Manningham Mill people

Manningham Mills, and its personalities in the late nineteenth century


Family historians who discover links with nineteenth century Bradford are likely to discover textile workers. Manningham Mills was first a worsted mill and then the largest silk mill in Europe. Its owner, Samuel Cunliffe Lister, was possibly the most gifted and certainly the most controversial of the Bradford textile magnates. Manningham Mill was the site of a great strike in the early 1890s which led directly to the founding of the Independent Labour Party. I hope that notes on some of the individuals who worked at the mill will be of interest.

The buildings

Manningham Mills was not the first textile factory to occupy the site at the corner of Heaton Road (Lilycroft Lane) and Lilycroft Road(Law Croft Lane). An earlier mill had been built shortly after Queen Victoria’s coronation. This was usually called Lilycroft Mill, although at various times it was also known as Manningham, or Lilly Croft Mill. The construction of the mill in 1838-39 pre-dated the incorporation of Bradford, along with Horton and Manningham, as a borough in 1847. The mill was built by Ellis Cunliffe Lister for two of his sons, John and Samuel, was large by local standards but was nearly destroyed by a violent storm in January 1839. There were no worsted mills in Manningham before 1838, although there were 200 local hand loom weavers. It is known that wool-combing was the last stage of the worsted process to be mechanised. Activities within the first mill were highly significant to textile history since it was there that Lister experimented on the mechanical wool-combs that eventually earned him his first fortune. Lilycroft Mill caught fire on 25 February 1871 and was largely destroyed.

The new Manningham Mill

Samuel Lister had worked in partnership with his brother as successful worsted weavers for several decades. After the fire he built the present Manningham Mill, devoted to silk textiles, expending an estimated sum of £500,000 in the process. The buildings were designed for vertical integration with imported raw waste silk being cleaned, prepared, spun, woven, dyed and ‘finished’ on this single site. A notable feature was ‘Lister’s Pride’, an Italianate style chimney, which alone cost £10,000 to construct. The mill was designed by architects Andrews & Pepper to be fireproof, and had a working floor space of 26 acres. There were departments for spinning, sewing silk manufacture, pile fabric weaving, fancy weaving, dyeing, and finishing. From its elevated situation what remains of Lister’s creation still dominates the city of Bradford today. By 1888 Manningham Mill employed 4,894 persons. The new enterprise experienced nearly twenty years of progress and success and finally, in 1889, it was incorporated as a public company.

Lister & Company

A useful survey of Lister & Co., as it was in the late nineteenth century, is given in press accounts of its incorporation (eg Pall Mall Gazette 1 March 1889). The new company issued £400,000 worth of 4% Debenture stock, 60,000 5% Preference shares at £10 per share, and finally 95,000 Ordinary Shares at £10 per share. The company directors at that time were:

Samuel Cunliffe Lister sir, Chairman of the Board

Samuel Cunliffe Lister jnr.

José Reixach, Clifton Lodge, Manager Pile Fabrics

Wm. Watson, Spring Bank, Manningham, Manager Spinning

Henry Greenwood Tetley, Heaton, Manager Fancy Weaving

Benjamin Thomas Gibbins, Ilkley, Assistant Manager, Pile Fabrics

Reixach and Watson acted as joint managing directors of the company. John Lee was company secretary. The company solicitors were Wilson, Bristows and Carpmael, 1 Copthall Buildings, London EC (who dealt with patents) and Mumford & Johnson of 5 Bank Street, Bradford. The company is described as spinning waste silk into: silk yarn, sewing thread, fancy woven material, velvets, plushes, seals, and pile fabrics. Lister (as vendor of the old company) received the sum of £1,923,359 in cash and shares, and was retained as Chairman of the Board of Directors. During the year before the famous strike Lister & Co. made a profit of £148,000. The mill was basically a six-storied structure; each floor had an area of 1000 sq. yards. At the end of the nineteenth century the mill was divided into five departments, each with their own managers. The departments were: spinning, velvet & plush, fancy weaving, sewing silk and seal dyeing & finishing. The arrangement is reported as being: Beamsley Shed (velvet weaving), Green Shed (fancy weaving), Lily Shed (combing) and Blue Shed (finishing). By 1919 the Lister & Co. directors list had changed considerably as a result of the departure of J Reixach and others, also the deaths of Lister (by then Lord Masham) and his eldest son. The directors were:

Wm. Watson jnr. (Chairman & joint managing director)

W.H. Watson (joint managing director)

Col. G.G. Hoffman

Mr Harold Copperthwaite

Mr FR Lord

Mr Frank Johnson

Mr John Lee (Secretary)

Manningham Mills in 1888 – from the map included with William Cudworth’s Worstedopolis. The map clearly shows the north and south mills divided by Beamsley Road.

Samuel Cunliffe Lister, Lord Masham (1843-1906) ‘The King of Velvet’

Lister was the grandson of John Cunliffe, and the son of Ellis Cunliffe, both wealthy Addingham mill-owners and worsted weavers. Ellis Cunliffe built several mills including Red Beck Mill, Shipley (1815) which he worked himself. He married his cousin Ruth Myers Lister, and combined the two surnames in 1809 under the terms of his father-in-law’s will. Ruth was the heir of her uncle Samuel Lister of Manningham Hall but died young. Ellis Cunliffe Lister’s second wife was Mary Ewbank, the only daughter of William Kay, of Haram Grange in Cottingham. They were married in 1842, and to benefit from a further legacy Ellis Cunliffe Lister became Ellis Cunliffe Lister-Kay. He eventually married for a third time. Ellis Cunliffe Lister Kay died at Manningham Hall, in November, 1853, in his seventy-fifth year. Ellis Cunliffe Lister Kay had four sons who adopted various combinations of his complex surname. In the latter part of his life he was Liberal MP for Bradford. He was succeeded as MP by his eldest son, Mr. W. C. Lister, who, however, died at the age of 31 within a few months of his election. His next son was John Cunliffe Lister, who subsequently assumed the name of Kay on his succeeding to their property. It was this John Cunliffe Lister-Kay for whom Manningham Mill was erected by his father. The land remained his property until, years later, he was bought out by his brother Samuel Cunliffe Lister. On his elder brother’s death in 1841, John Cunliffe Lister retired from business, and went to reside at Farfield Hall, Addingham. He subsequently settled at Godmersham Park, Kent, and lived there until he was well over 80 years of age.

Samuel Cunliffe Lister (later Lord Masham of Swinton) was born at Calverley House in 1815, and into a considerable degree of affluence. He was educated with a view to his entering the Church, his grandmother having bequeathed him the rectory of Addingham on the condition that he should take holy orders. However Lister preferred a commercial and mechanical career, and on leaving school he took a position with a commercial firm at Liverpool (Sands, Turner & Co), and visited the USA several times, becoming known as ‘American Sam’, before ultimately settling down in Bradford. Soon after he came of age he entered into partnership with his elder brother, John in the original Lilycroft mill erected for them by their father (1837). On the death of his father in 1853, Samuel Cunliffe Lister succeeded to Manningham Hall and estate, the remainder of his father’s property being bequeathed to other members of his family. Lister married in the following year, Anne, daughter of John Dearden, Esq., of the Hollins, Halifax, who prematurely died in March, 1875. He had two sons, namely, the Hon. Samuel Cunliffe (b.1857) and John Cunliffe (b.1867) who both, in due course, inherited his title. His daughters were: Annie Cunliffe, Mary Ewbank Cunliffe, Ada Cunliffe, Edith Cunliffe, and Evelyn Cunliffe. Lister eventually owned several estates: Swinton Park, purchased in 1883 from George Danby Affleck, for £400,000, comprising 22,000 acres in extent; Jervaulx Abbey, purchased in 1887 for £310,000, 11,000 acres in extent; a portion of the Ackton Hall Estate, Featherstone (including a colliery), purchased in February, 1891, for the sum of £192,000 and 1216 acres in extent; the Middleham Estate, including Middleham Castle, purchased for about £70,000 at the end of 1889. Finally he bought extensive estates in the Punjab, Dehra Dun and Assam, India.

When Lister was first in business the whole of the wool used in the Bradford worsted manufacture was combed by hand, and was given out to the combers to be manipulated into ‘top sliver’ at their own homes. Thousands of workmen were engaged in this occupation before the combing machine came into operation. Several inventors were working on mechanised wool-combing including George Donnisthorpe and James Noble in Leeds, and Isaac Holden in Bradford. Lister was an inventor and perfected his own wool-combing machine by the 1860s. But the development was not without its controversy. An Alsatian inventor, Josué Heilmann believed he held a patent on a similar wool-combing machine and Lister eventually seems to have bought him out. Later Lister later fell out with his sometime partner, Sir Isaac Holden, over which had first developed the square motion wool-combing machine; this disagreement lasted until the end of Lister’s life, and indeed a substantial part of his final book Lord Masham’s Inventions, written only months before his death, is devoted to an exegesis on this disagreement, Sir Isaac then being safely dead. William Watson’s expert opinion, expressed in a letter to Lister’s son, was that no one in Bradford cared. In the collection of the BIM is a letter from Hattersleys of Keighley (T2002-834/4) indicating that they made the first power loom for J & SC Lister in 1838, this being only three years after the first power loom in Yorkshire was made by Hattersleys for Messrs Hargreaves of Burley Wood. During this period Lister was taken up with developing mechanised wool-combing. This process was not without its controversies but by 1856 he must have owned one of the world’s largest wool-combing concerns and could sell his mechanical combs for £1000 each.

It is not likely that Lister was the first person to recognise the value of silk waste but it seems certain that he was (in 1855) amongst the earliest textile manufacturers to appreciate the great commercial potential of certain types of waste silk as a natural fibre for spinning. He bought a large quantity of ostensibly inferior waste from a Mr Spensly, a London waste silk broker, and was able to devise (after the expenditure of the then vast sum of £250,000) machines to comb, spin, and weave it into a variety of silk fabrics. Lister was prepared to back his ideas to the utmost. At Addingham he and his partner, James Warburton, had worked on the silk-combing machine but this initially was troublesome, producing too little top and too much noil. James Warburton was so unsure of ultimate success that he dissolved the partnership in 1864, an act which he may later have regretted. The successful silk combing machine easily recouped the money spent on its development, and was responsible for Lister being awarded an Albert Medal in 1886 for services to the textile industry. Worse, in a letter of April 1897, Lister reported spending £4000 actually prosecuting his one-time partner who was found guilty of a conspiracy to defraud him. There are press reports reports in the Leeds Mercury 1870 concerning this complex case which is also mentioned in Lord Masham’s Inventions. Lister had travelled to Saxony personally to seize books and documents from James and his brother Joseph. After conviction James Warburton fled abroad before sentencing, and was seen no more.

Lister’s life was not always easy. There was the fire at Lilycroft Mill and within a few years (1874) one of his other mills in Halifax, Wellington Mill, was destroyed by fire originating from a gas main. Five mill girls perished in the blaze for which Lister was eventually compensated by Halifax Corporation to the extent of £27,500. By 1880 Lister had abandoned wool-combing entirely and was concentrating on silk, with the result that Isaac Holden became sole proprietor of the wool-combing plants that they had established together in France at Croix and Rheims. Building developments continued at Manningham Mills with James Ledingham acting as company architect. In 1889 Lister turned his business into a limited liability company for the sum of £1,928,368, himself remaining the largest shareholder with about a million pounds worth of shares. During this period the co-managing directors were José Reixach and William Watson jnr. Reixach managed the north (velvet) mill and Watson the south (spinning) mill. Between December 1890 and April 1891 there was a bitter strike at Manningham Mills triggered by the reduction in the rates of pay for velvet weavers. The strike is believed to have stimulated the rise of Trade Unionism among the spinners and weavers of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and ultimately the formation of the Independent Labour Party in Bradford two years later. Lister had inherited Manningham Hall which he sold in 1870 to Bradford Corporation at a greatly reduced cost (£40,000). The estate was developed as Lister Park. Lister later part funded the demolition of the Hall and the construction of Cartwright Hall Memorial Hall (1903) which was named after Rev Dr Edmund Cartwright, inventor of an early wool-combing machine. The four corners of Cartwright Hall are said to rest on engine-bed stones from Manningham Mills. It is hard to equate this generosity with his refusal to increase his workers earnings by a few shillings at a time when he was spending vast sums on the purchase of estates.

In accounts of his life it is often stated that Lister had been offered a baronetcy which he declined with thanks. None of the accounts explain the full circumstances. The offer was indeed made in Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee honours when he was 72. A notification of the award appeared widely in the newspapers and on 21 June 1887 Lister received a letter of congratulation from the two managing directors at Manningham Mills. Then in July 1887 a further notification was carried in the press to the effect that Lister was not intending ‘to avail himself of the honour’. The reasons for his refusal at the eleventh hour inevitably excited much speculation. One press report suggested that Lister had written to the appropriate department in advance declining the honour and was horrified when his name appear on the released list. It is impossible to be certain. Finally Lister was created Lord Masham of Swinton on 15 July 1891, and when he died on 2 February 1906 (at Swinton Castle) he was one of the richest men in England. He was buried at Addingham Church. His eldest son, Samuel Cunliffe Cunliffe-Lister, who had been educated at Harrow & St John’s College, Oxford, became the 2nd Baron Masham; although he succeeded to the chairmanship of Lister & Co. he was uninterested in commerce, unmarried, and died on 24 January 1917. The 3rd Baron was his younger brother John who, after failing to manage the Lister coal interests profitably, married Elizabeth Brockton. He was known as a sportsman but also led a retired life dying in 1924 without having issue.

S.C. Lister, later Lord Masham (from Ciba Review 111)

The Swinton Estate (21848 acres; 7689 acres moorland) had been purchased by the first Lord Masham in 1884 for £400,000 plus £57,000 for timber. The agents were Messrs. Chinnock, Galsworthy, Chinnock of 11, Waterloo Place, Pall Mall. The Jervaulx Abbey Estate (10998 acres) adjoined Swinton and was purchased by Lord Masham in 1889, and a third smaller estate north of Middleham was also purchased giving a total acreage of 33917 acres and a cost of £866,000. An amazing picture of Lord Masham’s life, at home in Swinton, can be drawn from a document entitled, rather unpromisingly, ‘Colsterdale & Leighton Reservoirs in Arbitration 1903’ (Y628.13.LIS, Bradford Local Studies Library). Essentially Leeds Corporation wished to construct reservoirs on Lord Masham’s Swinton Estate, and in 1903 representatives of both parties met at the Westminster Palace Hotel for an arbitration. Lord Masham claimed £196,000 compensation.

Evidently £100,000 had been spent on alterations to Swinton Castle in its 255 acre grounds; furniture and pictures were also purchased. Decorations alone cost £10,906. A good stone quarry was close to the proposed reservoir site and had been used as a source of stone for an extension to the house. There was also coal and slate (sic) on the estate. Swinton Castle was 10 miles from Ripon and 30 miles from Leeds. There were trains from Leeds to Masham Station 2 miles from Swinton. Masham received three trains each day but Lord Masham could always have a ‘special train’ put on, or could motor to Ripon. Lord Masham’s eldest son, Mr SC Lister, lived with his father and by the time of the arbitration the estates had been divided between them. The document explains that ‘the fishing was good’ and that the estate owned 30 miles of bank along the River Ure. Lord Masham’s agent explained that he owned ‘one of the finest shooting estates in Yorkshire’; in 1902 no less than 2455 pheasants, 1107 partridges, 469 hares and 4327 rabbits had been shot. Lord Masham had a tenant at Jervaulx, Hector Christie, who considered that the estate had been ‘much undershot’. The Bedale Hunt met at Swinton. Lord Masham employed a considerable staff at Swinton: 8 indoor female servants at £25 per year wages plus 10/- board, 10 male servants, mostly gardeners at £50 per year plus bonus. Swinton consumed 300-400 tons of coal each year; coal and rates together cost £500 per annum. On Swinton Estate there were 308 tenants: 5 with 300-400 acres, 15 200-300 acres, 23 100-300 (sic) acres, 136 small-holdings, 27 houses and shops, and 102 cottage tenants.

José Reixach (c1843-1918) ‘King Plush’

We know of no biography of Reixach although local Bradford historian Wade Hustwick wrote a valuable account of his life in 1967 (Lister Magazine: 144, 10-11). Nor do we know who first coined the ‘King Plush’ title, but Lister himself certainly uses it in Lord Masham’s Inventions. Reixach was ‘discovered’ in Spain by Lister’s Mill Manager, Benjamin Nussey. Reixach has a Catalan surname and Catalonia had its own silk industry, but we know no more concerning his origins. He was brought to Bradford in 1868 to perfect the Jacinto Barrau y Cortés double pile velvet power loom whose patent Lister had purchased for £2000, and with which Reixach was familiar. Basically the two pieces were woven face to face. One practical difficulty was keeping the knife that automatically cut between the two pieces, creating the pile, permanently sharp. Lister suggested a small grinding wheel and patented the idea. Despite the destruction by fire of the original mill and its contents, in 1871, drawings were saved and the velvet power loom was in full operation by 1878. Lister & Reixach could now produce great quantities of cheap velvet and in 1882 took out a joint patent for a power loom which we assume was a modification of the first (Leeds Mercury 13 September 1892). Reixach became head of the Velvet Department, and eventually joint managing director of Lister’s with William Watson jnr. It looks as if Reixach handled staff and technical matters, whereas Watson was more concerned with spinning, sales, and contracts. When Lister & Co. became a public company in 1889 Reixach was appointed a Director along with Lister himself, Watson, Henry Greenwood Tetley and Benjamin Gibbins. John Lee was the very long-serving company secretary. Reixach’s BIM letters to Lister (volume 888/2) are dominated by three events: the prosecution of foreman dyer Francis Stubbs for conspiracy to defraud the Company, the introduction in the USA of the McKinley Tariffs on imported goods, and the famous nineteen week Manningham Mills strike of 1890-91. This strike was triggered by the reduction of the velvet weavers’ wages but eventually most of the Works employees were affected. Reixach was an important figure in this episode; its failure, led directly to the formation of the Independent Labour Party two years later.

Obtaining further information about Reixach is made more complicated by the many ways his surname is spelled. Census information proves that he was an ‘engineer’ lodging in Manningham in the 1871 census, although his name is recorded as Jose Kingach. He was naturalised as a British citizen in 1875, and in the same year a ‘Joseph Reixach’, son of Francis and Catherine was baptised in Manningham. Could this have been José himself undergoing adult baptism? The following year he married Mary Gant, the daughter of James Greaves Tetley Gant, a solicitor, and Sarah Ann Gaunt. James Greaves Tetley Gant was a descendant of Benjamin Gant of Rose Cottage, Low Fold, Bolton. Reixach’s brother in law was Tetley Gant (1853-1928), a barrister, who emigrated to Tasmania. The earlier history of the Gant family is given in William Cudworth’s History of Bolton. Reixach was always smartly dressed and spoke, or at least wrote, impeccable English. For many years he suffered from chronic rheumatism and his medical problems feature in some of his later correspondence. It is clear that he regularly visited the Droitwich Salt Baths and other spas. In the 1881 census his name was given in full as Jose R. Reixach y Gispert. He was living at 10 Selborn(e) Grove at this time. In the 1883-84 Directory he is called Jose Ryshack and lives at 3 Selbourn Grove. In the 1891 Bradford PO Directory the surname was spelled as it was presumably pronounced – ‘Reizach’. In the census of 1891 the names of his family are mutilated still further; at the time they seemed to be holidaying in Scarborough at 7 Esplanade Road: Doris Ruxacky-Gespert (43), Mary Ruxacky-Gespert (38), Reggie Ruxacky-Gespert (11) and Josephine Ruxacky Gespert (8). The mysterious ‘Doris’ is in fact José himself with his first name poorly recorded by an enumerator. The Bradford Directories between 1887 and 1891 give Reixach’s address as 10, Selborne Grove, Manningham or 5 Clifton Lodge, Manningham. Whatever the mysteries of his earlier accommodation by the census of 1901 he was definitively living at Clifton Lodge, 5 Clifton Villas, Manningham with his son Reginald (then an Oxford student). The house is now a Latvian Social Club.

Reixach’s and eighteen year old daughter Josephine, lived apart in Scarborough at the time of the 1901 census. We think this represents a holiday rather than marital separation since the whole family had stayed at this Scarborough address before. At this time his salary was £16,000 per year. One has to remember this when appreciating that his striking weavers earned only £60 pa. In the last 15 years of his time at Lister & Co he was frequently away sick with sciatica or rheumatism. He sends far fewer letters to the chairman of the Board and Watson seems to become a far more consequential person at the works. In 1911 Reixach was still living at 5 Clifton Villas with his wife, but in 1916, after nearly 50 years’ service to Lister’s, Don José Reixach y Gisbert retired and went to live in Trumpeter’s House, Old Palace Yard, Richmond, Surrey. This was a beautiful Queen Anne house built on the site of Richmond Palace. The garden of Trumpeter’s House featured in a recent Channel 4 Time Team episode. As evidenced by the letters of Watson there was some controversy over the financial aspects of this retirement but in any case Reixach did not live long to enjoy the fruits of his labours, dying in 1918.

After Reixach’s death his son Reginald inherited Trumpeter’s House and lived there from 1918 until his own death. Reginald is a less well-known figure. In the 1901 census he was said to be a medical student but we have no evidence that he ever practised medicine. The letters confirm that in 1903 his father had to visit him suddenly in London because of some ‘problem’. They later travelled to Spain together. As a young man Reggie was regarded as ‘not very strong’, but again in 1904 Watson remarks that ‘Reixach is having a lot of bother with his son’. In 1906 he was present at Lord Masham’s funeral, his name being included in a list of Lister & Co employees. It is said that Reggie was a friend of Richard Hornshaw’s (see below), although he was far closer in terms of age to Richard’s son Rayson Hornshaw (‘RW’ b.1886) who was later himself a director of Lister & Co. Reggie certainly attended Richard Hornshaw’s funeral in 1918 only a few days after his own father had died. As a much older adult Reggie is mentioned in the book Sidney Howard & Clare Eames: American theatre’s perfect couple of the 1920s by Arthur Gerwitz. Reggie seems to have been known in America and probably travelled there on three occasions. It seems that some time before her unexpected death in 1930 Clare Eames had an attack of severe abdominal pain. Reggie Reixach sent her his own doctor from Richmond to see her. In Gerwitz’s book Reggie is described as ‘rich and sexually neuter’. He certainly seemed content to live with his mother. Reggie shared Trumpeter’s House with Mary Reixach until she died in 1930. He died there himself in 1942 and both Mary and Reggie are buried in Richmond cemetery. Reggie’s funeral was attended by English film actor Brian Ahearne and other members of his family. Ahearne was married to American film star Joan Fontaine at the time, but she wasn’t present. After Reggie Reixach’s death the house was sold. José Reixach’s daughter Josephine (born 1883) married a soldier, William Charles Banbury, who was killed in action during the first year of the Great War. Her second husband was Lt-Cdr Rupert Craven RN. Josephine had children by both husbands, and their descendants could easily be living still. She outlived all the members of her own generation, although WH Watson ran her close, and she died as recently as 1971. One of the Watson letters suggests she had entered into an earlier engagement to a man of whom her father disapproved. If this was a formal engagement there should be a press announcement somewhere. She and her parents spent long portions of each year in Scarborough. Miss Reixach was an excellent horsewoman who in 1896, at the age of 13 was fined 10s for furiously riding along Scarborough sands to the danger of the public!

The Watson Family

Four generations of this family served Lister at Manningham Mills and Addingham, all of whom in theory could have been called Mr W. Watson. These were:

William Watson sir (1823-1912)

William Watson jnr. (1846-1925)

William Hainsworth ‘WH’ Watson (1880-1965)

William Graham Anthony Watson (1908-2006) Heaton Rise, Bradford

Remarkably all four men were alive simultaneously in the period 1908-12; the last, Graham Watson, a bachelor, left estate (valued at £3.8 million) to the National Trust, Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and Giggleswick School.

William Watson sir had been born in Blantyre, Scotland in 1823. He was trained in cotton spinning and worked in Glasgow. He was married to Jean McMillan; they had had two daughters Maggie and Bella and two sons, William & Joseph. He and his family moved south in 1859 when Lister gave him the post of Manager at Low Mill, Addingham, then mainly spinning cotton and linen yarn. In 1874 he became Manager of part of Manningham Mills. We have heard that he later severed the connection with Lister’s and then built, or leased, Burnside Mill, Addingham for hosiery weaving, but this incident is not mentioned in his obituary. The Craven Commercial Directory of 1884 gives the Watsons in Addingham as follows:

Wm Watson sir: silk spinner and manufacturers, Wolseley Shed r Beech Tree House

Wm Watson jnr.: Mill Manager, Main Street

Joseph Watson: Manager, Victoria terrace

William Watson sir must have enjoyed a long retirement since he lived until 1912. William Watson snr.’s second son can be dealt with briefly. He was Joseph Watson (1848-1925) who worked in textiles in Addingham. He had some, poorly defined, connection with Lister & Co but possibly he took over his father’s premises in Addingham. Both Reixach and his brother mention that he ‘ate too well and took too little exercise’. It doesn’t seem to have affected his life-expectancy much. Joseph remained at Addingham and married Martha Ann Hudson. He had a son, Joe Watson, (born 1890) who definitely did manage Addingham Low Mill for Lister & Co, and who died in 1955.

William Watson snr.’s first-born son, born in Glasgow on 27 April 1846, was William Watson jnr. He initially worked for Lister’s at Addingham (probably from 1867) but came to Manningham in 1886 on the retirement of Benjamin Nussey. He was manager of the spinning department at Manningham Mills, and then joint Managing Director with Reixach, whom he survived by a decade. He seems to have been an inventor with several patents to his name. Perhaps he was more committed to Lister & Co. than his father, although this did not stop him being also a director of Bradford District Bank and the Ilkley Hydropathic Hotel. Watson enjoyed shooting and, especially, golf. He was an early member of Ilkley Golf Club and he won a ‘Captain’s prize’ of a gold cigarette holder in 1901.

Watson’s name is associated with the production of spun silk yarn. After Reixach’s retirement Watson was joint managing director with his son, WH Watson. His wife was Annie Watson (nee Hainsworth) who was a very able women in the fields of poetry and music. Annie had been born in Burley Woodhead in 1854, her father being Marshall Hainsworth, of Ilkley and her mother Elizabeth Marston. Annie married William at Burley in October 1876. William and Annie Watson first lived at 1 Spring Bank, Manningham Lane in the 1890s. They seem to have purchased Heaton Rise, 4 Park Drive in 1900-01. The house had been built by a Mr Harris of the Bradford Bank and they lived there for about 10 years. By 1911 however their address was ‘Beech House’, Addingham. William Watson jnr. died on holiday in a hotel at Grange over Sands on 1 June 1925 in his 80th year. Annie Watson survived him for some years living until March 1931. Both are buried at Ilkley Cemetery the inscription reading: In memory of William Watson born April 27th 1846 died June 1st 1925 And of Anne, his wife, born March 1st 1854 died July 4th 1931 And of Elizabeth their daughter died March 7th 1934

William & Annie Watson had two children. Elsie Watson and WH Watson. Although known as Elsie their daughter was actually baptised Elizabeth McMillan Watson in 1878. In her father’s letters she almost always appears in the phrase ‘my wife and Elsie’ and once (in childhood) the phrase ‘Will and Elsie’. She scarcely appeared to have an independent existence at all. She was three years junior to WH Watson. In 1910 she had an unspecified operation undertaken by Lord Moynihan at Leeds which is the only certain fact about her in the whole correspondence. She never married and an informant remembers seeing a photograph of her as a ‘youngish woman’ in a wheelchair. Some form of chronic illness seems likely to explain all these facts. In the collection of the BIM (T2002-834/5) there is a letter written by Elsie to her father in 1884 when she was 6 years old. Despite the juvenile misspellings it is clear and well written suggesting an early intelligence. Elsie died in 1934 and is buried with her parents at Ilkley Cemetery.

Mr WH (William Hainsworth) Watson (1880-1965) was the son of William Watson jnr. with whom he was eventually joint managing director of Manningham Mills. ‘WH’ married Grace Scott Watson (1875-1964) the daughter of James Watson a famous Bradford water engineer. The two Watson families were not recently related. James Watson (father of Grace) married twice and there were two sets of children. His first wife was Agnes Cassells born 1844, her father was John Cassells who was the Recorder for Lanarkshire. James’s second wife, sister to Agnes, was called Elizabeth Cassells. She died in Bradford in 1906. Grace had several brothers but these were probably not connected with Lister: Tom Watson and Leslie Watson who married Maisie from Ilkley. Leslie was a prisoner of war during the Great War. A BIM postcard archive suggests that WH & Grace moved into Heaton Rise towards the end of 1911, and may well have lived there for over 50 years. WH Watson had three sons, all of whom died without issue:

Graham Watson MA (1908-2002). Marlborough and Emmanuel College, Cambridge; managing director of Lister’s until his retirement. Graham Watson ended the family connection with Lister’s, or its successors, when he retired in 1959. He remained living at Heaton Rise until his death 40 years later.

James Watson (1911-1939). He tragically died in an road accident shortly after his honeymoon.

David Moray Watson (1915-1988). We know every little about David. He was fluent in German and after serving in the Second World War he became a Commissioner for the Austrian Principality of Corinthia, before returning to England and the mill, with a German-born wife. He lived at 106, Highgate, Heaton for some years.

The Hornshaw Family

This was another four generation family that served Lister & Co. John Hornshaw was a saddler by trade from Thorpe Edge, Leeds. He married a Louisa Makepeace and they had 10 children. He lived in Bradford for many years, close to his daughter Elizabeth, whom he seems to have outlived, and latterly at 7 Athol Road with their daughter Lucy. We are fairly certain that he worked at Lister & Co. on his own account and the company would certainly have had a leather department. As a very old man he attended Lord Masham’s funeral in the Lister & Co. group, but he may have been representing his son Richard who does not seem to have been present. Richard Hornshaw (1858-1918) was a son of John who had been born in Knaresborough. He came to Bradford in 1871. He is mentioned on several occasions in the BIM letters. He devoted 40 years of service to Lister & Co. and was employed at every level from a 15 year-old office boy, salesman, manager, and (after 1913) company director. In 1885 Richard married Maria Hargreaves in Shepton Mallet, Somerset; we assume that this was where Maria’s parents were living at the time. Neither she or Richard had been born in Somerset. In the 1891 census he was living with his wife at Attleborough, presumably because he was manager of the Lister & Co mill at nearby Nuneaton.

In 1900 he was living near the Mill at 4 Birr Road. By 1911 he lived in a new house at Wood Brow, Highgate, Heaton where he may well have been the first owner. He died there on 17 September 1918 shortly after an operation. His funeral service was held at St Barnabas Church on 21 September and he was buried at Nab Wood Cemetery. Watson, WH Watson and John Lee attended as representatives of Lister & Co; so did Reggie Reixach which rather confirms the account that he and Richard Hornshaw were close friends. The current Lord Masham, Samuel Lister's youngest son, did not attend which may suggest that he was distancing himself from events at Manningham Mills. In the account of his funeral in the Yorkshire Observer (21 September 1918) Richard's sisters are said to be a Miss Hornshaw and a Mrs Mort. Richard seems to have been the nephew of Isabella Hornshaw, a spiritualist from Thorpe Arch, Leeds. He was certainly the brother of Elizabeth Walker, Athol Road, Bradford who moved in similar circles. One of her children was Charles Walker, later the Manager of Lister & Co.'s dye-house and whose son Jack also worked at Lister & Co. until 1968. Another child of Elizabeth Walker was Horace Robert Walker who became Lord Mayor of Bradford. Maria Hornshaw died less than a year after her husband and is buried with him. 

Richard & Maria Hornshaw had two sons: Rayston W Hornshaw and Frederick G Hornshaw. At the time of Richard's Hornshaw's funeral the younger, Major FG Hornshaw, was away on war service with the West Yorkshire Regiment and could not attend. He died in 1927 at the age of 31; was early death connected with the Great War? The elder son, 'RW', as he was called, also worked for Lister & Co, and rose to become a director like his father. He, in turn, had a son, Richard Alan 'Dick' Hornshaw, who finally retired from Lister & Co. in 1981 after a family connection lasting over a century.

The Lepper Family

This family was not as important as the Watsons but none the less two generations served Lister & Co. in England and in India. A man called Francis Lepper was born in 1820 in Ireland, where Lepper is a reasonably common surname. Lepper mentions Canada in his letters, presumably he must have been there at some time in his life and this raises a very interesting possibility. An Army List (1840) states that Ensign F. Lepper joined the 81st Regiment of Foot on 7 February 1840. We can be certain that ‘F’ was ‘Francis’ since in the London Gazette of March 1851 a Lieutenant Francis Lepper of the 81st Regiment of Foot purchased the rank of Captain. The 81st Regiment of Foot (later the Loyal Lincoln Volunteers) served in Canada in the late 1840s and in 1853 was sent to India. It does then appear that Francis Lepper was a regular soldier before he came to Bradford and had travelled to Canada certainly, and to India probably. By 1860 Francis Lepper was Captain & first Adjutant of the 3rd West York Bradford Rifle Volunteers whose first Lt.-Colonel was our Samuel Cunliffe Lister (1859-1862). The activities of the WYBRV appear regularly in the Bradford Observer in the 1860s, their base being the Belle Vue barracks in Manningham Lane. In the 1861 census Francis & Mary Lepper, together with their 5-year old son Arthur H Lepper, lived at 5 Fairmount, Manningham. Trade directory evidence shows that Lepper continued to work for his old Colonel, Lister. By 1870 he was a confidential agent living at 8 North Park Road. From press reports it seems he was present when Lilycroft Mill burned down and was agent or ‘project manager’ for the construction of the new Manningham Mills. He was certainly part of the luncheon party that ascended the chimney known as ‘Lister’s Pride’. In 1875-1879 he was a manager at Manningham Mills and lived at Rookwood, Victor Road, later the home of Lister’s director Gustavus Hoffmann. The family must have been quite well to do at that time, and had three servants. Throughout he was styled as Capt. F(rancis) Lepper but he disappears from record around 1880. Neither Francis or Mary are in the 1881 census and in fact we know from a press notice in The Standard, and his will, that Francis Lepper died on 3 December 1879 at the Hotel du Paridis, Nice in France, aged 60. He left £4000 and George Pepper (see below) was one of his executors.

Francis and Mary had two sons. The younger was Arthur H Lepper, born in Scarborough who was with his parents in the 1861 census. In this census his elder brother Charles (born in Edinburgh, 1851) was at school in Barnes, Surrey. The school seems to be called Nassau House (there is still a Nassau Road in Barnes). In the 1871 census Arthur is missing but now Charles Harper Lepper (20) appears with his parents in Bradford, and is now ‘clerk to a silk-spinning house’, obviously Manningham Mills. On the basis of these letters and additional correspondence curated by the West Yorkshire Archives (82D 88/7) it seems certain that Charles Lepper became the manager of Lister’s silk & tea estates in Assam in the period 1873-1883, having previously been in China, and involved in some unspecified trouble there in 1872. Lister seems to have had several agents in different Indian estates at this period: Charles Lepper, Captain (later Major) Murray, and a Mr Keighley. Charles Lepper was an FRGS but was clearly an extravagant failure as a businessman, at least according to Lister he was. But even when Lister is berating him he is always addressed as ‘Charles’. In an age when Christian names were rare in business correspondence this suggests quite an intimate family connection. We’ve learned a little more about Charles from the Royal Geographical Society. CH Lepper of Eria Barre, Sudya Road, Dibrugarh, Upper Assam (Tea Planter) was proposed by Rutherford Alcock, W. E Forster and H.H. Godwin-Austen in November 1878, that is about 5 years after the correspondence preserved in BIM. Notice of this election was to be sent to Mr A Holiday, Bradford. Rutherford Alcock was an oriental diplomat and President of the RGS; WE Forster FRS was an industrialist and Liberal MP for Bradford. Lt-Col. Harry Godwin-Austen was a topographer and geologist who at that time served with the Trigonometrical Survey of India and was the author of Birds of Assam. If Charles Lepper actually knew these men he was moving in high geographical circles indeed.

In 1879 the RGS has Lepper’s address as Rookwood, Bradford which was his parent’s home. Perhaps he was summonsed back to England because of his father’s last illness. In 1882 his address was given as c/o Alexander Lawrie 14 St Mary-axe, E.C. (Alexander Lawrie’s enterprises traded as Alexander Lawrie & Co. in London, and Balmer Lawrie in Calcutta). One source describes him as ‘Mr Lepper of Alexander Lawrie & Co’ when he tried to establish a route through the Singhpo people through Assam to Yunnan in China. A man of the same name wrote a book, The question of an overland route to China from India via Assam: with some notes on the source of the Irrawaddi River, in 1882. The West Yorkshire Archives have a final dismissive letter from SC Lister to Charles Lepper in 1883. There are also contemporary press reports that confirm that the Assam silk project did fail. The estate was converted to tea growing and Lister bought silk producing estates in the Punjab and Dehra Dun. Lepper then seems to have returned to England since the RGS have three English addresses for the next 6 years: 1884 – 61 Leathwaite Road, Clapham Common, 1886 – Baskerville, Wandsworth Common and, finally, 1890 – Rostella, Prettiwell, Southend, Essex. This last address may be highly significant since Rostella is a place near Kilbeggan, Co Neath, Ireland. Could Lepper have been telling us something about his family’s origin? We can pick Charles Lepper up again in the 1891 census. He gives his age as 40 and his profession as ‘East India merchant’. He is married to Emma Hepper (31) who was born in Yardley, Leics and they have a 5 year old son (Gerald) and 3 year old daughter (Eileen). This suggests he married almost immediately after his return to England and indeed a marriage certificate in this name exists for 1883 in Richmond, Surrey. Thereafter there are no further addresses listed by the RGS and, as we shall see, Lepper probably emigrated to South Africa shortly afterwards. There is evidence of a third child (Francis Harper Lepper) who sadly was born and died in the same year, 1884. The second son, Gerald, was baptised on Christmas Day 1885. The ‘father’s occupation’ is given then as ‘literature’ and Charles certainly seems to have been a writer in a minor way; his story Ralph’s Adventures en route to an Indian Tea Estate appeared in the Boy’s Own Paper in July & August 1884 and Thibet was published by Keegan Paul Trench & Co in 1885. There are several articles by him in the Pall Mall Gazette of 1885-86 on the subject of an Indian & Colonial museum and related matters, so we imagine he was still in England in that year.

We know from Reixach’s letters that ‘Lepper’s wife’ died in Cheltenham in 1891. This was Charles Lepper’s mother since it is recorded that a Mary Lepper, born in 1818, died in Cheltenham that year on 1 April 1891 leaving £626. Charles was an executor and is then described as a ‘ventilation engineer’, still at the Southend address. We can’t find Charles Lepper, Emma or Gerald in the 1891 census. Charles Lepper was removed from his RGS fellowship in 1896 which probably indicates, according to the archivist, that he simply stopped paying his subscription. If he was a journalist he may well have been the CH Lepper who was editor of the Natal Witness in Pietermaritzburg around the time of the Boer War, as we shall see he definitely travelled to South Africa. He attended the AGM of the Royal Colonial Society in London in 1898 and we have evidence for the whole family travelling back to Southampton from the USA in 1900 using the SS Tantallon. A book published in 1911 entitled National prosperity, how to attain it: The Union’s opportunity by Charles H Lepper may be our last glimpse of him. No members of his family can be found in the UK census for 1911, although his son was in the UK during the Great War.

It seems quite natural that in 1874 Charles’s brother, young Arthur Lepper, then 18 years old, should also join the firm for which his father and brother worked. Arthur was employed by Lister & Co. for 21 years but we get the impression from a farewell letter Watson wrote that he was rather ‘talking up’ the significance of Arthur’s post in the warehouse. We have no attested evidence about the circumstances of Charles Lepper’s emigration from India to South Africa. Be that as it may, in February 1895 Arthur left Lister & Co. to travel to South Africa to join his elder brother, by then his only living close relative. In his farewell letter Watson says ‘do not hesitate to refer to us’ and in fact we know from the Reixach letters (880/2) that a Mr Lepper did in fact write to Lister in 1896 with requests that Reixach ‘would attend to’. What these were are at present unknown but, since Reixach wanted to defer the reply until Watson’s return, it was probably a request for further employment. Arthur Lepper travelled back from Yokohama to London, arriving in March 1896. Allowing for journey times he can only have been in South Africa for a few months. In 1901 we find Arthur as 45-year old lodger in Keighley at 166 Carlo Road. He had not returned to Lister & Co. but was a clerk in a loom-maker’s office. Two years later Arthur Lepper was again writing to Watson hoping to get his old job back, and being turned down on grounds that are never specified.

It is quite possible that we can follow the Lepper family into a further generation. The 1891 census records Gerald Lepper as a 5 year old boy. By 1905 a Gerald H Lepper (then aged 19) was writing papers on amateur astronomy giving an address of ‘Maritzberg, Natal, South Africa’. The following year he travelled alone to from Durban to England, giving his profession as ‘journalist’ in the passenger list of the SS Kenilworth Castle. The following year he crossed the Atlantic to the USA, bound for San Francisco and gave his profession as engineer. He must have liked the USA since the 1910 Federal Census identifies him as a single engineer boarding at Township 4 Glenn, California. However in the same year he travels to Montreal, Canada en route to Liverpool. In 1912 Gerald (26) married Amy G Taylor in the St Giles’s district of London. Their son Charles JH Lepper is born the following year. It would have been hard for a young man of this age to avoid the Great War and in fact we have found this notification in the London Gazette: ‘Northern Signal Companies (Army Troops); Gerald Harper Lepper to be Second Lieutenant. 29 April, 1915’. Happily Gerald survived the conflict and in 1921-22 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society with the address of 4 Radnor Road, Harrow, Middlesex. In 1923 Gerald H Lepper was an associate editor of a book called ‘The story of the Cape to Cairo railway & river route from 1887 to 1922’. We then lose track of Gerald until the 1950s which begins with two deaths. His wife Amy died in 1951 at Harrow, and the following year the only son we know of died at the early age of 39 in Mere, Wiltshire. In the same year Gerald (by then a journalist again) left for New York. Gerald may have been estranged from his immediate family since he gives his address as: 131 St James Ave Thorpe Bay, Essex. He evidently returned to the UK since on 17 February 1953 Gerald re-marries, a Marie Mickle, in Kensington. Our final view of him is his death in Florida, USA in March 1965. Gerald Lepper’s sister Eileen is more mysterious. She never married and in 1924 her profession is recorded as ‘librarian’ when she travels from Sydney, Australia with her mother (presumably by then a widow) back to England. In 1936 she travels to Durban but at some stage she returned to the UK and died at the age of 86 in Hailsham, East Sussex as recently as 1973.

George Pepper

George Pepper was the Lister & Co. chief engineer. For many years he lived with his family at 1 Devonshire Terrace, Manningham (off Oak Lane). This was his address in the 1879 – 1891 Bradford Directories but in the 1898 Bradford PO Directory and 1900 Burgess Roll George Pepper was a consulting engineer of 85 Emm Field Villas, Emm Lane, Heaton. Mr Pepper is mentioned in the mill correspondence from 1887, and did not retire as the Mill engineer until 1903 having given 31 years service. Watson noted that his salary was £500 per year. It seems he was latterly known as ‘Old Pepper’ at the Mill. Watson wrote that Pepper ‘is to retire to a cottage 3 miles away’ (which we believe was in Saltaire) but in the 1912 Directory of Bradford a George Pepper back at 1 Devonshire Terrace.

George was born in Bermondsey, London in 1841 and in the mid-1870s was married to Kate Pepper (35: born Stockton). His children were then: Herbert (5), Reginald (3) and Henry (1). At present we do not have a date of death. On several occasions the directors seem, for reasons unknown, seem to have been on the verge of dismissing him. In March 1897 a Mr Pepper is said to ‘represent our mechanics’ and thus may have been too close to the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, which would make him unpopular with the directors. As late as 1905 Lister is asking Watson if Pepper had ‘undertaken any work’ since he left Manningham Mills. George Pepper does not appear to have attended Lister’s funeral but he sent a floral tribute. George Pepper was a brother of Joseph Pepper, one of the architects of Manningham Mill. George Pepper’s father died in London during the course of the BIM correspondence, but in the 1871 census the whole family had been living at 16 Whitehall Road, Wyke:

Joseph was married in 1873 but sadly his wife Eliza (Duckett) died in Filey, aged only 28, on 4 November 1876. We doubt that Joseph Pepper was alive himself after 1880-81. George Pepper was a witness at Joseph Pepper’s marriage, and in the Bradford directory of 1879-80 both George & Joseph Pepper both gave their address as 1 Devonshire Terrace. The tendency of Victorian letter writers to use surnames only makes identification most difficult. In Sept 1880 SC Lister writes to Charles Lepper in India about a visit to Calcutta: ‘Mr Pepper is away and (we) cannot say anything about the passage until he returns.’ Could this remark possibly refer to the Mill engineer? George Pepper was one of the executors of Charles’s late father Francis Lepper; was this a consideration? There seems also to have been a John Pepper who was a lieutenant in the West Yorks Artillery Volunteers and a ‘Lieut Pepper’ served with Lister in the West Yorkshire Rifle Volunteers; could he have been related?

Frank Bamford

Frank Bamford was a dyer. Possibly he was the man of this name who lived at 9 Beamsley Road in 1895 and 1 Farcliffe Place, Manningham in the 1906 Directory, and finally in Duckworth Terrace. In Fenner Brockway’s biography of Fred Jowett MP the author wrote that Bamford was originally a miner who learned chemistry so successfully that he rose from a labouring job with Lister & Co. to become their head dyer. He certainly seems to have been Manager, Dyeing 1895-1915. On his retirement WH Watson records that Bamford had served Lister & Co. for 20 years.

Robinson Bracewell 1846-1927

Robinson Bracewell was born in Trawden in 1846 and was for over 40 years the manager in the plush department of Manningham Mills. We believe that he started working for Lister at Burlington Shed, Keighley some in the 1860s years earlier. His practical knowledge of looms quickly brought him to the notice of Reixach. Along with Reixach he took a lead in helping in the construction of the first double shuttle velvet looms in the world. He was appointed manager of the velvet weaving department at the Beamsley shed, and following the the building of the Heaton shed he was appointed manager of both. After he came came with his family to Bradford; his addresses were:

1861 George Street, Shipley

1870 86 Dale Street, Shipley

1871 Town Street, Heaton (now Highgate) and was an overlooker at Lister & Co.

1881 7 Heaton Syke and was a weaving overlooker. The children are: Sarah Ann 9, Eva 6, Selenah 3 & Martha 1.

1891 31 Bishop Street and was aged 45 and a silk foreman overlooker.

1901 103 Wilmer Road, aged 54 and was a velvet foreman overlooker.

1911 Robinson is 65, Susan 67 and Fred (who was born in c.1883) was 27. Martha 31 is still at home as is ‘Sarahan’ Andrews (39) their widowed daughter and a 15 year old grandson Brook Robinson Andrews (office boy).

Bracewell keenly followed the Airedale Beagles from being a young man and was one of the oldest members of the Shipley Bowling Club. Robinson Bracewell retired in 1908 after about 60 years service when there were about 900 of his looms working. He was succeeded as Velvet Weaving Manager by Mark Mountain, and then by Fred Bracewell his son. He died on the 23 February 1927 aged 81 years still living at Wilmer Road. At the funeral, the service was conducted by the Rev. R. Haworth. His obituary was published in the Bradford Telegraph & Argus 25 February 1927.

Chief Mourners were:-

Mr. and Mrs. F. Bracewell and Mrs. Robson, Mr. and Mrs. Dyson, Mr. and Mrs. Andrews, Mr. T. Dyson and Miss Robson, Misses. Dyson, Mr. R. and Mrs. J. Bracewell, Mrs. Roberts and Mrs. Harker, Mr. and Mrs. Kitching, Mr. and Mrs. Whittaker, Mr. and Mrs. Ineson, Mr. and Mrs. Ridsdale. Mr. and Mrs. Willie Bracewell, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Bracewell, Mr. J. and Mr. H. Newall, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Mr. Greenwood, Mr. and Mrs Arthur Robson and Mr. and Mrs. Bower.

The following work-people represented the velvet weaving department:-

Messrs, R. Woodward, J. Helliwell, J. Hall, H. Andrews, G. Stewart, H. Dyson, T. Thompson, J. Stead, F. Brook, F. Newall, T. Crabtree, N. Birns, R. Atkinson, A. Rhodes, A. Rushton, F. Bateson, Mrs. Craven, Mrs. Unwin, Mrs. Suthers, Mrs. Hodgson, Miss. M. A. Wilkinson, Mrs. E. Mollermott?, Miss. M. Pickles, Mrs. A. Jeffries, Mrs. Wheelhouse, Mrs. Naylor, Mrs. Smart and Miss. E. A. Wade.

Others present included:-

Mr. E. Aiery of Edward Airey & Sons. Mr. J. Lee, Mr. J. Knowles of J. W. Knowles, Mr. S. P. Watson and Mr. W. J. Bell.

Fred Bracewell

Son of Robinson Bracewell. He died young at the age of 47 in 1931, but still managed to amass 32 years service. He began in the Velvet Weaving Dept. aged 15 and by the age of 24 he was in charge of the Beamsley Shed. By 1929 Fred was in charge of both velvet weaving sheds as his father had been.

Wilson Broadley

The manager of the Spinning & Twisting Department between 1917-1936.

Alfred Carpmael (1835-93)

Alfred Carpmael was a partner in Wilson Bristows & Carpmael, 1 Capthall Buildings, London EC. and was Lister’s patent attorney. He was a solicitor (1857) and with his brother Edward published Patent Laws of the World’. His firm acted for Lister’s for 60 years and Lister described Carpmael himself as ‘clever and respected’ and ‘astute and ingenious’. A solicitor called Carpmael represented Lister in the 1850s when there was much litigation concerning the wool-combing patents. We assume that this was Alfred’s father.

Benjamin T Gibbins

Benjamin Gibbins was in charge of the Velvet & Dyeing Departments. He was a director and, in the prospectus, assistant-manager. Initially he lived at 9 Lindum Terrace and later ‘The Pines’, Ilkley. He is noted once to have been travelling to the USA to obtain new customers. We believe he had a son William who was at school with WH Watson.

William Hardcastle

Died August 1925 aged 70 years. For 45 years he was foreman of the mechanics shop at the mill.

Alfred John Holiday

Alfred Holiday was born in London in 1840 and apparently as a child moved in literary circles. His wife was born Elizabeth Aitchison. Alfred was a well known evangelical Christian, of the persuasion known as the Plymouth Brethren. He lived in London and Birmingham. By 1881 Alfred Holiday and his family had moved to 16 Whetley Grove, Manningham and he was chief cashier of Lister & Co. You sometimes get a hint that Holiday is not the most valuable member of staff. In 1891 Reixach is happy for him to be sent to Ackton Hall colliery, Featherstone as manager. Holiday’s worst moment must have come in 1893 when, during a miners’ strike, two men were shot dead at Ackton Hall by troops protecting the Lister colliery which he managed. Speaking in parliament William Byles MP, Liberal owner of the Bradford Observer, described Lister during this dispute as ‘seeking to subdue the men with the weapon of starvation’. In 1896 Holiday subscribed to Cudworth’s History of Manningham, Heaton & Allerton giving Featherstone Hall as his address. It doesn’t look as if Lister was completely happy with his performance at Ackton Hall either, but Holiday stayed with Lister & Co as the agent until his death early in 1905. Watson on several occasions discusses the remission of loan repayments to Mr Holiday on behalf of Lister. Perhaps he continued to act as Lister’s personal financial agent.

David Murgatroyd

For 51 years he was in the Raw Material department where he followed Grimshaw Greenwood. He retired in August 1925 and died the following year.

Thomas Paul Latham (1855-1931)

TP Latham was an agent and salesman for Lister’s and other firms including Watson’s of Rochdale. Later he was recruited by Henry Greenwood Tetley for Courtaulds Ltd. in 1894 as sales manager, and was made a director in 1898. He died a wealthy baronet and was ‘calm, charming and reserved’.

John Lee

John Lee was the son of Joseph Lee, a Heaton schoolmaster, and was Secretary of the Lister’s limited company from its inception in 1889 until his death in 1931. He lived at West Bank, Heaton we believe, and then at 9 Heaton Grove with his wife Mary Jane and his daughters Mabel & Helen. He was a board of directors member after 1919, and member of the Heaton Local Board. He published his Reminiscences of an Old Heatonian (describing Heaton village life in the 1850s) in the Heaton Review.

William Taylor Marshall

William Taylor Marshall followed his one time ‘boss’ Mark Mountain as manager of Velvet Weaving. In the 1940s he lived at 108 Jesmond Avenue, Heaton with his wife and daughter Frieda.

Mark Mountain

Mark Mountain of Manningham, was the Velvet Weaving manager for many years.

George Edward Mumford

This man was a partner in the company solicitors. Mumford & Johnson (5 Bank Street, Bradford) were a well-known Victorian firm. George Mumford’s private address was 7 Mount Royd, off Manningham Lane. The house, a large beautifully ornate Victorian ‘semi’, survives. He was next door neighbour to Benjamin Nussey. There may have been another Mr Mumford connected with the firm. A man of this name helped on the night of the Lilycroft fire and they would hardly have summoned a solicitor.

Frank Johnson

The other partner in Mumford & Johnson (5 Bank Street). He lived at 13 Park Drive, Heaton.

Benjamin Nussey

Mr Nussey was the manager, silk spinning, who lived at 8 Mount Royd. He retired in 1886 because of illness and was replaced by William Watson jnr. Mr Nussey had famously ‘discovered’ Jose Reixach on a visit to Spain. He seems to have been born in 1841-42 in Leeds. He was married to Annie and in 1881 had four children. He lived in Ilkley after his retirement and may have died as late as 1924.

William Shann

In 1885 he was a doffer, then overlooker. He was assistant manager to Wilson Broadley. Spinning manager until he retired in March 1936. He died aged 78 in February 1950.

William Stirk

This man succeeded George Pepper as Chief Engineer at Manningham Mills. He retired in 1927 after 50 years service. He began work at Addingham and was close to both William Watsons, snr. & jnr., who thought very highly of him.

Francis Stubbs (1845-?)

Francis Stubbs was Lister & Co.’s foreman dyer. He was born in Staffordshire in 1845 and was married to Elizabeth Stubbs in 1867 at Birtle, Lancs. He joined Lister & Co. from Watson’s of Rochdale in 1878; he received the large salary of £500 per annum, plus bonuses. On April 15 1890 Stubbs was arrested for conspiracy to defraud Lister & Co., and after conviction was imprisoned for 9 months. He dealt with a dry-salter in Leeds called Henry Varley who sold drugs, chemicals, glues and dyes. Lister’s were overcharged for goods, and then Varley & Stubbs split the profits to the extent of thousands of pounds. Reports of the case in the Leeds Mercury portray Stubbs, aged 44, as a highly talented foreman dyer and uniquely able to dye plushes. A Mr Bamford was Lister & Co.’s head dyer but We are not sure what exactly the relationship was between him and Stubbs. Mrs Elizabeth Stubbs was living on her own at 1 Devonshire Terrace in 1891 (assessed 1900) but we cannot find her in the 1901 census. On 9 February 1892 a letter appeared in the Bradford Observer to the effect that Francis Stubbs was the dyer, and later superintendent, of the Wahnetah Silk Company, Catasauqua, Pa. In the circumstances emigration to the USA, where his skills would be in demand, was probably a wise course of action. Neither he or his wife appear again in UK records as far as we can tell. They probably feature in the 1900 US census in Schuykill, Pa. but after that, silence.

Henry Greenwood Tetley (1851-1921)

Henry Tetley was the son of Samuel Tetley (stuff merchant) and husband of Gertrude Tetley. In 1870 he lived at Hallcroft Hall, Addingham and is listed in White’s directory as manufacturer (Leeds). He was with Listers 1871-93 and was head of fancy silk weaving, and then a director. In 1893 he left to become the managing director of Courtauld’s. He was unpopular and had a furious temper, but was highly energetic. He was given the responsibility of re-equipping Courtauld’s with northern power looms and was instrumental in Courtauld’s adoption of the semi-synthetic cellulose fibre known as Viscose Rayon. This proved highly successful. He died a millionaire but had few interests other than business.

Rhodes Townend

This man died aged 70 in May 1925 after 54 years service. He was originally assistant spinning manager, Manningham. In 1910 he moved to Glasgow as manager of Lister’s depot there.

AJ Burkill (Shanghai)

This company does not feature in Reixach’s letters but is prominent in those of Watson. He appears to be the most important supplier of Tussah and waste silk to Lister & Co. The first letter to AJ Burkill is dated November 1886. Dozens of letters follow but many are simply addressed to ‘Burkill’. So there are really two questions who exactly was the AR Burkill who founded the company, and who is the ‘Burkill’ of the many subsequent letters? The founder, AR Burkill himself, was evidently alive as late as the 1890s and an AR Burkill was also listed as a Silk Club member. Would this be a company or a personal membership? At present this is what we think we know from the letters, censuses and the roll of Wakefield Grammar School. An Albert R (b 1841), John A, & (Charles) Edward Burkill were all pupils at Wakefield Grammar School in the 1850s. They were the children of John Burkill (b.1808), variously described as gentleman or commission agent, and Emma Burkill (b.1820) of Sandal, Wakefield.

Compared to 1851 John A Burkill (b.1845) and Frederick (b. 1846) are missing and the Edward and Ada of 1851 are now Charles and Emeline. But daughters Caroline & Florence fit. We are quite sure it is the same family. Albert R is evidently a military officer, and Charles E is a trainee sailor; both then have the potential opportunities to travel to the Far East, but we must stress than only Albert is known for certain to have done so. By 1914 letters are being addressed to ‘Bertie’, so we guess Albert is the man. We can’t find Albert in the 1891 census but a Charles Burkill, gentleman, is living in Liverpool in 1895 as attested by a trade directory. In 1881 their brother William J Burkill (born Colchester) is a 33 year old book-keeper living as a lodger in Chorlton on Medlock, Manchester, and he is still there in an unchanged condition in 1891; we really think we can leave him out of contention as Watson’s silk-supplying friend. We have also identified two Burkill grand-children (Albert & Charles), born in Shanghai in the 1870s and in 1881 these Burkill children are living with their grandmother Emma in Bootle near Liverpool. Their aunt, Florence A P Burkill (29) born Yorkshire, is also living there and the reason for this may become obvious since in 1901 (when Florence AP Burkill was aged 50), is a patient in Moss Side Hospital, Maghull, Liverpool which was used for ‘quiet lunatics’. To make all the dates work it would appear that the ‘Burkill’ of the letters must be AR Burkill himself, or just possibly his brother Charles (but surely not William). Alfred must surely be the father of the Shanghai born children although his wife is not mentioned in the letters; it is hard to identify people who are moving from China to the UK and back!

Charles Cromie (Shanghai)

A great many of Watson’s letters are written to his friend and business contact ‘Cromie’. The identity of Cromie was a constant difficulty during the transcription of the letters in volume BIM 880/4. At least here, and for the first time, his first name initial is given as ‘C’. This makes it more certain that Cromie was in fact Charles Cromie, a British merchant from Shanghai who eventually died on board ship and was buried in Nagasaki. The South China Herald, 8 May 1896 published the following:

VERY great regret was felt in the Settlement on Monday morning when it was known that a telegram had been received announcing the sudden death from heart disease on board the Yokohama, on which he had just gone from this city to Nagasaki, of an old and very popular Charles Cromie who came to Shanghai about thirty years ago as a silkman in the firm of Charles Gutschow and has been in the silk business ever since.

We still have no birth date for him. There are also letters from Watson addressed to AR Burkill at Shanghai and these often mention Cromie. Other letters in 880/9 strongly suggest that Cromie and Burkill were partners, and that the arrangement was for one to be in Britain or on the Continent, whilst the other remained in Shanghai.

James Ledingham

Ledingham was an architect (1840-1926) initially with Andrews & Pepper and then independently. He designed houses on the Rosse Estate, the Childrens’ Hospital and the Yorkshire Penny Bank and lived in Heaton. In the BIM collection there is a photograph of Ledingham & William Watson together.

Manningham Mills Workers

Given the sources of information that we have it is inevitable that we know far more about the Managers and Directors of Manningham Mills than we do about its workforce. If Lister, Reixach and Watson mention their workers at all it is usually as a group (eg ‘the hands will do this’, or ‘the spinners will feel that.’) rather than as individuals. We have included here such small amounts of information as we have been able to establish

Elizabeth Craig

Elizabeth, or more probably her husband, once worked at Manningham Mills. Since 1889 she had been on a pension of 5/- per week from the works. In the 1891 census she lived at 168 Heaton Road and is recorded as a widow, 41, born in Colsterdale, North Yorks. She gave no occupation herself, but has two silk-spinning daughters, Hester (17) and Ann (15) one of whom, we believe, had consumption and was shortly to die. She was a member of the Plymouth Brethren, a conservative, Protestant, non-conformist group. Elizabeth had three other young children and a silk-spinning niece called Sarah Teasdale living at her home. Sarah was also from Colsterdale. Colsterdale was close to Lister’s estate at Swinton. Is this co-incidence or did Lord Masham encourage local country-people to work in his Mill? It is hard to imagine him recruiting personally. Mrs Craig’s children worked ‘black’ during the great Manningham Mills strike (1890-91), but their ultimate boss, Watson, did not think they were subsequently persecuted by their fellow-workers because of this. But they were not considered very good workers and on that account the overlookers perhaps were a little harsh. Watson considered that ‘the woman can do with help, she is one of that sort!’; we imagine that a well-wisher, possibly a manager called AJ Holiday (another Plymouth Brother), had written to Lord Masham about Elizabeth Craig’s ill daughter and he had sent money via Watson. By the time the money arrived the daughter had died. Did Elizabeth Craig’s husband die in an accident at Manningham Mills? It seems to have been quite unusual for the company to pay pensions at this period.

Elizabeth Hardisty

Elizabeth Hardisty lived at 20 Patent Street. She appears in the Tillett petition of 1891 (West Yorkshire Archive Service 56D80/11/2) where she is described as a 53 year old widow, non-signatory, and a ‘picker’. The 1891 census confirms her address and shows that a single daughter, Mary E Hardisty, lives with her in Patent Street. Mary was one of Reixach’s silk plush weavers at Manningham Mills. All this fits a description Watson gave of her to Lord Masham, but we can’t find either mother or daughter in the 1881 census; perhaps Elizabeth was then known by her maiden name. We gather that her husband, name unknown, had died in an accident at the Mill 10 or 11 years earlier. This is the description Watson gives of Elizabeth: ‘It is quite true that her husband was killed here. She was then promised work in No. 3 warehouse and had it until the strike. At that time she was one of the chief leaders in causing the silk openers to go out. After a time a few returned to work and more promised but she intercepted them in Patent Street and prevented them from doing so.she has one daughter and no other means of livelihood but we understand that she has also a daughter that was a weaver..’

John & Susannah Wood

In 1871 this family were living in south Bradford:

John Wood Head 30 Joiner

Susannah Wood Wife 29 Weaver

Annie Eliza Wood d 10 Housekeeper

Martha Esther Wood d 7

John William Wood s 3

Mary Eliz Wood d 10/12

We assume housekeeper means that the child was left at home looking after her younger siblings while her parents worked. Annie may have had very limited schooling and was known to be illiterate when her daughter was born. By 1881 the whole family are living in a Manningham Mills house at 166, Beamsley Street. As a joiner John Wood may well have worked at the Mill. The family’s eldest girl, Annie Eliza Wood (20), is now missing from the parental home and a new arrival (Sarah E Wood – 8) is present. It doesn’t look as if Annie Eliza has married since her maiden name was later used on her daughter’s birth certificate; the family probably needed the extra space and moved her out into lodgings. We couldn’t find an Annie Eliza or an Annie E Wood in Britain that fits the known details but an Annie Wood (19, Worsted Factory hand) is lodging at 3 Anderson Street, Manningham (with James Lancaster – journeyman tailor & wife) which is probably her. We assume that 3 years later, at the age of 24 Annie Eliza returned to, or as close as possible to, her parents’ home to have her illegitimate baby. In the early 1890s 35, Chassum Street is inhabited by a Fred Peers, silk warehouseman (Tillett Petition), but between 1891 and 1901 Annie’s parents lived two doors down at 39 Chassum Street. As late as 1901 little Susannah A Wood, Annie’s baby, is living with her grand-parents at 39 Chassum Street. By this time all her uncles and aunts have moved away and she is a 16 year old silk spinner, working at Manningham Mills in her own right. The question is why did she never live with her birth mother? There are really only two possible answers. Her mother might, in a dangerous age, have died after childbirth or, just possibly, she eventually married a man who would not countenance a step-daughter.

Walter Henry Stancomb 1854-1914

This man was easy to trace because of his unusual (for West Yorkshire) surname. He was born in Clifton, Bristol. By the time of the 1881 census he is a silk spinner’s clerk (21), and is a boarder at 10, Whetley Grove, Manningham. Alfred Holiday who became Chief cashier at Manningham Mills then lived at 18 Whetley Grove. His address at the time of the Stubbs trial in 1890 was 24 Whetley Hill (Bradford Observer). In 1891 Walter Stancomb is still single and boarding at 24 Whetley Hill with Martha Milnes (38) and her son. He gives his birth place as Bristol, Gloucs, his occupation as ‘cashier commercial’, and his age as 30. In 1894 he married his wife Florence. Since he came from Bristol and his wife was born in Reading it is perhaps surprising that they married in Pontefract. In 1896 he subscribed to William Cudworth’s Round About Heaton, Allerton & Manningham. By the time of the 1901 census he and his wife have two children, Winifred (5) and Bryan (4). The whole family are living at 28 Farcliffe Road. Oddly they have a governess (Flora Weydall, 24) and a general servant (Norah Gabrielson, 20) who were both Norwegian subjects. The final traces of him are at this same address. In 1905 ‘Stancomb’ is mentioned in Watson’s letters helping Alfred Holiday negotiate a loan. He is also included at this address in the 1906 trade directory. Walter Stancomb died in the first quarter of 1914.

‘Old Martha’ (Martha Bradley, 1833-1906)

‘Old Martha’ is mentioned on several occasions in Watson’s letters, but without a surname. The only possible woman with this first name in the Tillett petition (1890s) is:

Martha Bradley, aged 59 16, Patent Street Office Cleaner: born 1833 in Addingham

It seemed likely that this woman would be the ‘Martha’ of the letters since Lister had many family contacts with Addingham, and job as an office cleaner might well enable closer contact with the directors than was usual with a weaver or spinner. The situation is made unmistakably clear by her obituary published in the Yorkshire Daily Observer of 27 February 1906 under the title of ‘death of an interesting woman’. It transpired that Martha had come with her father from Addingham to work for the Lister family. She claimed to have notched up 62 years of service which could put her as a child in Manningham as early as 1844, that is within only a few years of the building of the old Lilycroft Mill. She initially worked in the combing shed and later supervised the cleaning of the offices. The press report states that 30 years earlier, that would be within a year or two of the new mill being opened, Lister had been in poor health. ‘Old Martha’ was reported to have had the job of preparing his luncheon. This intimacy may have explained the gold sovereign she received every Christmas but it is clear that she was well known to, and well liked by, all the mill employees. Her job of office cleaner continued until a week before her death; she had been offered a pension but preferred to keep working. Lister’s son, the second Lord Masham, learns of her death from Watson; this occurred at home and not much more than 3 weeks after that of the master she served so long. There is no doubt that the Bradleys were a ‘Lister & Co. family’. Her father worked at Manningham Mills and in the 1881 census Martha lives with a daughter Emma 26, Velvet Weaver, and a brother John Bradley 47, silk washer. With these trades they would have been Lister & Co. employees. By the 1891 census Emma has gone and Martha is living with her brother who is an invalid and blind, another reason for Watson to be generous to her. As far as Martha and Lister were concerned ‘in death they were not divided’ both being buried in Addingham church in 1906. This is a digest of comments about her in the BIM letters:

24 December 1901

Last year you instructed me to give Old Martha a sovereign and when we gave her my Xmas box we thought she looked disappointed, so we have taken the liberty of giving her a sovereign from your Lordship and wished her on your behalf a Merry Xmas and Happy New Year feeling quite sure that you will approve of my action.

3 July 1902

We had the pleasure of giving Martha your £5. She made rather a pretty speech which it is not necessary to repeat but we may state she was very grateful & wept. We told her we was quite sure that you did not intend her to weep but more likely to go on the Spree “eh! Mr Watson Lord Masham knows better. We never touched[?] his whisky in my life and when he did leave[?], sometimes, some in his glass[?] we always just put it down the sink[?] because nobody should ever say that we gave his whiskey away!”

8 March 1904 (?mistake for 28 March)

we have been ‘wigging’ Old Martha for talking to Reporters, poor old woman she can’t help it, but there does seem to be competition for news.

22 December 1905

William Stirk we have included, he is a good and loyal servant..and we thought you would like to give him one [a commemorative medal], although he has only worked 28 years. Unless we hear from you to the contrary we shall give ‘Old Martha’ her usual sovereign from your Lordship in the morning, of course we [could] always give on the condition that if you object it has to be returned!

Aquila Allerton 1856-1915

Aquila Allerton, was born in 1856 in Staningley, the son of Edwin & Sarah Allerton. He was married to Elizabeth in 1876 at the Bradford Parish Church. By 1881 he was a velvet finisher living at 150 Beamsley St. There was no other silk & velvet manufacturer in Manningham so We are sure he was an employee of Lister & Co. He was shown in the 1891 census living at 16 Oak Bank, Windhill still employed at a velvet fabricator. Aquila & Margaret were to have a large family; living with them at the time were Clara 15 – silk spinner, Albert 12, Harry 10, Emily 7, Ben 5 and Annie 2. There was an older daughter (Margaret b.1876) and a son, Joseph, was yet to be born (1895).

Aquila’s name does not feature in the Tillett Petition (1892) but his descendants have managed to get some more information about Aquila. By 1901 he had moved to Stockport . They believe he came to Stockport ‘to learn how to use an new type of machine used in the velvet factories’ with a view to going back and training people in Manningham, but later he is employed as a hair dresser. In the context of silk and plush Stockport suggests Drey, Simpson & Co. Ltd. of Hanover Mill, South Reddish, Stockport. This company was a very serious rival to Lister & Co. in the period 1991-03 and are mentioned on several occasions in the letters that we studied. On one occasion Lister & Co. were proposing to reduce the prices of goods as a result of their competition. There was a great deal of secrecy over weaving and finishing processes. We doubt if, in the period mentioned, a man from Lister & Co. would have been welcomed to learn the way a machine worked. and then return to Manningham to teach others. On the other hand could Lister & Co. have sent him secretly to get a job and learn some new techniques surreptitiously? Possibly (we have no real evidence) he preferred his new employer and decided to stay. Aquila did eventually return to Manningham. He is not in the 1898 or 1906 directories, but in 1905 he is a hair-dresser at 43 Sandy Lane, Heaton. He had married, in 1901, for a second time a lady called Agnes Bousfield who was an actress from Halifax (although no death certificate has been found for his first wife). By 1911 he lived at 23 Westbourne Road, Bradford; he died in 1915.

Mary Kitching c1849 – 1939 (the surname is often rendered as Kitchen)

Alfred, 23, and John Kitching, 20, were the stone mason sons of Hester or Esther Kitching. In the 1871 census they lived with their 52 year old mother at 2 Stocks Green, Wellesley Terrace, Manningham. In fact they had lived there at least since 1851 when Esther Kitching was a power-loom worsted weaver. Esther was probably unmarried and we cannot find birth records for John. Around 1875 John Kitching (1850-1885) married Mary (1852-1939) from Scalby, near Scarborough, although we could not find a marriage certificate either. John & Mary had five sons in the end, but John died in 1885 possibly due to lung disease produced by his trade. Here the family is in the 1881 census:

40, Lindum Terrace (Alfred, stone mason, & Mary Kitching live next door)

John Kitching Head M 30 Stone mason

Mary Wife M 29

Sam R Son S 6

Robinson Consitt Son S 4

Stephen C Son S 3

Sherman E Son S 1

Mary and his children remained at the same address. If Mary was a silk plush weaver she must have been working at Lister & Co. during the great strike. It cannot have been easy to bring up children on a weaver’s wage; during the strike it must have been unimaginably difficult. The 1891 census was taken during the dispute:

40, Lindum Terrace (Alfred & Mary Kitching live next door)

Mary Kitching Head W 35 Silk plush weaver b. Scarborough

Robinson C Son S 14 Errand boy b. Bradford

Harry Son S 9 Scholar b. Bradford

It is said that her son Sherman ran away from home in the 1890s. Finally he joined the Army and died of a fever at Intombi Camp in 1900 during the Boer War. The remaining family who lived with Mary are recorded in the 1901 census:

40, Lindum Terrace (Alfred & Mary Kitching still live next door)

Mary Kitching Head W 47 Velvet weaver b. Scarborough

Robinson Son S 24 Plush mnf. Clerk b. Bradford

Steven Son S 23 Dyer

Harry Son S 19 Apprentice

Mary lived through the Great War and died at Robinson’s house on the eve of the Second World War.

John Denison Ramsden – Lister’s French textile interests

This investigation started with a gravestone in Heaton Baptist Cemetery which reads:

Albert Denison Ramsden d. 31.8.1908 b. Croix, France (Nord)

This interested us because Croix was a textile centre, in the Department of Nord. Samuel Cunliffe Lister & Isaac Holden had a wool combing mill there which survived into the 1930s. Albert, a mechanic fitter, eventually married a Jane Ibbitson in 1897; he had been born in 1865 and she in 1867. In the 1901 census the two were living in Victor Street without any children. In 1911 his widow (44) is living with her widowed sister Betsy Sutcliffe (53), still in Victor Street. As Betsy Ibbitson Jane’s sister had been a cook in Surrey in 1881. By 1891 the boot was on the other foot and Sarah Jane Ibbitson, yarn twister, was lodging with her now married sister Betsy, and brother in law John, in Keighley. Clearly Albert’s death in 1908 fits the information in these two census reports. Margaret Grey, the cemetery historian, has checked this death in the chapel burial books and there is an entry which reads: ‘grave B Z3/9 burial on the 3 September. Only person in the grave’ and a note says ‘re-interred by order of the Home Office.’

Albert Ramsden died in Bradford and his death is registered at Bradford in the month of September 1908. The purchase of a grave plot required some expense. It is strange that Albert was not buried with his parents. Why also was his wife not buried with him? Clearly someone had enough money to buy the plot and pay for the stone and inscription. A Home Office licence would be needed for any exhumation, so why would his body have been exhumed and then re-interred in the Heaton cemetery? We can only think of three possibilities: as part of a criminal investigation, because of an error in his original placement, or because of an original burial in a graveyard which later closed. At the moment we cannot find out any more about Albert and in any case it is Albert’s father who really interests me since it must have been his talents that got the family to France and into the textile business.

The father was John Denison Ramsden (b.1826). John Dennison (note double ‘n’) was baptised at the Parish Church in 1826, the son of Thomas and Betty Ramsden. Father Thomas was also a mechanic and this trade is starting to look like a family tradition. A couple named Thomas and Betty Ramsden live in Horton at the times of the 1841 & 1851 censuses but it is doubtful if this is the correct couple, and in any case there is no sign of John with them. John Denison Ramsden married Maria in 1848 at Bradford Parish Church. A Maria Craven was married in Bradford in the same quarter of 1848 who we imagine is John’s wife. John probably married a local girl. Despite a good deal of effort we cannot find the newly married couple in the 1851 census. Eventually John & Maria had several children that we know of:

Anne Maria Ramsden b. 1856 Bp. Manningham, St Paul’s Church

Albert D Ramsden b. 1863 Bp. British Chapel, Lille, France

The FamilySearch website also gives the year 1860 for the baptism of an Alfred Ramsden and 1861 for twins Clara and Thomas. All were baptised at the British Chapel, Lille and all had parents John Dennison and Maria. John Denison’s trade is given as ‘mechanic’ in the later baptismal record of his daughter, Anne Maria, and deducing that he was a mechanical woolcomb engineer is reasonable. We have searched for Maria in subsequent censuses since her name is subject to less variations of spelling than John Denison. There is a woman of this name in the censuses for Manningham but she seems to be the wife, and then the widow, of a Joseph Ramsden and unconnected with our family. Essentially then John Denison and Maria Ramsden disappear in the UK after their marriage, except for baptismal records applying to one of their children. Did they take up residence in France we wonder? It is quite possible that they did. In French genealogy sites but we can see that a Maria Ramsden and an Anne Maria Ramsden appears in the 1906 census for Nord, the Department containing Lille and Croix. A Clara RAMSDEN, possibly Maria’s daughter of that name, married there.

The Strike at Manningham Mills (1890-91)

How would the relationship between ‘masters and hands’ at Lister & Co. have appeared to a contemporary? You certainly get no hint of empathy for the workers in the business correspondence. We assume that Lister and Reixach both took the view that their own achievements had been gained by hard work, long hours and successful risk taking; consequently any of their mill-hands who wished to make significant progress must follow the same course. Although the greater Bradford community showed sympathy for the hardships suffered by the strikers and their families, we never saw much criticism of Lister’s fundamental position. The rival Essex firm of Samuel Courtauld & Co were paternalists who provided schools, cottages and even paid holidays for their workers. Despite this the directors of the company still seemed to have been hostile when trade unions appeared and wished to negotiate better pay and conditions on behalf of their members. Victorian industrialists seem prepared to be generous in the matter of charitable gifts but very reluctant in the matter of workers’ rights.

The Manningham Mills strike may be said to have begun on 9 December 1890 when Reixach posted notices explaining pay reductions for weavers and other trades-people working in the Plush Department, reductions that would take effect on Christmas Eve. The official explanation for this course of action was that the new McKinley import tariff in the US reduced Lister’s profits, and that in any case the weavers were paid higher wages than those at other mills. The degree to which these statements were true dominated the ensuing debate in the Press, and new light is shed on these claims by the Reixach letters. On the strikers’ side the militancy of the employees made the action difficult for the Strike Committee (led by WH Drew) to control. On several occasions Lister’s Directors, and any strike breakers, were violently abused. Other non-essential workers came out in sympathy with the weavers, but this action placed demands on the Committee’s strike fund that ultimately broke it. The winter was a hard one and the privations endured by the strikers families were terrible. After nineteen weeks the strike collapsed but not before Bradford had witnessed: mass meetings, troops on the streets, threats of widespread eviction, and starvation.

Some of the questions raised by the Manningham Mills Strike are still pertinent today. The salaries of managers and the dividends of the shareholders seem to have been Reixach’s and Lister’s main consideration, not the wages and conditions of employment of the weavers. The labour force was largely non-unionised and the effects of the strike were, to some extent, nullified by Lister & Co.’s capacity to move work to their mill at Addingham (or the new mill they purchased in Nuneaton) without hindrance. Today, of course, they would have sent work to a Third World country. The fact that the strike continued as long as it did resulted from the donations collected from ordinary working people in Bradford and the surrounding areas. The Yorkshire Miners were particularly generous in this respect. But ultimately Lister had more ‘brass’, as the Strike Committee said, and (as the largest shareholder) was prepared to spend it, to the tune of £1000 per month, to ensure that his ‘hands’ were defeated.

William Henry ‘Harry’ Drew

Harry Drew (1854-1933) had been born in Exeter but moved to the Bradford area in 1871. He was self-educated and at this time lived and worked in Shipley (Airedale Mills). He became a weaver in 1886 and was an active organiser for the West Riding Power Looms Weavers’ Association (later the Textile Workers Association). With Allen Gee and Ben Turner he provided leadership for the Manningham Mills strikers. After the strike he was active in the formation of the Bradford Labour Union which evolved into the independent Labour Party, of which he was an early vice-Chairman to Keir Hardie. His success as a union organiser is exemplified by the refusal of Lister to accept him as part of any future deputation. As the correspondence continues the strike is portrayed as an increasingly personal struggle between Lister & Co. and Drew. He and his wife are believed to have had 13 children; at present the only child we know by name is Sarah Ann Drew. In 1907 Drew and a whole or part of his family emigrated to Canada to farm. His was given a reception and a substantial cheque (£200) by his supporters in Bradford. His reason for this sudden change is not known but clearly involved a family problem. In his speech of thanks Drew referred to his neglect of family responsibilities. In fact he returned to Bradford within a few years and worked in the Leeds & Bradford Labour Exchanges. He took no part in politics or unions affairs in the last 18 years of his life. On his death in 1933 William Ogden, a reporter who had known him, remarked that it was amazing that this thin, weak, man with a chronic cough would live to be 80. He also confirms that at the Manningham Mills mass meetings Drew advised the workforce not to strike since there was no union organisation or strike fund. In his latter years Harry Drew lived at Russell Street, Bingley. [see Yorkshire Daily Observer 3 July 1907 & Yorkshire Observer 30 January 1933]

The Manningham Mills Strike Committee

A photograph of the Manningham Mills workers strike committee exists and has been fairly widely reproduced. Evidently the committee is dressed in its ‘Sunday best’. Ben Turner & W.H. Drew are always identified and, as union organisers rather than workers, we have asterisked them in the list below. We are interested to identify the ‘ordinary workers’ who formed part of this committee. The copy of the picture displayed in the BIM is the only piece of evidence we have so far for the names of any of these individuals. The Museum image has no provenance and is thought to be a photograph of a photograph. The list is incomplete and some of those portrayed are known by surnames only. It is possible that after the strike some strikers wished to preserve their anonymity, but when Ben Turner published an account of the strike 30 years later he admitted he knew ‘all the faces’ but could not remember the names. No names were published in any press report we have seen.

Top Row [actually 5 people in this row, not 4]


Dick Priestley

Sam Robertshaw

Sam Hudson

2nd Row [actually 11 people in this row, not 10]

*WH Drew





Mary Belton


John Waddington


*Ben Turner

3rd Row [actually 7 women in this row not 8]


Harriet Catteral


Kate Sunderland

Georgina Sunderland

Margaret A Gott

Mrs Pickles

Mrs Stevenson

Bottom Row [there are 4 people in this row as the list suggests]



Julia Ward


Of the 27 people in the photograph no less than 16 are women but it is uncertain if this numerical majority was translated into functional dominance during the strike. Lister & Co. was the only silk mill in Bradford. Effectively silk, velvet or plush workers must have worked at Manningham Mills.

Mary Belton

We assume this is Mary Whitfield Belton who was born in Langtoft, Lincolnshire in 1855. In the 1891 census Mary W Belton (35, b. Langtoft, Lincs) is living at 9 Morningside, Manningham with her parents George (59, Stone mason) & Elizabeth (56). She is the sister of Thomas (22, wool warehouseman), Sarah (20), and Olive (24). The whole family came from Lincolnshire and moved to Bradford together in the period 1871-1881. Interestingly in 1891 neither Mary nor her sisters had recorded occupations. The census was taken in 31 March 1891, that is during the Manningham Mills strike. The fact that the family did contain Manningham Mills workers is confirmed by the 1881 census. At this date George & Elizabeth Belton, together with various children, are living at 37 Anvil Street. Mary is a silk winder, and Elizabeth (22), Alice (20) and George (16) are silk warp dressers. They must have worked at Lister & Co. By 1901 Mary is living with her widowed father in Heaton Road and seems to be a ‘cotton winder’. We cannot find her in the 1911 census but it is clear that Mary W Belton never married, lived through the Great War, and finally died in 1923 at the age of 68. She is buried in Heaton Baptist cemetery.

Margaret A. Gott

This name also sounds quite plausible. In 1881 Margaret Ann Gott (26, b.1854) was an unemployed silk weaver living at 18 Quarry Street with her parents William & Judith Gott (born Procter). Margaret and her siblings had been born in Heaton. In 1891 the family have moved to 14, Dyson St, Heaton. William (63) was a quarryman and Margaret (37) was a silk weaver. She had brothers George (32), painter & decorator and John (21), plush finisher; again several Lister & Co. occupations. The Gotts were a Heaton family and Margaret’s mother Judith died at 73 being was buried in Heaton Baptist cemetery in 1903. She is a widow still at 14 Dyson Street living with two sons in the 1901 census. What happened to Margaret? She seems to have married John Gudgeon the year after the strike (1892) and may have been among those strikers who never returned to the mill. Remarkably in 1901 Margaret Gudgeon was a farmer’s wife in North Yorkshire but she was back in Bradford in 1906 when, three years after her mother, she died aged 52. She is also buried in Heaton Baptist cemetery.

Kate Sunderland

We are reasonably confident about Kate Sunderland who in 1891 was a silk plush weaver, aged 31, living with her parents, Abraham (or Abram) & Grace Sunderland near the mill at 145, Beamsley Street. In 1881 she had been a 21 year old worsted weaver living at 23, Kitson Street, Eccleshill. Her father was born in Harden in 1823 and was a stone quarry worker. In the 1871 census her name is recorded as Kayre and with her and her parents are living Benjamin 22, Hannah and Ann 16. Abram Sunderland signed the Tillett Petition in 1892. A Benjamin Sunderland of the right age is a mechanic’s labourer living in Chassum Street. He is recorded as a non-signatory. No female Sunderlands are included.

Georgina Sunderland

We assumed this would be easy and that Georgina would prove to be a sister of Kate Sunderland. But Kate’s parents are known and they do not have a daughter of this name. nor can we find a woman of this name living in Bradford in 1891. A Georgina Sunderland married an Edward Farron at Bradford parish church in 1877, but we cannot find either of this couple in the 1881 or 1891 census. In Alverthorpe, Wakefield a mill hand called Georgina Ives marries a farmer called Sunderland, but there is no reason to suppose she ever lived locally. Extending the search to the UK produces no further hits but Sunderland is a known Heaton surname. If the identification of individuals in the photograph is correct, which is far from certain, Mary Belton has her arm on Georgina Sunderland’s shoulder. This is a surprisingly affectionate gesture for such a formal image.

Harriet Catteral

At the moment we can’t find a woman of this name or anything approximately like it living in Manningham or Heaton at the right time. We have searched for Catteral, Catheral, Cotteral and Cotterill.

Julia Ward

There are no signatories of this name in the Tillett Petition but in the 1891 census there is a 30 year old silk warp picker called Julia (Ann) Ward living as a boarder (with her siblings Alice and James) with a family called Morton at 45 Wilmer Road. She had been born in Manchester in 1860 and was the eldest child of Joseph and Ann Ward. A decade earlier she had been living with her mother and seven siblings in Wood Place, Heaton. From the children’s ages the family had removed to Heaton from Birkenhead 3-6 years earlier and her father, previously an iron worker, had recently died. He had been alive in 1880 when his youngest child James was baptised at St Barnabas, Heaton. Interestingly Julia’s paternal grandmother had been a silk winder in Salford. After the strike Julia was evidently re-employed by Lister & Co. In the 1901 census she and her brother James (21) and sister Agnes (23) are all living at 133, Carlisle Road, and all have silk/velvet occupations. We cannot trace them further at the present.

Mrs Pickles

This is a common surname; there is only one plausible candidate from the Tillett Petition:

Mary Pickles (wid.) 49 145 Chassum Street Silk plush weaver b. Kildwick

In the 1891 census Mary lives in Chassum St with her daughter Hetty (a silk spooler) who was 20 and had been born in Keighley. Mary had been married in Thomas Pickles, a silk warp dresser, who had died in 1886. Ten years later she is still living in the same house with her daughter, now married and named Henrietta Walker. Henrietta is a silk weaver and must still work at Lister & Co. Henrietta may have wanted her mother’s support in a pregnancy or her husband (another Thomas) may have gone away to seek work, since in 1911 he is the manager of a foundry far away in Halstead, Essex. Delightfully at the time of the census his mother in law Mary Pickles (now 70) is visiting them and her grandson Christopher (9).

Mrs Stevenson

There are no signatories of this name in the Tillett Petition. It is possible she was the wife of the apparently male ‘Stevenson’ on the list.

Dick Priestley

Two ‘Richard Priestleys’ were born in Manningham, in 1848 & 1875. In the 1891 census there is no Dick Priestley and the only Richard Priestley is a 33 year old widowed mason, lodging with a family called Gamble in Wilfred Street, East Bradford. This man does not sound a likely Manningham Mills worker. There are no signatories of this name in the Tillett Petition.

Samuel Robertshaw

Both the first name and surname are common in northern England. There are no signatories of this name in the Tillett Petition but in the 1891 a 30 year old man of this name is a silk plush overlooker living at 258 Girlington Road with his wife Sarah, and children Zilpah, Edward and Wilfred (b.1887). Zilpah Robertshaw married Robert Brown in Bradford in 1905, and by 1911 the remaining family is living in James St, Allerton. The silk connection means that this man is a Lister employee although he may not necessarily be the ‘correct’ Sam Robertshaw. In 1911 the same Samuel is still a weaving overlooker but since he has moved further away from Manningham he may well not now be with Lister & Co. A man of this name and year of birth died in Bradford in 1937.

Sam Hudson

Two men of this name are mentioned in the Tillett Petition, both living adjacent to the Mill. The fact that they both are said to have lived at a ‘number 93’ is a little suspicious; could we be looking at a single man recorded twice? At present we cannot find the Silk Street man.

Samuel Hudson 40 93 Chassum Street Stone hewer, Idle

Samuel Hudson ? 93 Silk Street No further information

Samuel Hudson in Chassum Street has a wife, Annie, who is a silk drawer in the 1891 census, so there is a definite Lister & Co. connection. The family are in the same house in 1901. There is a local family of this name. A William Hudson came from Manningham; this William had a son called Sam. The family had connections in Idle. William had a sister Rachel 1803-32 who married William Crabtree of Heaton who was a butcher and land owner, living at Highgate.

Stevenson (male if position in photograph is correct)

There are no likely signatories of this name in the Tillett Petition. Could be the husband of the Mrs Stevenson on the list but as we don’t know who she was we are not much further forward.

Cooper (male if position in photograph is correct)

In the Tillett Petition 1892 there are two possible Coopers but we cannot think how to distinguish between them. The picture (if the position is correct) is we think slightly more compatible with a prematurely bald 36 year old than a youthful looking man in his late 50s.

Ben Cooper 36 Lilycroft Road Silk plush finisher b. Ashford, Kent

Richard Cooper 57 Beamsley Road Cotton dyer, velvet worker b.Otley

Ben Cooper can be identified in the 1891 census with his children (William, Arthur and Harry) and wife Evangelina living at 72 Lilycroft Road. Ten years earlier Ben lived in Chassum Street and his wife was a silk winder; another Lister & Co. family then. In the Heaton Baptist cemetery records there is a Benjamin Cooper who died in 1900 aged 44, of 101 Chassum Street (parents William and Prudence Cooper). There is also a Charles Cooper who died 1910 aged 49 with the same parents, who was presumably his brother. The address seems to be correct; in the 1901 census Evangelina Cooper, now a widow, is living there with three sons and an adopted daughter. But when Benjamin Cooper married Evangelina Dean in 1856 his father (another Benjamin) was said to be deceased. Evangelina Cooper survived until the 1911 census, when her son Arthur was a clerk in a silk mill.

John Waddington

There are four signatories of this surname in the Tillett Petition who live near the Mill. None are named John. We can find 10 men of this name in an 1883 trade directory but none of a correct trade in a place local to the Mill.


There is no completely satisfactory history of Samuel Cunliffe Lister and Manningham Mills. If a reader of these notes wishes to learn more of the background to the strike we would recommend:

Derek Barker. The Manningham Mills Strike, 1890-91: ‘Low Wages, Good Water and No Unions’. Northern History 50,1, 2013, pp.93-114.

Keith Laybourn. The Manningham Mills Strike: its importance in Bradford History Bradford Antiquary XLVI, 1976, 7-35.

Cyril Pearce. The Manningham Mills Strike, Bradford: December 1890 – April 1891. University of Hull. 1975.

Lister’s nineteenth century activities in Addingham are touched on in:

Kate M Mason. Woolcombers, worsteds and watermills: Addingham’s Industrial Revolution. Addingham Civic Society, 1989.

Lister’s involvement in the development of the mechanical wool-comb is described in:

Derek Barker. Lost in Oblivion: James Noble and the Noble Comb. Textile History, 44 (2), 2013, 214–234.

Something of the flavour of Samuel Cunliffe Lister’s own personality can be obtained from:

SC Lister (Lord Masham). Lord Masham’s Inventions. Percy Lund, Humphries & Co., 1905.

Two valuable source of information are the Lister Company magazines which are held in the Bradford Local Studies Library and an archive of Lister & Company business letters which are curated by the BIM (T2002-880/1-9). When we refer to ‘Watson’s letters’ or ”Reixach’s letters’ we are always referencing this material.


It is a pleasure to thank the staff of the West Yorkshire Archives (Bradford) and the Bradford Local Studies Library. Without their expertise no local history project would progress very far. The Bradford Industrial Museum curates the business letters of Lister & Co. and we were grateful for permission to study them. Eugene Nicholson first drew our attention to the value of this source of information. We must also thank Mick Callaghan of Bradford Industrial Museum for finding the image of the Strike Committee. Margaret Gray commented on the list of committee members and kindly helped identify some of them. Anna, of the Walker Hornshaw Family Group, provided some of the information about Richard Hornshaw. Several other family historians, whose families included Manningham Mills employees, generously shared their knowledge with us.


12 thoughts on “Manningham Mill people

  1. The Charles Cromie you mention would seem to be the son of Cpt St George Cromie of County Mayo. He was born 1841. I can supply further details if you agree that this is the same person (I an researching his father).


  2. A wonderful read. As the descendant of Bradford coal miners and mill workers, I found this article quite fascinating. One question I have regards the Tillett petition. Were there any negative consequences for those Manningham Mills employees who signed the petition?


      1. I believe that my 3G grandfather had a couple of coal leases in the Bradford area in the mid 1800’s. One was probably near Great Horton, where he lived. There might have been something in Horsforth as well. Judging by contracts for coal delivery, I believe he was mining better bed coal, which was a horrible thing to mine.
        I love the evolution of skills the industrial evolution created. His son and his best friend began as blacksmiths, evolved to machine makers and ended up as engineers. These careers were, of course, closely linked to the better bed vein.Most family members left the mines in the later 1800’s and migrated to the mills of Manningham where once again the coal killed them with assorted respiratory ailments.
        Thank you again for your site. Great stuff..


      2. Thanks for your kind words Mary. The Better Bed coal seam isn’t represented in my part of north Bradford. Its importance lay in its low sulphur content, and consequently it formed the coking coal used for smelting iron in the blast furnaces at Low Moor & Bowling.


  3. Thank you very much for this information. Several of my family (including my father) worked at Manningham Mills over the generations. My great-grandfather John Dunn was a velvet plush finisher who lost his job as a consequence of his involvement in the strike. His nephew Richard Brock was also listed as a ‘labourer in a velvet mill’ on the 1881 census, so I suspect they worked together. I have quite a lot of information about John, which I would be happy to share, but would love to know if there are any records of either man related to their connection with the mill.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for a wonderful article! Mary Cunliffe (nee Thompson) was my 7th Great Aunt. I am just discovering my Thompson ancestry and found this a great read and very helpful for my research for my family tree.
    All the best,
    Bronwyn Joy Hansen
    (Gippsland, Victoria, Australia)


  5. I am researching my family history and have looked at all the census records for them. I seem to have got it into my head from somewhere that a “joiner” in the mill wasn’t necessarily a carpenter. A “joiner” could be a specific job when the thread broke or ended, to join another bobbin on. (Knitters will know what I mean!) I can’t think where I’ve got this idea from. Does anybody know if it’s right?


    1. ‘Joiner’ could easily be a local textile occupation Ruth, for the reasons you give. There certainly would be a need to join broken ends of thread. I think you could easily prove this. Carpenter-joiners would be adult men. Textile joiners would be women or even children. I guess 2 hours with the 1881 census reports for Manningham might sort out the query!


  6. many thanks indeed for this post. i have uncovered an 1898 connection between my grandmother and john cunliffe-lister. so really helpful background.


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