Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,152 pages of information and 245,599 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Platt Brothers

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1903. Self-acting Spinning Mule. Exhibit at Coldharbour Mill
Illustration from Platt Brothers' 'Catalogue of Cotton Spinning & Weaving Machinery, with Calculations, &c' (1906)
Illustration from Platt Brothers' 'Catalogue of Cotton Spinning & Weaving Machinery, with Calculations, &c' (1906)




Dec 1921.
1924. Platt Brothers Double Action Gin.
1930. Platt-Toyoda automatic loom.
Gears on 1952 Platt Bros textile machine at Trencherfield Mill

Platt Brothers and Co Ltd, ironfounders, textile machinery manufacturers and colliery proprietors,

of Hartford Works, Oldham

and of Corporation Street, Walsall (1937)

The Platt family began to manufacture machinery for the woollen industry from a small workshop at Nicker Brow, Dobcross, Saddleworth, Lancashire, before moving to Oldham, developing large works on two sites, at Greenacres Moor and at Werneth.

By 1821 Henry Platt had established himself in Oldham as a manufacturer of cotton spinning machinery, the formation of the company.

1822 Entered a partnership with Elijah Hibbert as Hibbert and Platt and later as Hibbert, Platt and Sons which developed from an assembler of parts manufactured by others to a fully integrated manufacturer in its own right.

1829–30 Opened Hartford works at Greenacres Moor

1837 John Platt became a partner in the company

1845 Opened the Hartford new works at Oldham's new railhead

1846 John Platt became the senior partner in the firm after the death of his father in 1842, of his elder brother Joseph (1815–1845), and of Elijah Hibbert in 1846

1851 Employing 1,070 men and 239 boys. [1]

1854 The company changed its name to Platt Brothers and Company when the Platt brothers (John and James) bought out the Hibbert interest

1854 Opened a foundry

The company began to manufacture looms mainly for export.

1857 Opened a forge

1861 Employing 2,109 mechanics, 1,973 labourers and 1,362 boys [2]

1862 Samuel Radcliffe Platt, the only one of John Platt's sons with a mechanical bent, joined the business and passed through every department of the works between 1862 and 1865.

1865 Description of their works. Around 4,000 men and boys employed. [3]

1868 The company became a limited liability company under the chairmanship of John Platt.

Platt Brothers were at the forefront of technological innovation and their plant in Oldham was the most highly mechanised of its kind. Platt systematically improved the technique of cotton spinning and perfected the carding machine, the roving frame and the self-acting mule. Platts' mules were unrivalled in their length and speed of operation, and in productivity.

In 1879 Platts reached its highest recorded levels of power loom production and its export of spinning machines. The Platt Company was the largest employer in Oldham and the largest maker of cotton-processing machinery in Lancashire and hence in the world. It became the largest textile machine makers in the world employing over 15,000 people, twice the size of their nearest rivals, Dobson and Barlow in Bolton and Asa Lees and Co on Greenacres Moor, Oldham.

1894 Platts' equipment was installed in the Lion Spinning Mill. Description of visit to the Hartford Ironworks founded by Platts in 1821. 55 acres excluding collieries[4]

By 1896 Platts began to face increased competition from Howard and Bullough of Accrington, Tweedales and Smalley of Rochdale, Dobson and Barlow and Asa Lees

The Edwardian boom saw Platts reach its peak levels of production when the average length of new mules ordered from the firm reached 1,274 spindles.

By the end of the 19th century, Platts were the largest engineering firm in the world, employing 15,000 workers.

1898 Platt Brothers became a public company.

1914 Listed as manufacturers of textile machinery and colliery proprietors. Specialities: hopper bale-breaker, patent combinations of opening machinery, improved carding engines, cotton combing machines, slubbing, intermediate and roving frames, self-acting mules, ring frames, self-acting twiners, doubling machines, looms and preparation; also machines for the manufacturer of worsted yarns on both the English and French systems[5]

Platt Brothers also supplied plans for mills as well as machinery and fitters to construct the machines, both at home and abroad.

1917 Advert for textile machinery. Also colliery proprietors and foundry coke makers[6]

The 1920s and 30s brought a slump in demand for textile machinery and Platt Brothers began to lose money, prices for the few orders of machinery were driven down and would have resulted in one or more of the companies going out of business had it continued.

1927 See Aberconway for information on the company and its history

1931 Private company. To avert bankruptcy, Platts and their bankers appointed Sir Walter Preston as Chairman of the Board and it was he who subsequently proposed a merger of Lancashire textile manufacturers known as Textile Machinery Makers (TMM) consisting of Platt Brothers, Howard and Bullough, Brooks and Doxey, Asa Lees, Dobson and Barlow, Joseph Hibbert and John Hetherington and Sons, who sold their textile-machinery-making assets to TMM in return for shares. The constituent companies continued to trade under their separate names. Tweedales and Smalley were not initially partners of the TMM scheme but they joined later.

1934 Exhibited cast iron blocks for roads, at British Industries Fair.[7]

1937 Manufacturers of malleable iron castings. [8]

1945 A substantial holding in Prince-Smith and Stells was acquired by Platt Brothers and Co; shares were also acquired by members of T. M. M., helping give confidence in the future of Prince-Smith [9]

1953 Textile Machinery Makers remained the largest subsidiary of Platt Brothers (Holdings) Ltd[10].

1956 Platt Brothers bought controlling interests in the private company Hayward Tyler and Co hydraulic and general engineers[11] and in Le Grand, Sutcliff and Gell[12] in order to diversify the business away from the textile machinery business as this was subject to sudden fluctuations[13]. Longclose Engineering Co was another subsidiary[14]

1958 Scheme of arrangement to effect a merger between Platt Brothers and Co (Holdings) and J. Stone and Co (Holdings); Stones became a wholly owned subsidiary of Platts; the company name was changed to Stone-Platt Industries[15].

The constituent companies of Textile Machinery Makers continued to trade under their separate names as the Textile Machinery Division of Stone-Platt Industries.

1961 Textile machinery manufacturers. [16]

During the late 1960s the company recognised that textile technology was in a state of rapid change, and the previous clear cut divisions between the processing of different raw materials had largely vanished. Also it was not logical for the constituent companies to operate separately - the multiplicity of units, R&D, manufacturing, marketing and sales needed rationalisation; in consequence a new company was formed in 1970, Platt International.

1982 Stone-Platt Industries closed and the few viable parts were sold off.


  • A number of exhibits at Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1851 Census
  2. 1861 Census
  3. The Engineer 1865/08/25
  4. The Engineer of 10th August 1894 p118
  5. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  6. 1917 Worrall's Yorkshire Textile Directory Advert p2
  7. Engineering 1934/03/02
  8. 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
  9. The Times June 9, 1945
  10. The Times, 12 June 1953
  11. The Times, 12 November 1956
  12. The Times January 2, 1957
  13. The Times June 27, 1957
  14. The Times June 27, 1957
  15. The Times, 18 October 1958
  16. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  • [1] Platt Web Site