd.
Frank married George Hindle's daughter Margaret, and Walter married another daughter Alice. Herbert married Mary, daughter of Alfred Hitchon (12), managing director of Howard & Bullough (13), Accrington. Money from their father's estate in Finland was put into the business.
On 25 January 1907 the assets were transferred to E. & G. Hindle Ltd., with directors Ephraim Hindle, George Hindle, Frank R. Haythornthwaite, Ephraim H. Hindle, 0. Herbert Haythornthwaite; additional shareholders being Grace and Elizabeth Hindle.
The partnership had its good and bad times, but in twenty-nine years it had made two or three thousand pounds grow into £80,000. There does not seem to have been any inflation of book values in the changeover, and shares were issued in accordance with the former individual holdings and loan accounts.
Image of Bankfield Mill, viewed from the canal.
E. & G. Hindle Ltd. was incorporated 25 January 1907 to take over the assets of E, & G. Hindle. These were briefly, Bastfield and Royal Mills, lease of Swallow St, and Bankfield Mill from G. Hindle. The original share capital was £65,000 in £ 10 ordinary shares and £15,000 in £10 5% cumulative preference shares.
The original shareholders were Mr. & Mrs. Ephraim senior, Mr. & Mrs. George senior, F. R. & O. H. Haythornthwaite and Ephraim H. Hindle junior. Ephraim was chairman, George managing director, Frank secretary, and Herbert and Ephie ordinary directors. George Hindle junior became a director 9 May 1908.
A "Profit-sharing" scheme under the heading of "Special Loans for Workpeople" was carried on from the old partnership. Broadly, the individual's capital investment was limited in amount, to say £75; increases were permitted as the investor's rank advanced. To help workpeople to start saving, on occasions the firm would lend them money at fixed interest, not to be withdrawn until fully paid back. Interest was a minimum of 4% and the same as the ordinary shareholders if above that figure up to a maximum of 20%, both figures tax-free. There were about 175 accounts.
In May 1908 the articles were altered to conform with "private" company regulations, and in October 1908 Manley, Haythornthwaite & Co. were appointed auditors in place of Thos Waterworth & Co. The second partner (14) was Charles Walter Haythornthwaite.
In September 1908 it was decided to build an extension to Bankfield Mill for the preparation and weaving of "Fibre Matting". This was an American idea using paper strip twisted into a yarn. It was not very successful, production being considerably higher than sales, and it was wound up in May 1913.
In November 1913 Canton weaving mill, 654 looms, was bought from Joseph Dugdale, bringing the total up to 4,577 looms and 22,000 spindles, with a potential production of three-quarters of a million yards a week.
This yardage would take some selling. A lot would go to India through Manchester. We had dealt with Switzerland since 1904 and were increasing with various other European markets, such as Italy, Poland, Belgium, Austria, Spain etc., with a very big trade, mainly handkerchief cloth to Belfast, and men's linings and umbrella cloths to Bradford. The best makers were in Lancashire and there was free access to most of the world.
View at Brookhouse, Ward Street Mill on the left and Swallow Street Mill on the right, both have been demolished.
In 1914 the war came. There was a big demand and a general upset of trading conditions, as was to be expected. A lot of cloths were made for the government. Part way through an Excess Profits Duty was levied and Income Tax was increased; though tax laws were nothing like as tight as those during the 1939-46 war. Some markets were expanded to dizzy heights; some were cut off or starved. After the war the expanded markets deflated back to normal size, and many of the starved markets had seized the opportunity, made a necessity in the war years, of increasing their own production. When, in peacetime, this production was found uneconomic, it was protected by import duties. There was a post-war boom and slump, but the rot had set in. From 1920-30 average turnover and profits were good but the Wall St. crash in 1929 (15) upset world confidence, unrest in India stopped our biggest market, and practically every export market was protecting its own manufacturers, or, worse still, juggling with currencies.
In May 1916 capital was increased to £120,000 by 3250 £10 ordinary offered proportionately to existing shareholders for cash, and 750 Preference, which were not taken up. In December 1917 it was again increased from £120,000 to £172,500 by transfers from the loan accounts, and the 750 unissued Preference shares were turned into £10 ordinary and issued at £15 each.
On 24 November 1917 a resolution was passed "that we pay Mr Robert Hindle £2 a week while he is in H.M. Forces". - No doubt teaching him to be thrifty. He was made a director in March that year.
At the same time Mr Harral, a mill manager, got £50 as Christmas bonus. One of his sons, Billy, was still a tackler (16) with us at Bastfield up to June 1950. A younger son was head of the Blackburn Electricity Undertaking, later NorthWest Electricity Board. In August 1919 all 2799 ordinary shares in Brookhouse Spinning; Co. at £25 each were bought by the firm and offered to the shareholders, who did not accept. They were retained by the firm until B. S. Co. broke up in 1937. Brookhouse was a spinning and Swallow St. a weaving mill, sharing the same yard and chimney (the tallest in Blackburn), and various other rights to water etc. Swallow St. Mill had been leased from Brookhouse, and technically continued so until 1937. Whether the production was desirable was doubtful, it could easily be absorbed. If it had passed into unfriendly hands the complications could have become unbearable. W. L. Berry was manager at Brookhouse, he later went to manage a mill in Russia.
In January 1920 the capital was increased to £275,000. Of this £15,000 was in Preference shares, £23,750 in ordinary was issued for cash, mainly transferred from the Loan accounts, and £78,750 capitalised from the accumulated reserves of the company.
We have had many agents, though the earlier records have not all been kept. Major Samuel Kinghan was our Belfast agent from 1909, one of the earliest records surviving, until he died in 1940, when his brother-in-law Balfour McGown took it over, joined in 1954 by his son Melville. In 1911 we had Benkel in Warsaw, 1914 Guggenheim in Switzerland followed by Oscar Gross, A. Schmid, Reichenbach, Chas Kuhn. Levy Freres in Brussels before 1921. Buxbaum in Vienna, the two brothers fled from the Nazis to Australia "as far away as they could get", changed their name to Buckland worked up a prosperous business importing dress goods. In Italy the Reiser family seem to have started about 1912 and various others are recorded in Norway, Sweden, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Mulhouse and Cologne.
An image of Swallow Street Mill
New York agency started with Stein Doblin in '24, Carl Kaufman fixed up this agency in St Gall. Later E. & G. Hindle Inc. was started 19 November 1927 in New York with Leonard Stein as a director and Carl Kaufman was in charge of the business at that end when he died in 1959.
September 1925 we leased offices in 1 North Parade Manchester, which, were staffed daily till the war interrupted it around 1940. After the war we had an office in the Royal Exchange building.
In April 1931 we guaranteed an overdraft for Foster Shepherd & Co. Bradford. In November 1931 George Nelson left the partnership after some argument and in Dec 1932 E. & G. Hindle Ltd took over all assets in liquidation of their liability to us, keeping Mr Shepherd on as manager until he died in January 1957 at 80 years old, very active, and at the office when he was taken ill a fortnight before he died. Mr Dawson came in 1953, when Mr Packett retired through ill health and was made manager in Mr Shepherd's place. Through F.S.Co. we had agents in London, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Dublin, Belfast, Auckland N. Z., and Melbourne, Australia.
In Toronto, Christian was appointed in 1936, and Schuller in Montreal 1938.
It is doubtful when we first started weaving artificial silk, since called rayon and manmade fibres. E. & G. Hindle held shares in "The Artificial Silk Spinning Co Ltd" in 1898, and Chardonnet Silk Co Ltd in 1900. It seems a pity they did not pick Courtaulds Ltd instead. In 1927 we signed a bond in connection with Artificial Silk duty draw-back (on goods exported), and we had cross-dyed spun rayon checks prior to 1929 which would be spun from filament waste. The first production of new staple fibre in this country was by Courtaulds in the early 1930s, under the trademark Fibro.
Dividends paid on the ordinary shares for 1914, 1915, and half year March 1916 totalled 20½ %. After the cash increase of capital, two and a half years to December 1917, a total of 70%, and after a further issue for cash in March/April 1918, 55% for the two years to September 1919. In these days all dividend rates were free of tax.
An image of Bankfield Mill.
In January 1920 the ordinary capital was again increased, by capitalising undistributed profits and the Loan accounts. This was perhaps a mistake, as during the following eleven years 71¾% was paid, 27½% in 1920 and 44% in the following ten years, with nil paid in 1926 and 1927. Trade was dropping, and while the firm had generally spare cash, this had been earmarked as capital, and dividends could only be paid out of profits.
In February 1940 this position was reversed. One third of the arrears of Cum. Pref. dividends were cancelled by consent of the shareholders, £1 of each £10 ordinary share was written off as lost, and the ordinary shares were subdivided into £1 shares. Seven years arrears of Cum. Pref. dividend were paid in November.
In November 1942 (registered 21 January 1943) all the cum. pref. shares were repaid in full and 5/- repaid on each £1 ordinary. This left £175,500 in 15/- ordinary, no preference, and the nominal capital was written back to £275,000 with 99,500 £1 shares unissued, but ready for further expansion if and when.
The years 1930-40 were difficult. The old Indian market was gone; Japan was underselling us all over the world wherever her goods were allowed entry.
This was possible for several reasons, manufacturing efficiency being the least. Whether their sales were less than their costs is best answered by the fact that their national borrowings were still unpaid by 1959. They could start off with the benefit of our century of research. They had a closed economy and cheap labour. They had a unified export organisation and government support to sell at any price for export and full permission to recoup on their preserved home market. Some markets put on tariffs to keep them out. India put a tariff on piece-goods and found the garments coming instead. There is also the story about shirts imported at garment tariff with six-yard tails. The Indian importer cut it off and had two shirt-lengths of duty free cloth for every shirt on which he had paid the lower garment-rate duty. We joined a mutual aid rayon export scheme, bulk loom-fodder orders, minor fault complaints vetoed, cutprice yarn, weaving, finishing, and merchanting. It ran for some years with a small success.
In 1929 we bought 100 automatic looms, 10 Northrop pirn changers and 90 Vickers Stafford shuttle changers. They were run mainly on those qualities where the maximum cash benefit would accrue, poplins, jacquard (17), poplins, and filament rayons. In the early 1930's we respaced Swallow St Bottom shed (Ben Greenwood's comment - "We've made the finest shed in Blackburn and now they are complaining they have too far to walk"). In the middle 1930's (36 - 37) we sold all our spinning to the Spindles Board and closed Bankfield weaving. Many of our customers went bankrupt and by 1939 we were down to about 2500 looms, somewhat poorer but still solvent, making any kind of cloth that offered. As we could make a different construction every working day for a thousand years without going outside our range, or into fancy weaves, we had a pretty big assortment.
An image of Blackburn Technical College
George Hindle had died 26 February 1929, and Frank R. Haythornthwaite was made managing director. His son, George Ephraim, came into the firm in 1927, and Alfred Ian Haythornthwaite started in 1929. Every director had a spell in every department and most a course at the Technical College as well. George Ephraim had a spell in the States, and Ian in Germany at A. Gutman & Son. Two sons of the Gutman family had a spell with us; there was a family connection with our Swiss agent. Being Jews, they were in trouble with Hitler, and one son never went back. Siegmund emigrated to the States with his family (18). His brother Ernst went to Dachau and though later released he was so badly treated he died on reaching the States. The eldest son Alfred went back after the war to one factory they managed to get returned.
Herbert died in June 1939 (19), and Ephraim on 8 February 1939. George Ephraim and Ian were made directors in February 1939. Overwhelmed, they asked what large increase in stipend went with it, to be told the position was honorary, but carried the privilege of smoking in the upstairs offices.
From September 1934 we rented an office and stockroom at 2 Aldermanbury Ave, in the City of London, mainly in connection with Foster Shepherd & Co. In 1940 it got blitzed and shortly afterwards Ian, on leave from the RAF could not get within four or five blocks of it for rubble.
Carl (Charles William) Haythornthwaite, son of C. W., started at the Mill shortly before the war (1939), but joined the Territorials and was called up practically as soon as war started. He was in Norway and France, later transferring to the RAF for training as a pilot. He was killed on a training flight over Chaigley, near Longridge Fell.
Ian volunteered in spring 1940, was turned down for a pilot (20) and went up in August to be a RAF transport mechanic, invalided out in August 1941 (21).
George Ephraim joined the RAF in 1943 and was discharged late 1945.
Frank Haythornthwaite died 6 July 1947 and George Hindle (june) (22) was made managing director, retaining his post as secretary, till he died Feb 1958.
Harry Hindle joined the Veterinary Corps straight from school and after his discharge ran some stables for a few years before joining the firm in 1953. He was made director December 1955 after his father George had been taken ill, but left in December 1958.
In January 1941 Canton was sold to Canton Mills Ltd. Bankfield had been leased and was finally sold in January 1947.
In 1940 the Government decided to release labour for munitions by cutting the Cotton Trade in half, and Royal was closed under the concentration scheme. It never ran again. It was used by Ministry of Supply for storage. After the war it might possibly have been sold as a weaving mill, but as this would probably have taken away many old Royal weavers from Bastfield (23) in a time of scarcity, other trades were canvassed. At no time after the war, in the period of rationing and until the slump set in, could we have collected at one and the same time sufficient orders, supplies and labour to reopen it. To comply with the new Factory Regulations it needed re-spacing, which also meant re-flooring and re-lighting. We had older looms at the other mills, which were scrapped and replaced by Royal looms.
In the old days the most economical factory was the one with the biggest production a square yard and they were designed with as many looms as could be squeezed in, with the minimum space between, usually 9"-10" between beam flanges at the back of a loom, and 15" at the narrowest in front. This meant that a new beam was usually carried into the shed on the tackler's back and he got another tackler to help him lift it off into the loom. Shafting was carried on roof pillars and between two pillars would be four rows of looms. To respace to ideal meant moving pillars and roof. In practice one row in four was taken out and a loom or two taken off the end of each row, reducing the loomage by about 30%. New factory regulations about 1941 made this obligatory.
Bastfield Mill was respaced in 1948. It was a difficult and expensive job. Alternate pillars were often downspouts. Subsidence had a habit of cracking drains and washing out the soil, Bastfield had a seam of sand running across underneath it. Moving looms was an obvious time to put the floor right, and the minimum interference with production was to do it two or three rows at a time, starting at one end and working through the shed. The expenditure involved required a building licence (24), the completed plan had to pass the Factory Inspector and it had to be designed to move as few shafts as possible. When the looms were moved the lights would be in the wrong position. Bastfield used gas and this was replaced by electric lights as the work progressed.
An example of a weaving loom, commonly used in Lancashire
Swallow St Mill was re-lit by electricity 1944-5. There was a big difference between tariffs for lighting alone and lighting with power. This made it desirable to increase the electric power load and the bottom shed and pirnwinding (25) (Alhambra) were taken off the engine and driven electrically. Whether this by itself was economic was open to question. Certainly a big percentage of it was. Other advantages difficult to assess in cash were that a difficult drive to the bottom shed was done away with, a few shafts could now be moved to better positions at little extra cost, and a few rows of looms moved to the ideal position formerly restricted by the old shafting, and later we could run this shed independently of the engine.
Swallow St Top Shed needed respacing and a decision was taken in July '52. Again the floor needed repair. The recession had set in and it was decided to stop the shed while floor and respacing were carried out. The worst looms were scrapped above the surplus due to respacing and better looms moved down from Royal. Unfortunately twelve months later when we had the floor finished, the slump had not lessened, and there was no justification for starting up the 625 looms the respaced shed would hold and restarting the engine. It was decided to curtail further expenditure until trade got better, and we compromised by starting up a tackler's set of 88 looms with individual electric drives, which were ordered in August 1954. We had more production per loom off that shed than any other, but were fighting a losing battle, and they wove out in January 1959.
In February 1940 we brought in Associated Industrial Consultants to Bastfield Mill, who did a work-study and put us on a system whereby the bulk of the shed was eight looms to a weaver instead of the previous four. Their charges were high, but they were recovered in twelve to fifteen months and we learnt a lot. We had the blessing of the trade unions to start with, the standard list of wages covered this system, but this section was not in general use. In fact we were the first in Blackburn to apply it. We had a strike for a week, then got the worst opponent (26), an average weaver, and a youngster to give it a trial for three weeks. After a fortnight we never looked back. We were paying the highest wages in Blackburn in a time of labour shortage, without departing from the rates agreed between the unions and the masters' associations, and getting a higher output per operative, which made everyone happy.
Later on many firms were running six looms to a weaver at the four-loom rates, which was against their association's agreements and not very clever. When the next depression came a few years later they were in trouble. At the time they could poach labour, later they were compelled to adhere to the higher rate.
We had the same crowd in later to revise our pirnwinding, which was quite successful, though we could probably have done it ourselves. Again we had them in for a costing system, which was a complete failure.
We have used several pricing systems, but never an accurate costing. In the very old days, weavers' wages were direct piece-work; total weavers' wages for six months would usually be more than other costs on the trading accounts. Provided there was no great diversity of types of cloth woven, materials plus twice the weaver's wages was a good pricing system, it was tied to production and checkable in total every stocktaking. When cloth structures became diversified, too much averaging had to be done. Rayon, for instance, and an arbitrary 40% on list, a fair cost for one "weaving," but not the second "weaving". When we first started weaving rayon we bought it sized on weaver's beam, while the bulk of the cottons were in cop (27), and had to be wound, warped and sized. The difference in preparation costs was never more than guess work and usually ignored altogether.
Cutting across all the theories about cost and price, like the farmer, whatever the cost, we could only sell at the market price, plus or minus a few percent for hard bargaining and goodwill. Whatever we wanted to make, we had to make what we could sell.
An image of a young weaver at work on an automatic loom.
This is not theoretically as economic as one cloth, one factory, making to stock when trade is slack, selling forward when busy. Many people have tried specialising and gone bankrupt when a market closed or a fashion changed. Some have done it and been forced to merchant their product to reduce market fluctuation. The rare ones of these have been highly successful, and wise enough not to expand their production, but to keep their factory going full up and buy surplus requirements outside when necessary.
We have tried most methods in a cautious way. We have made loomstate to order and to stock. We have carried dyed stocks and exported direct. We even bought sewing machines in the mid-twenties and made up handkerchiefs for the big stores.
We had a big trade once in brocade head-squares for West Africa. The market goodwill was lost, largely by a concerted squeeze put on by the cocoa buyers. We took out the borders and carried on with brocades for the home trade, dressing gowns and fur-coat linings. When that faded, we made tablecloth brocade.
We have woven cotton, paper, wool, silk, glass, elastic, jute, nearly all the rayons viscose, acetate, triacetate (Tricelle), cupramonium (Bemberg), nylon, terylene. Our various series of quality numbers begin mostly farther back than our available records, but a reasonable estimate of the total is twelve to fifteen thousand.
In 1944 we ordered two new automatic looms. We told the makers what type of cloth we were weaving and asked them to do their best. If satisfactory we were prepared to buy a quantity. We could get no delivery promise; price was not firm, but "as ruling at date of delivery". When they eventually came, and were erected by their fitter, one seized up after a week's running. They were very heavy for the job and we had difficulties with them. At about £150 each they would have been economical if they had run well, but this price had rapidly advanced beyond what we thought economical and when last heard of was around £600. There were rumours in the trade of endless parts breakages. Naturally we shelved it until they could get over their teething trouble and could get their ideas on price back to normal.
£600 means over £1 a week in capital charges. The current wage for an eight-loom weaver was £1 a loom, so to break even the autos should run without any labour. Our old auto looms had cost us £80 fitted and were better looms, they ran on the cloths we were selling at about 12 looms an operative, that is an average of three weavers, helper weavers, battery fillers, pinners, who where spread over the shed. There were additional doubts.
Images of weavers at work on "modern" machinery.
We were not alone in trouble with "modern" machinery, the parrot-cry of the unenquiring politician. Another firm in Blackburn bought a more expensive make, 100 of them, and built a new shed to accommodate them. Rumour put the total cost at over £100,000, which checked. Inside three years, after spoiling £60,000 worth of expensive cloth, this firm closed down.
The whole facts will probably never be known by one man. A woman lecturer from Hong Kong said in Blackburn that wages out there were about 10/- a week in English money. It was reported in World Trade Statistics that Hong Kong was China's best customer for textiles. Working on the published total loomage in Hong Kong and the types of cloth sent to England, most English weavers believed that our imports from there were in excess of their making capacity
(28), and the surplus must be re-exports of Chinese cloth, which should have paid duty; Empire products had free entry. Our Government could not be made to do anything about it.
It was estimated that legal immigrants from China into Hong Kong were four to five million, and illegal immigrants must have vastly swelled this number. Few in Lancashire, while sympathising with these refugees and agreeing that they were worthy of help, could appreciate that this help should be given at the expense of putting Lancashire mills and people out of work.
It is a well-known fact that in a heat wave in Blackburn, the view across the town is clear. While no one disputes that industrial smoke is a nuisance, it is a small offender compared with domestic smoke. Yet there is a "Clean Air" Act in force, and increasing pressure brought to bear on industrialists to buy new stoking equipment. All of this is expensive and whether it would be "suitable and adequate" in another year or two is open to question. To satisfy the authorities in 1959 we would have to spend about £6000 between Bastfield and Swallow St.
At the Harrogate conference in October 1958 the Prime Minister told a small committee that any scheme the industry thought up, barring tariffs, would have his support. A sub-committee was appointed, working in secrecy with the Board of Trade, on a plan to delete surplus productive capacity. On 14 May 1959
(29) a White Paper was issued giving the general outlines of calculated surplus and a scheme of compensation, but giving no details, such as rate of compensation, on which the trade could form an opinion. This was rushed through Parliament with indecent haste and without division, the second reading on the 4th June
(30). On the 14 July the trade for the first time was given figures.
There were 260,000 looms in the industry. A minimum of 45,000 were to be offered for scrapping before the scheme could proceed. The target figure of 70,000 was that of looms known to be stopped.
An image of mill machinery in the process of being dismantled and scrapped.
Compensation at varying rates was to be paid to those firms who scrapped looms, and the cost borne, one third by a levy on the looms left running, two-thirds from the taxpayer. A compensation scheme for displaced persons was to be drawn up between the Masters and Trade Unions, the cost of which was to be borne wholly by the remaining looms.
Similar schemes were drawn up for spinning and doubling and finishing, though the finishers intimated that they had little or no redundant machinery.
Afterwards, any firm buying approved new machinery would have a 25% government subsidy.
The total estimated maximum cost to the taxpayer was set at £30 million, spread over five years. This munificent figure got a lot of publicity, though it was "pie in the sky".
The loom compensation rate was unexpectedly high, our average was £71/10/- a loom, and by the end of August qualifying for an extra 5% to speed up the scheme, 95,000 looms had been offered. The final figure was 105,000 or 40% of the original 260,000. This rather shook the authorities and the first fiddle was to levy the running looms of those closing down.
On our average loom price, this would cost the taxpayer about £5 million, say £10 million to include the other trades. As our firm alone since the war had paid £2 million in taxes, any similar scheme that would put the trade in general back into the profit-earning taxpaying class, was not charity but sound economics from the taxgatherers' view.
The remaining £20 million was presumably 25% of the £80 million the trade might spend on new machinery in the next five years. It had already spent £200 million since the war.
The directors were prepared to run Bastfield and scrap Royal and Swallow St
(31), but after comment by one or two shareholders they took steps to find the opinion of all the outside shareholders, who were unanimously in favour of a complete closure. Running Bastfield full, the only economical way, would have meant an increase in our sales, commensurate with the trade figures of running looms scrapped. As the figures were published we did indeed get a spate of enquiry and a rise in price. Whether this volume would continue or was panic buying was open to question. It is not a director's job to prophesy to his shareholders, and on past history and estimated break-up value, it seemed probable that a shareholder could increase his income. It was certain that he could spread his risk and also be in a better cash position to pay death-duties, which is a very big problem with a small family business private company shareholder
(32), after tax, a lifetime's savings will not make the holder wealthy and death duties are likely to cripple his heirs and draw off the whole of his independent estate.
In view of the element of doubt or lack of faith in the future, the declared government policy of no protection, and the various compulsory increases in capital expenditure, the directors did not feel justified in using their powers to run counter to the shareholders' feelings. The decision to close down was taken.
An image of Swallow Street Mill in the process of demolition in the 1960s.
On 15 January 1960 we were down to the last cuts of about six beams, which were cut out. The last making contract
(33) was completed the following week. In spite of this fantastic upset, credit should be given to the directors and Billy Eccles, the manager, that the bulk of our contracts were on time. Our largest, due complete 31 December had only 4% left to be delivered in January.
Yarn and cloth prices at this time had maintained and increased the earlier advances and many of our former customers were complaining to us of nine to fifteen months' delivery quotes and begging us to find them an alternative supply. In July a weaver in our cloth range told us he had a twelve-month order book and could sell further ahead if he dared.
This situation did not, in fact, last. Cloth imports rose from 36 million square yards in 1953 to 524 million in 1961. In June 1962 there was a mass protest rally at Blackburn from a dozen Lancashire cotton towns and an opposition motion debated in Parliament. John Duckworth, Blackburn, lost £78,000 1961 and £11,000 in 1962. John Thompson & Co closed Malvern Mill. September 1963 Barlow & Jones' Chairman, "no further large expenditure. Money invested in the production of textiles will not show a worthwhile return."
In post-war trading, half years ending March 1947 to March 1960, we paid out 156% gross, £152,944 net dividend, put £271,792 to the P/L account, after Income and Profits taxes of £438,387. Other taxes would bring this figure well over the half million. Our average looms running during this period would be under 1000, which means that taxes paid were approximately £1 a loom a week, which is what we were paying an eight-loom weaver towards the end of the period.
Tax earmarked to the Cotton Control was £3,992 up to March 1948 and was followed on by the Cotton Board Levy, which was nominally a trade body, not government. It took over where the Cotton Control left off had statutory powers to levy the trade and the Head of the Control kindly consented to run the Board. About eight or nine years later his retiring pension was fixed and twelve months after that he retired, saying he was having a few months holiday and would then again be available for industry. Without digging into the books, I cannot say what we paid the Cotton Board, but their last account year before we closed showed receipts from members around £480,000 for the one-year. A lot of the trade had been quite happy before they came into being. Local organisations were federated into a central body and had run the job successfully before the Cotton Board existed, at very low cost. As well as negotiating with the trade unions, there had been quite adequate centralised research, close association with local technical education, employers' liability insurance, using small local staffs guided by elected, unpaid, very cost conscious member committees, running efficiently but without extravagance.
As a matter of interest, in the same period, 1947-1960, our trading account shows cloth sales £5,895,898, yarn purchased £3,677,727. The cloth is sales from Blackburn adjusted for stock, and includes sales to branches but not sales from branches.
Image of looms being scrapped in bulk.
Basic costs were yarn, wages, power heat light, rent. Raw cotton prices were virtually fixed by the United States government, other countries following. Spinning and weaving wages were fixed on a national basis by the government. Coal, gas, electricity were nationalised. We owned the buildings and depreciated them at the statutory rate, rates were fixed by local government and were continually rising, the old reduced rate for industry had been withdrawn. This left little room for manoeuvre. Taxes took around 60% of the profits, leaving 40% for dividend and reserves. National Insurance for the welfare state was an additional tax of about £1 a head a week when we finished. Before medical services were nationalised, like most other Blackburn employers, we collected a penny a week a head for Blackburn Infirmary, which had over £1 million in the kitty when the axe fell. I cannot remember hearing of anyone going short of medical attention before then.
The ending was cruel. To buy in looms and factories would have been bad enough. To ask a man to break the tools of his trade was like the testing of Abraham. We had had our looms a lot longer than Abraham had had Isaac, and there was no ram caught by his horns.
The civil servants drafted into the Cotton Board to handle the scheme were trying to avoid making decisions, passing the buck to the inspectors who were local estate agents, and neither would say what was required by the word "scrap".
To make a start Robert, Billy Eccles and I took a hammer up to deserted Royal Mill and stood round the first loom
(34). The other two looked unhappy. I thought this was the dirtiest job we had ever been given, a director should do it, and I picked up the hammer.... I did not get much sleep that night.
We had little experience of bulk scrapping. We always had a small sorted scrap metal pile, cleared periodically at about £7 a ton. The looms we had scrapped slowly down the years would go on this pile, with usable spare parts preserved in a cellar.
We started cautiously by putting Royal weaving shed out for offers from several brokers we knew. There was a wide discrepancy in the bids received, so we took the highest.
We contacted other metal brokers outside the cotton trade some of whom were unfamiliar with cotton machinery and were talking in prices per ton, £8 to £8/10/-, and I started estimating weights. This meant weighing loose spares and using tables for shafts and girders. One loom, two dobbies
(35) and a jacquard actually went on the scales, in bits where necessary. With a weaving shed totted up and a basic figure of £8 a ton to work on, we did a lot better. Shafting went for re-rolling at £12 a ton and girders could be used again at £22. Steam engines need a lot of breaking and handling and £5 a ton was the best price offered. We had £200 offered for Swallow St engine and turned it down. Half a day's measuring and calculating gave me a figure of 140 tons, of which 62½ tons was in the 24 foot diameter flywheel, and we sold it for £800. The cinder path to it had to be strengthened to carry wagons and we buried old wooded sleys in it, with ashes on top.
For preparation machinery at Royal, one of our local two-generations-old pals offered £110, which we sold out of town for £271, which made us think the scrap metal trade even lower than cotton.
Image of Corporation Park, possibly one of the Blackburn and Darwen parks who bought heald staves for use as plant sticks.
Many weavers called to see what we had got, and we sold what and where we could. Blackburn and Darwen Corporation Parks bought heald
(36) staves for plant sticks. In all we sold 7500 of these for around £40. Care had to be exercised in pricing the cost of dismantling. This could easily exceed the difference in price between scrap "as it lies" and the price "to run" dismantled and loaded. Most of the stuff was sold "as it lies", the buyer having to fetch it. One lot of about 600 bare beam barrels was sold at 6d each. We timed the buyer when he collected, and merely bringing them downstairs and putting them on a wagon worked out at 1½d in wages.
Prior to the auction we had sold just over £25,000, with the book value of all plant and machinery at September 1959 standing at £6,028, engines boilers and gearing £1,726. Most of the gearing was sold, but only one engine and one boiler. Some 90 automatic looms were sold to run, at the Cotton Board's request, and the compensation for these subtracted from the selling price before arriving at the above total. Shortly after Royal and Bastfield engines fetched £300 and £610.
Cloth in process was mostly to order, with the exception of our merchanting houses in New York and Bradford. Sundry stocks were small and cleared fairly well, including a small mountain of fents (37) out of the sample cupboard. A couple of merchants evidently thought they would make hay while they could and put in claims against making orders, which we settled reasonably. Bradford Office was cleared at about the stocktaking value at September. We gave the goodwill, such as it was.
By January 1960 we had twelve accounts to come in, by May one, for £12.
Buildings were rather a glut on the market. By the end of April we had recorded twenty-two potential buyers, besides some "nobbut looking". A factory had to fit the job to be of value. We only had one offer, which we accepted, but the buyer welched before signing. We had to make our own minds up about values, through market research. Professional advice was so inconsistent as to be valueless. It took 2½ hours to conduct a buyer round.
Bastfield Mill was subject to ground rent, with certain conditions of maintenance. The directors thought fit to buy this in, mainly to avoid these conditions, and did so very economically at 10 years' purchase.
Image of Brookhouse Mill, which, like Royal Mill and Bastfield Mill was gutted by fire.
Royal Mill had a fire in April, which wrecked the tape-room roof. Two hours before the fire-brigade had it out; some wreckers had been burning through shafting over the only wooden half floor in the place, so the cause (75%) was evident, even if it could not be proved. There was a large gap between the assessor's figure and the builder's, and the settlement took some sorting out. When we sold the mill to our neighbours as it stood, we stopped arguing.
There was a fire in Bastfield engine house from a similar cause, fortunately at lunchtime, and the sprinklers had it out by the time the brigade arrived. At Swallow St the brigade came to carry a wrecker down from a crane over the engine, with a broken leg. A piece of metal had been catapulted from this accident into a pub yard a quarter of a mile away. The publican phoned the police complaining of an air raid.
The sale of remnants was on 5 July 1960 and brought in a further £2,200. There were two rings operating and a few independents. Some prices were ridiculous, some better than expected, but it thoroughly justified our decision to sell the bulk piecemeal.
On August 8th 1960 the company went into voluntary liquidation, the directors retired and handed over authority to David Norris (38), the firm's auditor, as liquidator. The whole assets with the exception of the buildings had been converted to cash, government bonds and short term loans, and Royal Mill was practically sold (39). On 16 August 34/- a share was paid out. The liquidator gave three months' notice to the directors. As I could see little left to do, I refused this and asked to be released at the week-end.
Like other employees, the directors were entitled to compensation from the central trade fund, mine was about £400 based on age. Having been, as we thought unjustly, levied for the first contribution to this fund, we felt justified in claiming it. One condition was that we were "available for employment", the only acceptable practicable proof of which was to sign on at the Labour Exchange for three months. A side benefit was that after six months unemployment, "post-war credits" could be cashed. Income tax had been put up to 10/- at the beginning of the war, with the promised sop that about 1/- would be credited and repaid "after the emergency". What this promise was worth can be valued by the fact that fifteen years after the end of hostilities the emergency was apparently still on.
The word was passed around and a glut of elderly directors unlikely to get further employment were "signing on" for the qualifying period. For a limited time they were entitled to draw the dole and have their N.H.Insurance cards stamped.
Image of Swallow Street during the process of demolition.
In my case a very humorous situation developed. After about ten days the Labour Exchange informed me I had left my employment without just cause (before my three months' notice) and would not therefore be entitled to unemployment pay (which I had not claimed) nor to have my cards stamped. Feeling awkward as usual, I appealed and was taken to the local industrial court, for the sake of about 30/- in stamps. In due course a representative of the Ministry and I sat on one side of a table, on the other the court, consisting of an employer, a trade union man, and an independent chairman. With the exception of the Ministry, we all had one of my cigarettes and stated our case. The trade union remarked it was the first time he had had a complaint of an employer sacking himself and they disqualified me for three weeks.
Bastfield Mill (40) was sold to Bancrofts, who owned the mill next door, long converted to bobbin-making. On 12 March 1963 the fifth instalment raised the total to 39/3 a share, but by the year end August 1965 part of Swallow St (41) was still held, without much prospect, and a new government credit squeeze was on. There was still about £11,000 banked with the Board of Trade, but this was chicken feed, about 11d a share, and the empty buildings just a nuisance.
Right or wrong, the job was done. In 1965 imported yardage was still well above home production and giving rise to bitter complaints which brought no government action.
In all my working life I never knew a government that was on our side. Our competitors were subsidised from our taxes. After 1946 our total taxes ran a very close second to our total wages. Free imports from India, Pakistan and Hong Kong in 1962/3 were running in excess of 500 million yds annually, about £40 million at an average price of 20d/yd. In only one of these years our government made a free gift of £50 million to India with no strings attached. In the same breath they were preaching "efficiency" to Lancashire. In 1965 India was still having famine. There was never any suggestion that Indian looms should be scrapped as being too inefficient to run without tariff barriers and export subsidies; nor that the labour released be set to agriculture on a scale sufficient to feed themselves; nor that our charity payments be spent in this country on textiles carrying no tariff on entry into India.
(1) The lightweight cotton fabric, also called dhoti, that is used for the manufacture of the long loincloth traditionally worn in southern Asia by Hindu men. The garment is usually white, often bordered in brightly coloured stripes
The lightweight cotton fabric, also called dhoti, that is used for the manufacture of the long loincloth traditionally worn in southern Asia by Hindu men. The garment is usually white, often bordered in brightly coloured stripes
(2) It was immediately next door to Clayton Manor, on the Ribchester side. A field, owned by Clayton Grange, separated the houses. As Clayton Manor’s Stable Wing external wall ran right along the boundary, the owners of Clayton Manor had to pay ‘Ancient Lights’ to Clayton Grange.
(3) Also known as alizarin, a red dye originally obtained from the root of the common madder plant, Rubia tinctorum, in which it occurs combined with the sugars xylose and glucose. The cultivation of madder and the use of its ground root for dyeing by the complicated Turkey red process were known in ancient India, Persia and Egypt. Laboratory methods of preparing alizarin from anthraquinone were discovered in 1868. Upon commercial introduction of the synthetic dye in 1871, the natural product disappeared from the market for textile dyes. Hence, presumably, why Ephraim gave it up!
(4) For those unfamiliar with pre-decimal coinage 6 shillings! On 15 February 1971 the UK changed from a £1 made up of 20 shillings (1 shilling was 12 pence (d)) to a £1 made up of 100 new pence (p).
(5) A variety of muslin, a plain-woven cotton fabric made in various weights. The better qualities of muslin are fine and smooth in texture and are woven from evenly spun warps and wefts, or fillings. They are given a soft finish, bleached or piece-dyed, and are sometimes patterned in the loom or printed. The coarser varieties are often of irregular yarns and textures, bleached, unbleached, or piece-dyed and are generally finished by the application of sizing. Grades of muslin are known by such names as book, mull, swiss, and sheeting.
(6) The industrial town corporations realised that they had to provide effective supplies of fresh water and good sanitation systems if disease was to be kept under control in the rapidly increasing urban populations. Hence, particularly in the North West, the towns enclosed as much upland moor as they could to make collection grounds for surface water to be then stored in reservoirs.
(7) Cloth is defined, amongst other parameters, by the weight and density of the yarn in the cloth. The term 60s means 60 threads to the inch.
(8) I have seen this done!
(9) The same Robert who started to break up Royal's machinery in 1959 with Ian. (See later, page 18)
(10) Aged 40 & 41, but Olga was 10 years younger
(11) John went into partnership with Walter, founding the family firm of accountants, Haythornthwaite & Norris. I do not know if this was a successor to Manley, Haythornthwaite & Co. or a breakaway company.
(12) The effective original owner of Clayton Manor. Tradition has it that CM was originally built by a 'mad millionaire' who went around the country building houses which he never lived in. Hitchon bought the shell and converted it from the rectangular house existing then to the L-shape we know today. He added the Tower Block on the Wilpshire end and the coach house/stable block, pigeon-cote and gate lodge to the Ribchester side.
(13) Manufacturers of textile machinery. Eventually taken over by Mather & Platt who were absorbed by a multi-national in their turn. The H&B site has since been flattened.
(14) Of Manley, Haythornthwaite & Co.
(15) The Wall St. crash also nearly put paid to Frank Haythornthwaite, who had been investing heavily in buying shares on margin, the 1930's equivalent of 1990's futures market. His brothers bailed him out.
(16) A loom mechanic, responsible for the correct mechanical operation of the looms under his care. The weavers were only responsible for the actual process.
(17) A system of interchangeable punched cards that control the weaving of the cloth so that any desired pattern can be obtained automatically.
(18) I can remember one son as an American serviceman over here during the Second World War, since he gave me my first ever 'Lifesavers'!
(19) However he had been effectively out of the mill since mid 1937, when he suffered a serious stroke.
(20) Despite already holding a civilian 'A' flying licence. The RAF in their wisdom decided 29 years of age was too old to fly a Spitfire! so Ian asked them what were they short of ?
(21) The RAF diagnosed sugar diabetes in an overseas pre-draft medical.
(22) George Hindle was also a Justice of the Peace and Mayor of Blackburn around this time. He was also Chairman of Blackburn Rovers Football Club.
(23) They were less than half a mile apart. Swallow Street was much further away, probably about a mile and a half.
(24) Building for both domestic and commercial purposes was still controlled under wartime regulations.
(25) Pirns are large barrel-shaped packages used to hold the weft, or filling, yarn supply for the shuttle in weaving. It is an automatic method of providing weft supply, replacing the bobbin in a traditional shuttle. I assume Alhambra to be a trade name.
(27) The weaving union convenor for Bastfield! As Ian told the story in later years, it was the convenor who refused to go back to the old system.
(28) A cylindrical or conical mass of thread or yarn, wound on a quill or tube.
(29) Ian would quote that it would be necessary for a Hong Kong weaver to work a 30-hr. day if all the cloth was legitimate Hong Kong manufacture.
(30) When Macmillan the Prime Minister at the time, came to open the first stretch of motorway the Preston By-pass, later part of the M6 - Ian was invited to the celebratory dinner afterwards. He couldn't understand why he and so many other textile directors were there, until in his speech MacMillan devoted most of his attention to telling the cotton trade how it was going to be re-organised, rather than the glories of this new road system.
(31) The local Conservative MPs who had been briefed by their constituents were threatened with withdrawal of the whip if they forced a division. Fletcher Cooke, our local MP, made a speech opposing the reform which was almost verbatim what Ian had written for him. Two days later, Barbara Castle (the Labour MP for Blackburn) was holding a meeting outside Bastfield gate telling the work force how the Tory party had sold them down the river. The weaver's spokesmen came in to see Ian and were naturally somewhat distressed. Ian pulled out a copy of Hansard, which he had just received from Cooke as a thank you and demonstrated to them that Castle had been advancing the opposite argument in Parliament. At the next general election, she had her lowest majority ever, despite a national swing in the opposite direction. Ian had refused a request to stand as Conservative Candidate against her.
(32) Ian used to say, that by using the compensation money from Royal and Swallow St to fund the concentration of all automatics in Bastfield, the firm could pay a steady 20% dividend on the existing level of trade at the time.
(33) The shareholders could not sell their shares without the approval of the directors for both price and purchaser.
(34) I believe that this was an order for Marks & Spencer. Ian had spent 10 years trying to get it and the quality requirements were horrendous in comparison with the rest of the trade at that time. No other customer would demand to inspect the weaving sheds on a Sunday morning at 36 hours notice. It was, therefore, ironic & sad that this was his last order.
(35) The looms were in fact in good working order. Just in case there was an argument about compensation, since they had not been run since 1929, Ian and the senior tackler from Bastfield degreased one and got it running in less than 10 minutes. Not bad after 30 years standing idle in an unheated shed.
(36) An automatic method of producing allover figured fabrics. They are made on looms having a dobby attachment, with narrow strips of wood instead of jacquard cards. Dobby weaves are limited to simple, small geometric figures, with the design repeated frequently, and are fairly inexpensive to produce.
(37) A heald is a short length of wire or flat steel strip. It is used to deflect the warp to either side of the main sheet of fabric. They were supported by hanging from a wooden lath (heald stave), about 36" long and 1'/2" x'/4" cross-section. The heald (sometimes called heddle) is considered to be the most important single advance in the evolution of looms in general.
(38) Trade jargon for any leftover lengths of usable or saleable cotton in small quantities. A fent-dealer was considered a term of derision for small time operators! I used to raid the fent cupboard for material for my shirts and have them made-to-measure locally in Blackburn. It was cheaper than buying new ones!
(39) John's eldest son. He was the only remaining partner in H & N at this time. By the early 1980's he was approaching retirement and sold the business to a firm of accountants in Darwen.
(40) Royal was bought by Lion Brewery, which was directly opposite. They wanted the weaving sheds for warehousing.
(41) Bastfield is now practically demolished. Bancrofts leased (or sold ?) the weaving sheds to a tufted carpet machine company which did not last very long. By 1980, only the offices and the warehouse were standing, the latter being a discount wallpaper shop!
(42) Swallow St. got absorbed eventually in the redevelopment (civic vandalisation?) of Blackburn centre. In 1975 I tried to find it to show it to my children after Ian and Marjorie had died. I came to the conclusion it was buried under a new housing estate!
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