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British Industrial History

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William Sinclair and Sons (Stationers)

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of Albert Works, Otley, Yorkshire, England

1837 William Sinclair served his apprenticeship as a printer and bookbinder with William Walker of Otley. His indentures as apprentice are still preserved. On completion of his apprenticeship at the age of 21, he moved further down the valley to Wetherby where he commenced business on his own account.

1854 Sinclair returned to Otley, moving his business with him. At that time Otley was rapidly becoming a centre for the paper and printing industries, particularly with the invention of the Wharfedale printing press in the town which was to give birth to one of Otley's major industries. William moved into the premises in Westgate, Otley where the first such Wharfedales had been built. At the time he employed 19 staff.

1865 William died and the business was continued by his two young sons, Jonathan and John William.

As the business grew, new, larger premises were needed and the brothers bought a field called Low Lycks on which to build their new factory. This field is part of the site still occupied today by Sinclairs.

The business continued to expand and by the end of the 19th Century 70 people were employed. The start of the 20th Century saw a growing export trade in addition to UK sales.

Jonathan's son, William Frederick Sinclair joined the business and eventually succeeded his father and uncle.

The 20th Century was one of continuous expansion in trade, buildings and modern automated machinery.

1901 The Silvine trade name was registered and became synonymous with good quality stationery.

1922 Listed Exhibitor. Manufacturers of Inexpensive Stationery; Account, Memo and Exercise Books; School Stationery; Reporters' Note Books; Drawing Books, Pocket Books, Tablets; Stationery Packets; Tags. (Stand No. L.55)

1948 Mr William Michael Sinclair (Mr W. F. Sinclair's son) became a director

The family connection is maintained as his son-in-law and grandson are the current directors of the business - six generations at the helm of this family business where many employees have long family involvements themselves.

2008 William Sinclair is one of the town's largest employers and one of its oldest businesses. (03/08)

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