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British Industrial History

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John Fairweather

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of Manchester.

This entry relates to John Fairweather and his cotton mills.

1825 Listed in Baines's 1825 Directory as a sizer, cotton spinner & calico manufacturer (power), 2 Phoenix Street; house Trafford Cottage, Cornbrook.

1837 'Serious Fire in Manchester — On Saturday morning, about a quarter before four o'clock, a police watchman perceived that a portion of Mr. Fairweather's factory, Cambridge-street, at the bottom of Gloucester-street, on the Manchester bank of the river Medlock, was on fire. He gave the alarm ; and Mr.Rose and a party of the police firemen, with the engines Niagara and Water Witch, were on the spot in about ten minutes after receiving notice. The factory (which, we believe, stands on the site of one formerly known as Littlewood's factory, which was destroyed by fire and many lives lost upwards of thirty years ago) consists of two parallel ranges of buildings connected at the south end, but separated elsewhere by a yard lying between them. The fire, it is supposed — for nothing is known certainly on the subject — originated in the drying-stove, which is at the connecting end of the premises, and which was used for drying warps, &c. The building at this point is four stories in height, and the room above the stove was used as a store room, in which there were at the time seven or eight hundred warps stored. Beneath these rooms was the boiler bouse. On the arrival of the fire engines, the flames had so far spread that it was found impossible to save the store room ; the efforts of the firemen were therefore directed to confining the fire to that part of the building in which it appeared to have commenced. It communicated through the engine house to that part of the building called the large factory, which is five or six stories in height, and also a room on the other side in which cotton is prepared for the spinners. By the active and unremitting exertions of the firemen, the flames were prevented from spreading further ; the communication was cut off, and even the cotton in process of preparation was saved, with the exception of a small quantity, damaged by fire and water. Of the latter element, there was but a very scanty supply obtainable from the River Medlock and the engines, we believe, were supplied chiefly from a well at the cotton mill of Messrs. Birley and Co., on the opposite side of Cambridge-street. The flames were subdued on this, as on almost every former occasion wherever it was practicable, by the firemen pushing their way into rooms where the fire raged, into which the hose and branch were introduced and copious streams of water were thus poured, not by guess, as must have been the case if thrown from the ground outside, but directly on the flames. In one instance the men entered the cock-loft, in the roof of the building, where they found the smoke so dense and suffocating as to make it impossible to remain long in the place ; and one man was so seriously affected by inhaling it, that he was taken ill immediately after quitting tbe room, and was sent home. The flames were wholly extinguished by about eight o'clock. The south-west corner of the building is almost entirely destroyed; the warps in the store-room were all consumed ; and the total damage to the building and stock is estimated to be about £3,000. Mr. Fairweather was partially insured, but not by any means to an extent which would cover the loss.'[1]

From the above, we can clearly identify the location of the mill. Bancks's 1831 map shows the mill next to Cambridge Street Bridge (over the River Medlock) immediately west of Cambridge Street, at its junction with the end of Gloucester Street, and bounded on two sides by a bend in the River Medlock. On the opposite side of Cambridge Street, and on the opposite side of the river, was the weaving shed of Birley and Co (see Cambridge Street Mills). The 1849 O.S. map shows the buildings with a very similar ground plan, and called Medlock Mills. The part of Cambridge Street next to the mill is renamed Kenyon Street, and the MSJ&AR viaduct has been built immediately north of the mill. The larger mill building survived as the Hotspur Press of Percy Brothers.

1841 Advert: 'Cotton Spinning Machinery, Fustian Looms, Hydraulic Press, Eight-inch Ram ; Two Large Copper Boilers, &c.
By T. M. FISHER, on Friday the 28th day of May, 1841, at the Chorlton Mill, Chorlton-upon-Medlock, the property Mr. John Fairweather, sold in consequence of his having disposed of the premises, sale to commence at ten o'clock in the forenoon :
THE Excellent MACHINERY, comprising 37-inch willow; opener, with two beaters: capital blower, with one beater, and lap attached, for 40-inch cards, new, Hibbert and Platt; nine carding engines, 40 inches on the wire, with licker-in, and eight rollers, in iron frames; six do. 40 inches on the wire, with three rollers, and seven flats in wood frames; these 15 engines are in sets of five each, with railway trough, drawing head, and patent plunger; 30 other carding engines, varying from 18 to 30 inches on the wire; grinding machine for 40 inch; two railway drawing frames, each with six heads, and drawing head, new, Hulme; four Dyer's frames, each 20 tubes; three drawing frames, each eight double heads; 40 throstles, each 120 spindles; 12 pair of mules, each 180 spindles; forty 36-inch fustian power looms, Sharp, Roberts and Co., in excellent working condition; warping mills, winding machines, skips, cans, driving straps, bobbins, spools, 12-inch and 7-inch single-geered lathes, turning tools, drills, teagle and rope; capital hydraulic baling press, new, Galloway, with 8-inch ram, 3-inch pillars, and table six feet three feet seven inches; large weigh beam, iron boiler, two large copper pans, indigo mill, and other effects. May be viewed on Thursday the 27th, and catalogues had on the premises, or from the Auctioneer, 17, Princess-street, Manchester.'[2]

1842 'Breach of the Peace at Mr.Fairweather's Factory.— We regret to have to record one exception to the otherwise perfectly tranquil state of the town during the day, which occurred about seven o'clock in the evening. It appears that some weavers had been taken on at the mill of Mr.John Fairweather, Ormond-street, Chorlton, and as they were leaving work last evening they were assaulted, and some of them beaten by the mob, who also broke about eighteen squares of glass in the mill. A detachment of police was soon on the spot, and the mob were speedily dispersed.'[3]

1846 Death notice: 'On the 15th inst., in his 70th year, John Fairweather Esq, of Princess-street, Hulme, late of Cornbrook, Stretford. [4]

1846 'Sale of Valuable Modern Household Furniture; Drab Figured Damask Window Drapery, and Gilt Cornice ; Eight-days Clock, in mahogany case, by Barton ; ditto ditto, by Tootal, Eccles ; Pair of Large Globes, in mahogany frames, Carey, and Oil Baize Covers : Capital Barometer, by Merone ; Mahogany and Painted Wardrobes; Single and Double Barreled Gun, in mahogany case ; ..... by order of the Executors of the late Mr John Fairweather. .... on the premises, situate King-street, near the Bull's Head Inn, Chester-road, Hulme, ......'[5]. Note: The 1849 O.S. map[6] shows that the area immediately west of King Street was characterised by large houses and gardens, while the east side was marked by the presence of some denser housing.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 17 June 1837
  2. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 22 May 1841
  3. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 27 August 1842
  4. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 19 September 1846
  5. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 3 October 1846
  6. The Godfrey Edition Old Ordnance Survey Maps: Manchester Large Scale Sheet 37: Hulme: St George's 1849