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British Industrial History

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Lawrence Wilson and Sons

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of Cornholme Mills, Todmorden, near Manchester, supplier of bobbins and skewers, tubes, spools, bosses, clearers.

1823 Company established by Lawrence Wilson.

Continued by Lawrence Wilson and Sons

1875 Dissolution of the Partnership between James Wilson, Joshua Henry Wilson, and Lawrence Wilson, carrying on business at Cornholme, near Todmorden, in the county of Lancaster, and at certain steam saw mills at Athlone, in the county of Meath, in Ireland, as Bobbin Manufacturers and Timber Merchants, under the style or firm of Lawrence Wilson and Sons so far as regards James Wilson; the businesses would be carried as Lawrence Wilson and Sons, by Joshua Henry Wilson, and Lawrence Wilson[1]

Continued as Wilson Bros.

'CONCERNING BOBBIN MANUFACTURE.
INTERESTING LOCAL HISTORY.
To the Editor of the “News.”
Sir, — In the "News", of last Friday the report relating to the trouble at the Garston and Barnsley Bobbin Works seems to be somewhat confusing, consequently readers generally will be at some loss to understand who the works belong to. The Cornholme and Garston Works are absolutely separate and distinct from the Barnsley and Athlone Works, the trading name of the firm at Garston and Cornholme being Wilson Brothers Bobbin Co. Ltd., and the trading name of the firm at Barnsley being Wilson & Co. Ltd., Beevor Works, Barnsley, this last-named company being the proprietors of the works at Athlone; but as there have been many changes in the trading names I am sending you the present review of both companies and of the firm of Wilsons since its first inception.

'The founder of the firm, Lawrence Wilson, began business at Hough-stone, Todmorden, in 1823. He was there about one year. He then removed to Pudsey Mill, and was there about 7 years, after which he built and commenced the works at Cornholme and called the place "Cornholme." For a long time the place was run in the name of and by the founder, but eventually it was changed to the name of Lawrence Wilson & Sons. In 1851 or thereabout they began a branch works at Barnsley and called it Beevor Mill, taking its name from Beevor Hall close by. In 1859 Mr. Lawrence Wilson, senior, died. In 1862 dissolution of partnership took place, and one of the brothers, John William, in conjunction with new partner, Mr. Frederick Newman, took the Barnsley branch over as a separate place. They ran the place for some eight years as Wilson & Newman. The mill at Cornholme continued to be worked by three of the brothers, Joshua Henry, James and Lawrence, as Lawrence Wilson & Sons. When the dissolution of partnership took place at Barnsley and Mr. Newman retired, his place was taken up by Sam Wilson, and the place was run by two brothers, John William and Samuel Wilson, as J. W. & S. Wilson, Beevor Mills, Barnsley. On account of the difficulty of getting a proper supply of timber for the works at Cornholme and Barnsley the two firms for a mutual supply joined hands, and about the year 1872 established the works at Athlone, Ireland, timber there at that time being plentiful and cheap, likewise labour. The trading name of the firm was Wilson Bros., Shannon Saw Mills, Athlone, Ireland, Lawrence Wilson, Gomholme, and Sam Wilson, Barnsley, being in charge of the place. Lawrence did not stay there long, coming back to Cornholme. Under this joint ownership Athlone went for some time, but owing to the exigencies of trade caused by the English firms being worked and owned separately, it was deemed advisable to make Cornholme, Barnsley and Athlone works into one joint concern, and this was done, the trading name at all the three places being “Wilson Brothers.” And there let it be observed, the old trading name Lawrence Wilson & Sons becomes extinct.

'This arrangement did not laet long, and very shortly led to dissolution of partnership with the following result. Cornholme was a place on its own account, but kept the trading name of Wilson Brothers; Barnsley was on its own account, but traded under the name Wilson and Co.; Athlone was taken over by Sam Wilson on his own account, who traded as Samuel Wilson, Shannon Saw Mills, Athlone, Ireland. Sam for time continued to supply both English works with cut timber, etc., and also manufactured bobbins as well. Later on yet another change takes place, with the result that the Cornholme firm of Wilson Brothers bought the Athlone Works of Sam Wilson, took it over and worked it. In 1889 Wilson Brothers was made into private limited company. Owing to the supply of timber at Athlone not being so good and the increased cost of carriage both by road and rail to the works at Athlone (so it was said) as well as the inconvenience of working the place, about the years 1893 and 1894 it was decided to build works at Garston and close down Athlone. This was done, and the works at Athlone afterwards got into the hands of Hobbies Limited.

'In 1897 another change took place in the constitution of this company, its trading name being how altered to Wilson Bros. Bobbin Co. Ltd., and yet another change took place in May, 1900, the private limited company of Wilson Bros. Bobbin Co. was made into a "public" limited liability Company, with the share capital and mortgage debenture stock largely increased. The trading name of this last new company was Wilson Brothers Bobbin Company (1900) Limited. There was some legal reason at the time why "1900" had to be used, but it has not been used for some time back, the present trading name of the company being Wilson Brothers Bobbin Company Limited, Cornholme Works, Garston, the registered office being there. When the works began at Garston first the name was Atlas Works, but that name has ceased to exist.

'Referring again to Barnsley, that firm was made into a private limited company in 1893, and has so continued. A few years ago this Barnsley firm of Wilson & Co. Ld. resumed the working of the works at Athlone, after Hobbies Limited had given the place up, the works at both places being now under the control of Wilson & Co. Ltd., Barnsley. To many of the present generation it will be news to hear that in the Todmorden and Cornholme districts there have been eight bobbin mills, but in the immediate district of Cornholme never more than three at one time, namely, Wilsons, of Cornhole, Helliwells of Pudsey Mill, and the Todmorden and Cornholme Bobbin Co. Ltd. Helliwells had a small place at Cliviger Mill. Some 69 years ago there was also a small bobbin mill at Gatebottom, run by James Crabtree & Son; there was also some bobbin turning at Lineholme, in conjunction with the shuttle works of Crossleys, and there was also some bobbin turning carried on by Sutcliffes, of Cockden; they removed to Brighouse. There was also the firm of Hodgson and Astin, Springwood Mill, Cornholme, and some bobbin turning was also carried on by John Holt when he had the saw mill near where printing works are. What a transformation has taken place! Wilson Bros. Bobbin Co. Ltd. being the only bobbin mill left in the district. In my young days the making of bobbins was the staple industry at Cornholme. It not so to-day. In my opinion one the greatest blows to Cornholme and to its bobbin making industry was given to it by the closing of the Todmorden and Cornholme Bobbin Co. Ltd. My friend, Mr. Thomas Hargreaves, did his level best to give it further life, but was too late. Mismanagement by its officials and directors was the principal cause, though some of its workpeople were not free from blame, by any means. Thanking you in anticipation, I am, yours respectfully,
THOMAS CRABTREE. 72, Tithebarn-road, Southport, 6th July, 1914.' [2]



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. London Gazette 28 July 1876
  2. Todmorden & District News - Friday 10 July 1914