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By trade, Curtis was a wire-card manufacturer and a machine-maker. He was a partner in two businesses: Curtis, Parr & Walton, wire-card makers, and Parr, Curtis and Madeley, machine-makers. These firms were involved in the manufacture of equipment for spinning cotton, the former in the production of Dyer's Frame and the latter producing Smith & Orr's Self-Acting Mule.
1838 Advert: 'NOTICE.- CURTIS & PARR beg leave to inform their Friends and the Public, that they have entered into PARTNERSHIP with Mr. JAMES WALTON of Sowerby Bridge, who is the Inventor and Patentee of the PREPARATION OF INDIA RUBBER as a SUBSTITUTE FOR LEATHER, in the manufacture of Wire Cards. In forming this Connection, CURTIS AND PARR have to tender to their Friends and Customers, their best Acknowledgments for the extensive and liberal Support they have received since they succeeded to the Business of Messrs. J. C. DYER and Co., as PATENT WIRE CARD MANUFACTURERS, In Manchester; and they respectfully solicit the Continuance of the like Encouragement and Support to their New Firm;
Store-Street, Manchester, Aug. 24th, 1838.
CURTIS, PARR, & WALTON,
In succeeding CURTIS & PARR, as PATENT WIRE CARD MANUFACTURERS, beg to remind their Friends and the Public, that the great superiority of Wire Cards, made with the Patent India Rubber Material, over those made with Leather, affords the assurance that these Cards will be generally adopted, when, from experience in working, their Superior Qualities shall be fairly tested; they, therefore, respectfully solicit a trial of the same, and a Continuance of the liberal Support heretofore enjoyed by the late Firm, and which they will endeavour to merit, by strict attention to the Quality of their Cards, and to all Orders intrusted to them.
Store-Street, Manchester, August 24th, 1838.'
By the middle of the nineteenth century, Curtis's firms were the largest manufacturers of cotton-spinning machinery in Britain.
1842. Fire at the Works. 'On Tuesday night another large fire took place in the extensive building chiefly occupied as a machine manufactory belonging to Mr. J. C. Dyer, situate on the south side of Store-street, a very short distance from the viaduct of the Manchester and Birmingham Railway. The building is one of very large dimensions; it is seven stories high, and about forty yards by twenty-five in extent. The whole of the building, with the exception of the upper story and attic, is occupied by Messrs. Parr, Curtis, and Madeley, machine manufacturers; the upper story and attic are in the occupation of Messrs. Curtis, Parr, and Walton, patent card manufacturers. The part of the building was fire-proof, with the exception of a small portion at the north end next Store-street. . . . The whole of the machines employed by Messrs. Curtis, Parr, and Walton, with the exception of six or seven that were got out before the flames had caught them, were totally destroyed.