Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Simpson and Godlee

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April 1935.

of Manchester

  • Francis Godlee - 1854 to 1928 - was a remarkable person, highly successful and a man of many interests, pioneer cyclist, breeder of horses and enthusiastic yachtsman. He was well known as a shrewd and far sighted employer, generous with time and money for those less fortunate than himself, and with a great sense of public spirit, particularly for his adopted city. [1]
  • 1854 Francis Godlee was born in London, the son of a Quaker barrister who had chambers in Lincoln's Inn. The family of five boys and one girl used the 'thees and thous' of Quaker speech, and Francis, with this strict Puritan background, remained a staunch member of the Society of Friends throughout his life.
  • 1881 He went to Manchester as a young man, to join his relative William Simpson in business at Dean's Mill, Swinton, and the two Quaker partners (they were related through marriage) soon established a reputation for probity and good management.
  • The Manchester cotton trade was then thriving, and the firm of Simpson and Godlee, cotton manufacturers and calico printers, steadily expanded.
  • 1891 Directory: Listed as Cotton spinners and manufacturers of Swinton. More details. [2]
  • Its offices and warehouses moved to the centre of Manchester, and further mills were acquired at Bolton and at Bury.
  • 1900 By the turn of the century, there was a workforce of some 1500 people. The firm's prosperity owed much to Francis Godlee, not only to his good business sense, but also to the sympathetic consideration he showed for his employees.
  • 1914 Francis Godlee became chairman of the firm on the death of William Simpson, and continued to run the business through the difficult war years and after the war until a few years before he died.
  • 1924 He retired when he was able to hand over the business to his nephew Philip.
  • 1928 Francis Godlee died at the age of 74.
  • 1947 British Industries Fair Advert as Printers and Manufacturers of Furnishing and Dress Fabrics, Towels and Damasks. Textiles marketed under trade marks: Bevis, Gazelle, Rockfast, Judy. (Textiles Section - Earls Court, Stand No. 94) [3]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] The Manchester Astronomical Society
  2. 1891 Cotton Mills in Manchester and Salford
  3. 1947 British Industries Fair Advert 169