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A History of Pudsey by Simeon Rayner




The inhabitants of Pudsey and neighbourhood have long been engaged in the manufacture of woollen cloth. During the last century the art of manufacture was in a rude state; the various processes of scribbling, carding, etc., were all done by hand in a very tedious manner, and the warp and weft were spun, one thread at a time, on what we now term a bobbin-wheel, and the weaving of the cloth required two persons to each loom. Mr. J.L.Gaunt informs me that he had heard his grandfather, Jos. Gaunt, say that the practice of weaving two on one loom was just going out of date when he commenced working, which would be about 1778, as he was then 13 years of age. He said he remembered having seen them weaving two on a loom in the old house at the top of Chapeltown, pulled down in 1883, occupied by George Moss, behind the Commercial Hotel. He said he used to go with cloth to be milled to Shipley, and would generally start off on Friday afternoon and would be returning home with the cloth on Sunday morning, when people were going to worship at the old Bell Chapel, or the Nonconformist Meeting house, top of Chapeltown. He used to card wool by hand, and the first scribblers that he remembered were at Esholt. *

The cloth when made was conveyed to Leeds by pack-horses, though, I believe, sometimes by the men themselves. There it was exposed for sale, formerly upon Leeds Bridge, where the manufacturers held their market until 1684, when it was removed into Briggate, where it continued to be held until 1711. The Coloured Cloth Hall was erected in 1758. In process of time "spinning jennies" were introduced, which were of a somewhat rude construction. An anecdote is told of one old man named Will Sugden, who went to see a neighbour, who had just got a new "jenny" with fifty spindles. On seeing the machine, the old fellow exclaimed "eh lad! Hah-ivver dus' ta see 'em all? I've nobbut twenty-four threeds an' I let five on 'em lake."
The introduction of scribblers, carders, and billies gradually took place during the latter half of the last century, and the introduction of these new machines was looked upon with anything but a favourable sprit; indeed, on some occasions sheetings of cardings and slubbings were met on the road and torn to pieces. These machines were worked by horse power in Pudsey. The horse turned a "gin" similar to those used at our stone quarries for raising stone. There were seven of those little mills turned by horse power in Pudsey, at the close of the last century, viz.:--Ingham's, at Hill Foot; Bickerdike's, at Greenside; Craven's, at Bankhouse; Lumby's at Littlemoor; Edward Farrar's in Church Lane; Matthew Dufton's top of Lowtown; and Matthew Whitfield's at Delph Hill. The cloth to be fulled or milled was taken to Cockersdale, Shipley, Esholt, Harewood, or Arthington. At each of these places were "fulling-stocks" turned by water power. Very amusing stories are told in illustration of the inexperience and mismanagement of the workmen engaged in this department. ** On one occasion a clothier's man was sent with a piece of cloth to "mill" and after putting the cloth into the machine, both miller and man adjourned for refreshment. Returning after a time to look at the cloth, they found it so strangely felted together in one mass that it could not be opened out, and it was eventually buried in the dung heap.
The processes of dyeing and drying were also carried on in a similarly rude way, and the "lead-broth" as it was called, that is, the dye-water was suffered to run along the highways, as there were no sewers at that period, consequently the roads were in a very filthy state in this and the other manufacturing villages.
In 1824 a severe panic existed in the woollen trade, and there was scarcely a cloth-loom to be heard in the village. To keep them from starving many of the people were employed in weaving cotton by hand-loom, obtaining their work from a Mr. Nutter, or Nuttall, of Bradford, whither they took their pieces on Thursdays. Mr. Joseph Tordoff, of Low Moor, also put out cotton weaving at Pudsey. The first woollen mill in Pudsey turned by steam-power was commenced towards the close of the last century at the bottom of Roker Lane, by Mr. Ellwand.
* For an exhaustive account of the primitive methods of cloth manufacture, see Lawson's Progress in Pudsey,
pp. 20-28, and 83-93.

** See Smith's Morley; Ancient and Modern, p. 297. Wilson's History of Bramley, pp. 44-44

The mill is known as Union Bridge Mill. It was the property of the late Mr. J. Crowther, but is now the property of Mr. Galloway. The next and most important was Gibraltar Mill, erected in 1801-2, by Messrs. Joseph Thackrah and Fairfax Carlisle. This mill was burnt down on June 14, 1812, and there being no other mill in the neighborhood, the loss was considerable, both to owners and workpeople, as well as to the clothmakers. The mill was rebuilt by Mr. Thackrah on the best principles, and completed with all the newest improvements. Gas was introduced into this mill very early, being the fist lit in the neighbourhood. Mr. Thackrah having built a large factory on the higher ground adjoining became a great contractor for army goods, and for many years employed a large number of work-people; the goods made by him being completed in all the various branches upon the premises, and exported to all parts of the world. Mr. Thackrah died in 1828. The premises were then let to Messrs. Hall and Walton, and in 1836 were purchased by Messrs. William Walton and Co. They are now occupied by Mr. D. Womersley and others. The mill has been twice enlarged.
Varley's old mill, at Stanningley, was erected in 1816, and the new one in 1837, the firm being composed until recently of Messrs. William and Samuel Varley. This firm have frequently 1,000 workpeople in their employ. The Smalewell Mill was commenced about 1821, and rebuilt in 1844-5. It became the property of Messrs. William and Jonathan Clarkson in 1854, and has recently been purchased by Mr. Reuben Gaunt, the present owner. Albion mill was erected in 1822, and has since been enlarged. The name of the firm is The Pudsey Albion Mill Co., Ltd., Waterloo Mill; erected in 1825, received an addition in 1852; and since then a new mill has been added, the first stone of which was laid in July, 1857, by Mr. Jonas Bateman and Mr. William Carr, two of the senior partners of the firm. The company trade under the name of James Blackburn and Co. The following names of mills, with the dates of their erection, complete the list: -- Union Mill (Mr. Matthew Walker), erected in 1825, and enlarged in 1835. Allanbrig Mill (Messrs. Salter and Salter), erected 1830; enlarged since. Crawshaw Mill, erected 1831; enlarged 1857; now wholly worsted. Priestley Mill (William Elsworth and Co.), erected 1834, and since enlarged (now the property of The Priestley Mill Co.) Fartown Mill (Claughton Garth Mill Co.), erected 1837; enlarged 1860, burnt down in 1879, and afterwards purchased and rebuilt by Mr. James Banks, the present owner and occupier. Cliff Mill (Farrer, Sharp, and Co.), erected 1837; since enlarged. Bankhouse Mill and Messrs. Varley's Mill, at Stanningley, all the above are woolen mills, built by companies on the joint-stock principle. Messrs. B. Crosland and Son, of Valley Bottom, and Messrs. W. and T. Huggan, of Swinnow Grange, are Pudsey firms, but their works are not within the township.
It is only within the last 20 years that the worsted business has become fairly established at Pudsey. In 1867, Messrs. Cooper Brothers erected Valley Mill, and since that time their works have been doubled in extent. Brick Mill (woolen), Mr. Robert Spencer's, was erected in 1868; Brunswick Shed (worsted), Messrs. James Smith and Co.'s, erected in 1869; Prospect Mill (woolen), occupied by Mr. W.C. Forrest, erected in 1870, and since enlarged; Grange-field Mill, Mr. Isaac Gaunt's (worsted), erected in 1871; and a new portion has just been added for the woollen trade. New Shed, Pudsey Worsted Mill Co., Limited, erected in 1872, has now been doubled in size to hold 840 looms. It is at present occupied by Messrs. Midgley and Mills, Messrs. James Smith and Co., Messrs. Turton and Mitchell, and Mr. Thomas Jowett. Messrs. S.A. Jones and Co., woolcombers, worsted spinners and manufacturers, commenced extensive works named South Park Mills in 1874, enlargements of which are still in progress. To the above list must also be added New Lane Mills, Tyersal, erected in 1873, by Messrs. W. and J. Whitehead, worsted spinners and manufacturers; Wellington Works, erected by Messrs. Pickard and Son, and occupied by Mr. Joseph Jowett, manufacturer; and Mr. P. Harrop's wool-combing shed.
We are not able to state the exact number of persons now employed in the woollen trade in Pudsey; but, including the whole township, the number employed in that of worsted is close upon 4,000. Since the introduction of the worsted trade, the woollen business has been left behind in the race by its more vigorous rival, all the manufactories, with one or two exceptions, erected during the last twenty years having been built for the worsted trade.
The old clothiers, who were generally small farmers as well, have become well-nigh extinct, but they are held in grateful remembrance by those who remember their many good qualities. Industrious and frugal in their habits, they were generally counted men of integrity and honour, and in their dual capacity of tradesmen and farmers possessed advantages which might well be envied by the present generation.
There are still many small clothiers in and around Pudsey, and a few "wool extractors" dealers in "fudd," flocks, and mungo-substances which are immediately connected with the trade. There are also several engineers' and machinists' works.
A goodly number of persons find employment in the leather trade; the principal firms engaged in this business being Messrs. William Haste, Hough End; Thomas Goodall, Alma Tannery, Bramley; and Edward Tetley, Fartown. The boot and shoe trades have also assumed dimensions of no small importance, and the works of Messrs. Scales and Sons, and Messrs. Salter and Salter employ many hundreds of persons.
Pudsey is also largely engaged in the stone trade. The Upper Moor quarries have been worked, it is said, for hundreds of years. The buildings of the Moravian Establishment, at Fulneck, were erected with stone from these quarries. Formerly they were worked by one Stockdale, and afterwards by Thomas Farrer and his trustees, who exported the hard "nell" stone to foreign countries. About a quarter of a century ago, Messrs. W. Pickard and Son entered upon and still work them. The other stone quarrying firms of Pudsey are Messrs. William Merritt and Son, John Procter and Son, George Lumby, J. Illingworth, and Lord and W.H. Vickers. In Back Lane, many disused quarries have been filled up and houses erected upon them.