Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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William Henry Houldsworth

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William Henry Houldsworth (1834–1917)

William Henry Houldsworth (1834–1917), cotton industrialist and politician

Sir William Henry Houldsworth, 1st Baronet (born Ardwick, Manchester 20 August 1834, died Kilmarnock 18 April 1917) was a mill-owner in Reddish, Stockport. He was Conservative MP for Manchester North West from 1883 to 1906, and sometime chairman of the Fine Cotton Spinners' Association. He was made a baronet in 1887.

Houldsworth bought farmland by the Stockport Branch Canal in Reddish in the 1860’s and built Reddish Mill, then the largest cotton-spinning mill in the world (started 1863, completed 1865).

Four members of the Houldsworth family were 60% shareholders in the Reddish Spinning Company Limited which built the North Mill (started 1870) and the Middle Mill (started 1874).

An Institute (now Houldsworth working men’s club) was completed in 1874. All the above were designed by the architect Abraham Stott. Houldsworth commissioned the architect Alfred Waterhouse to design St. Elisabeth's church, rectory and school. All the above buildings are still standing.

The start of a model village was also laid out, with a variety of houses built in front of the mill. Some of the houses have been demolished, but those in Houldsworth Street and Liverpool Street remain.

The City of Manchester made him a freeman in 1905, and the Victoria University of Manchester awarded him an honorary LLD. In later life, Houldsworth moved away from Reddish and Manchester, and concentrated on his estate at Kilmarnock, Scotland.

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