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Thomas Haley and Co of Hough End, Bramley, near Leeds.
Messrs Haley was the first English firm to specialise in the manufacture of machinery for the leather trade.
1861 Firm was established by Sam Haley, a millwright who had set up a small business at Hough End, Bramley, sharing space with the tanner William Haste. This first premises was a small wooden shed with a steam boiler. It had originally been a woollen mill, but in 1860 it was sold to the tanner William Haste, who turned part of the building into a tannery and let the remainder.
Sam Haley was joined by his father, and two younger brothers John and Sugden, and the firm was known as 'Thomas Haley and Co'.
"The business carried on at first was that of millwrights and general engineers. This work brought them occasionally into the tanneries of the district for, although at this time the processes in a tannery were largely carried out by hand, a few simple machines were beginning to be used mostly of American manufacture. One of the first machines that William Haste installed in his new tannery was an American built leather splitting machine with a fixed knife. Thomas Haley was invited by his neighbour to examine this, and formed the opinion that the machine could be improved considerably. He was consequently given every facility to carry out development work on the machine, and eventually made improvements of such significance that the decision was made to concentrate the efforts of the firm on the development and manufacture of machinery for the leather trade. This initial instance, of co-operation from friends in the tanning industry has been repeated on many occasions during the history of the firm and the development of many of our machines has been greatly facilitated by such help, freely given."
Haley discovered ways to improve the American "Union" splitting machine, originally invented by Alpha Richardson of Boston. He produced a separate knife grinding device to sharpen the blade used in the splitting machine.
1862 Their first machine - the "Improved American Union Splitting Machine" was placed on the market. It was the first machine of its kind to be manufactured in Europe.
"For knife sharpening, a separate grinding machine was produced. These were the first machines of their kind to be made in Europe and in due course, several hundreds were manufactured and went into service in many parts of the world."
Around the time of the 1860's Haley's range was including Stuffing Drums and Tumblers, followed by a Strap Cutter and Scouring machine that was the subject of a patent taken out by the tanner W. L. Jackson.
1871 Thomas Haley and Co was employing 10 men, 1 labourer and 3 boys.
1873 Patent granted for a boarding and graining machine for softening light leather. Seventeen of these machines were sold within the first year.
1874 A plot of land was acquired lying between Leeds, Bradford and Halifax Railway with plans to expand the business and create more working and machinery space.
1875 Thomas Haley died. The business was carried on by his three sons under the same name 'Thomas Haley and Co'.
1877 Work began on building the new premises. The annual turnover of the company had increased to £4200 by 1877.
"At the end of year 1878 a Butt arid Bend Roller, a Bark Press, a Dusting Machine, a Fluffing Wheel, a Boarding Machine and a Levanting or Finishing Machine had been added to the range. The two latter items were the subject of patents taken out with the tanner William Paul."
By 1878 the entire business was operated from the new factory named "Railway Foundry". "A two storey engineering shop and boiler house with tall chimney had been added close to the first building." There was also a small basement at the railway end of the building where grinding was done. A siding was installed from the Railway for delivering raw materials to the foundry end the despatch of machinery by rail. An artesian well was sunk and a dam constructed at the Bradford end of the site. Home produced bricks were again utilised in the new buildings and this probably explains the unusually thick walls of the original buildings." As well as bricks, the firm was also able to provide most of the ironwork. The plot of land purchased also included a brickworks on the far side of the railway line, which was operated as a subsidiary business for a number of years.
One of the first products to come of the new factory was the Fleshing Machine, patented by the firm's landlord William Haste of Hough End Tannery (by now Haste and Brown). Twelve of these machines had been made within a year.
1879 Sam Haley designed and built three identical houses which were built on the north-west area of the site as a small terrace. They were constructed from home-produced bricks, and all with big gardens extending down to the railway.
**Note: All three brothers married, and each wife was named Ann. Their only sister was also Ann. All wives outlived their husbands, the widow of Sam Haley dying in 1935 at the age of 93.
1880 By now Thomas Haley was exporting machinery all across the world. One of the largest export orders was shipped to a tannery in Sydney, Australia. The load consisted of a horizontal engine, Cornish boiler, all power transmission equipment etc.
1880 August 18th. A planning and equipping of a Tannery in Sydney, Australia was underway and on this date a consignment shipped. It consisted of a Cornish boiler, horizontal engine, all power transmission equipment and a number of machines, including the factory smoke stack of 1/4inch plate iron 33ft high. This was all installed and operating by December 22nd.
1882 Haley and Co began manufacturing the American designed band knife splitting machine. Probably the most complex machine around at the time, Haley manufactured 83 of them by 1891. They also introduced new products into their range, such as machines for glazing, softening, brushing and embossing. The American Band Knife Splitting Machine, capable of splitting both new hides and tanned leather was the first machine of its type to be built in Europe.
1883 An extension was added to the original shop. A three storey building was built to give the factory a frontage on the Leeds Bradford Road.
1888 A narrow bay was incorporated in the works area running the whole length of the existing buildings.
During the 1880s competition between Messrs. Haley and Joseph Hall and Co of Leeds heightened. Both firms were manufacturing a similar range of machines and equipment, but particular rivalry centered around the scouring machine. "Haley machinery carried the trade mark "Climax" and equipment manufactured at the Burley Engine Works of Joseph Hall and Co was marketed under the trade mark "Premier"
There were several court cases between Joseph Hall and Sam Haley during the 1880s over patents and trade names.
1888-1891 Further extensions were added to the Bramley factory, including a shaving machine which was added to the machinery range in 1898.
1891 The final section of the Railway Foundry was completed when the erection of a three storey building was secured and finished adjoining the single storey extension to the machine shop.
1898 Based on the American design, a Shaving Machine was introduced to the firm's range under the trade name "Climax". The first hydraulic presses and pumps had also been introduced together with a wide range of machinery and equipment for the strap and belting trade.
1901 The firm was registered as a Limited Liability Company.
1904 The youngest brother, Sugden Haley, died. By this time the first Sammying Machine had been introduced and equipment for the dyeing and colouring of leather available. The "Climax" Leather Dressing Machine was also supplied self powered either steam or gas powered.
1908 To compete with machinery imported from Germany and America at the start of the twentieth century, Messrs Haley improved their shaving machine and roller type embossing machine.
1909 "An interesting presentation took place at the works in August 1909,19 when Sam Haley's workers presented him with an illuminated address to commemorate the anniversary of his 70th birthday. The workers themselves were given a pleasant surprise, as they filed through the office for the presentation, each man was handed half a sovereign and each apprentice, five shillings; fifty-two men and dozen boys received the gifts. At the ceremony were 17 men who had been with the firm for over 20 years, 8 of which had served over 30 years."
1911 John Haley died.
1912 Sam Haley died.
Two members of the Paul family, who had marital relations to the Haley family, became directors and Joe Fletcher ran the business as secretary. William Paul had married the Haley brothers' only sister Ann, and had been closely associated with the firm since its earlier days.
1916 Mr W. D. Hopkins was appointed Managing Director.
1917 Hopkins resigned and Mr F. C. Hoefling replaced him.
1917 An association formed between the Haley factory and Turner Tanning Machinery Co. of Massachusetts, America. The whole office organisation of the American agent moved from Leicester to Bramley.
During the War, the firm was making machinery for both Britain and the Allies, exporting frequently to Russia.