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British Industrial History

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The Basic Industries of Great Britain by Aberconway: Chapter IX: Part 2

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CHAPTER IX. PART II. LANCASHIRE TEXTILE MACHINERY

Platt Brothers and Co

The largest works producing textile machinery are those of Platt Brothers and Co, Oldham, with a capital of £3,710,000, and employing 11,000 men. The firm was founded in 1821 by Henry Platt, who commenced with five workmen in the top floor of a house in Oldham, just when the demand for improved textile machinery was great. The new firm set itself to meet this demand, and it rapidly achieved success. To-day, after a century of growth, Platt Bros. is by far the largest firm in the world devoted exclusively to the construction of machinery for spinning and weaving cotton, woollen, worsted and silk. The Platt family are still connected with the business, but the late Rt. Hon. Lord Emmott was Chairman until his death last year. The firm has also a Machine Tool Works, which is really a business in itself. It owns also Moston Colliery and two other collieries, at one of which fine foundry coke is produced.

Mather and Platt

The business of Mather and Platt, which, with a capital of £2,500,000, employs 4,000 men, was established at Salford early in the nineteenth century by the great-grand-father of the present Chairman. It was originally engaged in the manufacture of textile machinery only, and while this branch has been developed and increased, the firm has added to its activities Electrical, Hydraulic, and Fire Engineering departments. Abandoning its Salford works, the firm removed to Newton Heath, where the Park Works cover an area of 25 acres. It undertook the whole equipment, including locomotives, of the first electric "Tube," the City and South London Railway, and has had widespread relations with Russia.

The firm was a pioneer in schemes for employees' welfare. In this respect the late Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Mather, M.P., took a personal lead. There are a Day Continuation School at the works, Evening Classes, a well-equipped canteen, and a work-peoples' holiday and Staff Benefit Fund. In 1893 the firm introduced a forty-eight-hour week, which proved most successful. The output of work actually increased and the cost of production decreased. This was the first move of the kind among engineering firms in England, and it resulted eventually in forty-seven hours becoming the recognised working week.

Howard and Bullough

The firm of Howard and Bullough was founded in Accrington in 1835, with four employees. Its chief products are cotton preparing, spinning and doubling machinery, also winding, beaming and sizing machines. Favoured by continuity of family management, the business has prospered exceedingly, and now occupies one of the foremost places among textile machinists. The present Chairman is Sir George Bullough, Bart. The capital is £1,500,000, and 5,000 hands are employed.

John Hetherington and Sons

The firm of John Hetherington and Sons, of Manchester, with a capital of £1,450,000, and employing 3,000 men, was founded in 1830. It makes all kinds of textile machinery and railway tools, and has recently turned attention to machines for artificial silk, a rapidly increasing trade. This firm, established in 1804, owns Curtis, Sons and Co of Phoenix Works, Manchester, makers of textile machinery.

Dobson and Barlow

The firm of Dobson and Barlow, Bolton, was founded in 1790 by Isaac Dobson (as Dobson and Rothwell), and has a record of 136 years of progress in the manufacture of textile machinery. It is the oldest-established textile engineering business in the world. Its rise from a small beginning has been synonymous with the rise of the cotton-spinning industry. Formed into a private limited company in 1892, its first Chairman was the late Sir Benjamin Dobson. Author of many works on the cotton industry, among other distinctions he was Mayor of Bolton for four years. The business is now a public company, but the family connection is maintained on the directorate in the person of Lt.-Col. B. P. Dobson. The firm of Dobson and Barlow also owns the Bolton Engineering Co, where are made most of the special machine tools required for mass production of the multitude of small and intricate parts which go to the completion of modern textile machinery. The introduction of artificial silk has made the firm busier than ever, and it supplies complete plant and equipment for the manufacture of artificial silk by the Viscose Process.

Asa Lees and Co

Asa Lees and Co, Oldham, was registered in 1872 and owns the Soho Iron Works, where are made all kinds of machinery for preparing, combing, spinning and doubling cotton, wool, worsted, etc. The firm has connections in all countries, and has equipped mills in most parts of the civilised world. It employs 2,000 hands, with a capital of £360,000.

Petrie and McNaught

Petrie and McNaught of Rochdale is an amalgamation of two well-known firms — John Petrie, junior, and J. and W. McNaught, after a rivalry extending over sixty years. The former business was established in 1853 by John Petrie, junior, who patented and made the first automatic wool-washing machine in that year. Mr. Gerald Petrie, grandson of the founder, is a Director of the firm.

Between them the two firms have made most of the wool-washing and carbonising plants in use throughout the United Kingdom and abroad. Artificial silk-making machinery and salvage plants are among the firm's products.

Joseph Stubbs

The firm of Joseph Stubbs, Manchester, founded in 1870 by the late Joseph Stubbs, who commenced with six employees, now occupies a position of prominence in the textile machinery world. Formed into a limited company in 1910, its present Chairman is Mr. Joseph H. Stubbs, a son of the founder. The firm is notable for employing women in the foundry for the manufacture of small cores requiring skilful and careful treatment. The products include machines for winding, doubling, clearing, gassing, reeling, preparing, polishing and bundling cotton, woollen, worsted, linen, jute and hemp. Stubbs has also entered the field with artificial silk machinery. Its markets are world-wide.

There are seventy-six smaller firms engaged in the textile machinery trade, employing about 7,500 hands, with an aggregate capital of £3,047,150.

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