The point of this piece was to expand on handloom (2) on what world my ancestors were living in. I only go back to the early 1800s but this was George III, Regency, George IV and Victoria (1837 onward). Living in villages up in the hills and then in districts of an expanding town, they worked in the mills and industries that supported textiles, be it card clothing, dyeing or the railways and domestic coal delivery. Did they know what was going on? Did they care? Handloom (2) does at least compare what the elite might have been doing compared with their very poor neighbours. I realised however that there was still more to say about the local people in their neighbourhoods.
Just a brief reminder that events are not nicely in a straight line. Similarly, accounts of various authors can seem to contradict one other. Suffice to say we are talking about the nineteenth century as if it was in two halves, early and late. For people like my ancestors, early was little more than a step from agricultural poverty. Late was real growth in income and living conditions. Roughly after 1830, more people lived in towns than the country and the factory machines were on the rise, taking over from the domestic textile industry. Water power and then steam. Overlapping these two eras were the Handloom Weavers.
The family information taken from primary sources – death, birth and marriage certificates. The background comes from textbooks and my imagination. For example, I prefer to think of my handloom ancestors working up in the hills with some land for crops and maybe an animal.
So my great great great grandfather, Eli, was a handloom weaver in Lindley. Born in the early nineteenth century. From his son’s birth certificate we know he was working the loom in the 1850s. In 1882 he and his family were living at Yew Tree Rd. Eli was said to be a clothier, but this could mean a number of things. As a romantic family historian, I want Eli to have been a weaver in a workshop or at home.
What sort of cloth did he make? This from David T. Jenkins, ‘Huddersfield: A Most Handsome Town’. By 1851, the year of The Great Exhibition, Huddersfield’s workforce totalled over 30,000. Roughly 3000 men and a little less women were in textiles. The type and quality of cloth was wider than any other area in Britain. Mostly for the home market, with some international trade as well. Intricate fancy woollen cloth required the handloom, especially when production runs were short, and handloom weaving was thus an essential part of the local scene until the 1890s. Fancy waistcoats gradually went out of fashion but there were still plenty of novel and ingenious products like cushions and tablecloths.
From Jennifer Stead, ‘Handsome Town’. As late as 1856 around half of woollen industry was home based. Lindley presumably is a good example of an early village. Self-contained, unplanned and industrial. Insanitary, squalid, feudal in deference to the local factory master (not domestic handloom weavers). Devoid of comfort. Two rooms. With spinning, weaving and winding there was little room for much else. Chairs, table, bakestone, stone sink. Beds on top of looms and perched on stairs. Such conditions persisted in the town, the poorest families sandwiched in courts and yards. By 1850 the outlying villages were changing to single class suburbs. For example, Edgerton for the elite. Hillhouse for the lower middle class – clerks, tradesmen, manufacturers. Lindley presumably similar. 1880s gas lighting, running water and drainage. Carpets, rugs, sideboard. Earth and water closets. One of the downsides was the loss of the queue and gossip at the local well.
From Richard Dennis, ‘Handsome Town’ – Lindley village joined up with Huddersfield around 1867. Newly constructed villas were home to merchants and traders. Solid middle class which I think applies to buildings below the clock and toward Edgerton. My imagination is still up in the hilly section above the clock and toward Salendine Nook. I also have to remember this dream is probably the early part of the nineteenth century and the middle class applies to the second half.
Information from Wiki, ‘Huddersfield Exposed’ and ‘Discovering Old Huddersfield’ (Gordon and Enid Minter). 1841 know as Lindley-cum-Quarmby. 2881 inhabitants in 1848. Home to four textile establishments, two of which are of interest. Acre Mills, makers of card clothing where great grandad William (son of Eli) worked as a stoker in 1880 and later as a joiner’s labourer. He was born in 1854 and died in 1927. Part of the new mechanical steam order. He is variously described as a steam engineer, engine tenter and stoker. I suspect he shovelled coal into the fire under the boiler. He later worked as a joiner’s labourer in a card clothing works, so the other titles in the mill would have been above his pay grade, especially the tenter who was king of the machines and kept the factory going by keeping the machines in tune. Card clothing separates entangled raw wool in preparation for spinning. William had three sisters who remain unknown. Between 1883 and 1922 he lived at Weatherhill Rd.
1897 Sykes Mill became part of the English Card Clothing Co Ltd. In the twentieth century, cousin Gordon, son of George Major, worked here when it was known as the ‘wire works’. Lindley benefited hugely from the Sykes family philanthropy and many buildings where they lived and worked are still around today. The mill was sold to the NHS and is now the site of out-patients.
The other company of interest is Wellington Mills. Grandad Frank Walker was a cloth finisher here.
William married Harriet Bailey in 1882. Her father was Eneas, a smallholder of Cowrakes, Lindley. He grew crops, kept animals and worked a loom. Harriet was one of 13 children. William had 2 sons, Frank, and Arthur who died of meningitis aged 9. Frank was born in 1883 and died in 1943. He began as a cloth finisher at Pat Martins, Lindley, and lived on Weatherhill Rd, Clara St. Hillhouse and then back to Lindley, West St. By 1940 he was managing a grocers on Leeds Rd. Cloth finishing covers a number of processes which enhance performance and appearance of cloth, such as dyeing. Frank is likely to have been a supervisor.
Pat Martin, a Belfast designer, made fancy woollens on Spring St. in. 1859. 1868 the company moved to Wellington Mills, specialising in plain and fancy worsted. His sons carried on when Pat died in 1880. Largest employer in the town. Had it’s own contract coal delivery from Alder St. on the main tramway. Dad remembered these coal trucks.
The Addys of Hillhouse
The Walker line runs back from my dad. His father, Frank, was one of two grandfathers I never knew. On my mother’s side, the Addy line goes back to George who was born in 1845. From Kirkheaton and maybe a farming background, he became a railway porter possibly working on the Kirkburton line from Huddersfield. By the 1880s he and his family were on Willow Lane East, maybe working in Huddersfield.
George’s son was Edward, a Fartown fanatic, born 1875. The other unknown grandad. He delivered coal with a horse and cart, out of Hillhouse sidings. Edward married Mary Ann Malone who’s parents came from the west coast of Ireland. Mary’s dad was Patrick who eventually did a runner. Before that he laboured at a chemical works. That term in Huddersfield means dye works, so does that mean LB Holidays?
Stuff to expand on for the future – no need to read any further – these notes are for my benefit.
The landowners for Lindley and Hillhouse were members of the Thornhill family. Clara, Honoria and Eleanor streets were named after daughters. 19% of men had the vote base on an income of £10 (presumably annual).
Context – life and times during nineteenth century Local themes in and around Huddersfield
As we have seen the late eighteenth and nineteenth century were times of massive turbulence – a time of mechanisation, mass production of cheap quality goods and the personal social upheaval that came with urban living. And the birth of the railway, needed to achieve economic expansion. Prior to that it was packhorse – see Eastergate Bridge in Marsden (the tree has grown quite a bit since I drew this). The canal followed which carried several hundred horses worth, but slow.
Initially raw wool would have been locally sourced. ‘It seemed the West Riding of Yorkshire was a propitious place for the sheep; there were extensive pastures which could support the flocks but were unsuitable for alternative use, there was a supply of soft water for washing, scouring and dyeing, and later from the Pennine streams there was water power to drive machinery’ (History of Wool Industry).
The final cloth would have been taken by the middle man/merchant/clothier to the market where buyers would place their orders. The cheaper cloth was made up into garments locally. Higher quality cloth, worsted, was in demand nationally and internationally. The canal and rail networks would thus have fulfilled their textile role. The waterway through line to Lancashire, via Standedge, was completed in 1811. Otherwise the Aire and Calder Navigation. By 1830, Huddersfield was integral to a complex canal network. The Lancs and Yorks railway, opened 1847, was the only coast to coast route just then. Made in Huddersfield was the textile designer label of the time.
Victoria died 1901.
Handloom Weavers (1) and (2) have covered some of this – a bit of duplication is no bad thing.
It’s all well and good being studious about Kings and Queens and dates, but I’m not sure if my ancestors would have heard much of what was going on in London. Context nevertheless.
It’s a given that industrialisation happened. I’ve tried to make a list of the relevant themes.
(1) Edward Addy delivered domestic coal from the back of a horse and cart. His dad, George, was a railway porter. William Walker was a stoker in a textile mill. The common theme? Coal.
(3) The railway
(5) More relevant information about Lindley and Hillhouse