Heckmondwike’s royal connections

LEGEND: Stanley Matthews with factory managers Eddie Grange (left) and Harry Blacker.
LEGEND: Stanley Matthews with factory managers Eddie Grange (left) and Harry Blacker.

This week I am looking for answers about a company whose products were fit for a Queen, and another who made the boots for one of football’s most famous sons.

A family starting as wheelwrights at “Moor Top”, Cleckheaton (thought to be somewhere near today’s Hartshead Moor Cricket Club) in 1849, progressed to coach-building and moved to larger premises in Heckmondwike in 1864.

THE LOT: The muddied boots complete with laces and studs raised nearly �40,000 at auction, along with a magazine article, a dressing room ticket and a programme for the final signed by players including Matthews, Shimwell, Fenton, Taylor, Johnston, Garrett, Robinson and Perry. (pic stanley matthews boots)

THE LOT: The muddied boots complete with laces and studs raised nearly �40,000 at auction, along with a magazine article, a dressing room ticket and a programme for the final signed by players including Matthews, Shimwell, Fenton, Taylor, Johnston, Garrett, Robinson and Perry. (pic stanley matthews boots)

William Rouse & Son of the Croft Street Carriage Works in Heckmondwike built a wide range of horse-drawn carriages (from hansoms to troikas) to an exceptional standard of craftsmanship which earned them the custom of Queen Victoria and of many prominent European households - from France to Russia – including several heads of state.

The picture is of a “Char-a Bang” illustrated in Rouse’s extensive 1901 catalogue.

The company continued to trade until well into the twentieth century but remarkably little is known about Heckmondwike’s once famous Rouse’s Carriage Works. Does any reader of the Spenborough Guardian have any information about their antecedents’ memories or information about the Rouse Company?

The link between Sir Stanley Matthews and Heckmondwike is well known: the famous footballer had his goal-scoring boots made by the CWS’s Heckmondwike Boot & Shoe Works.

The Co-operative Wholesale Society chose Heckmondwike as the preferred site of their second footwear factory in 1880 (after Leicester) and started to manufacture shoes and boots in Heckmondwike in that same year.

The CWS archive reveals that the company purchased and moved into Brunswick Mills in 1884 following the collapse of that mill’s builder, William & Arthur Cardwell, but the Heckmondwike Boot and Shoe Works spent the first four years of its existence in rented property somewhere on or near to Beck Lane.

Does any reader of the Spenborough Guardian know where the Boot & Shoe Works was actually located in the “Beck Lane area” between 1880 and 1884?

Anyone who can help with either query can email Richard at grylls@dsl.pipex.com.