Spinning Spen’s rich history

This week we ask readers to tell us what they know about two of Cleckheaton’s oldest companies.

Sunday, 2nd March 2014, 3:00 pm
Prospect Mills in Cleckheaton

The bare bones of the histories of Critchley, Sharp & Tetlow and George Anderton & Son will be displayed at the Cleckheaton Library on Tuesday March 4 from 10.30am-7pm.

If you can help add flesh to these skeletons with any personal anecdotes, memories or clips from family albums, please come to Cleckheaton Library on Tuesday or write to Margaret Heward, Spenborough Guardian, 17 Wellington Road, Dewsbury WF13 1HQ or e-mail to [email protected]

The Card Makers

George Anderton

The first known maker of card clothing in the Spen Valley was Richard Overend who, in 1698, started to make “card” at High Popplewell in Scholes: his great-grandson, Robert Overend employed William Sharp as his foreman in the family business.

When the Overend family ceased trading in 1833, William Sharp and his son Samuel founded William Sharp & Son at Perseverance Mill (also in Scholes) to manufacture card-clothing.

In 1895 William Sharp’s grandson, another William, in partnership with his son-in-law John Tetlow took over the company of Robert Walker & Co, wire manufacturers of Tofts Mill and Prospect Forge in Cleckheaton. This acquisition led to the building of the large Prospect Mill and the founding of Critchley, Sharp & Tetlow in 1908.

Some 20 years later the Sharp family brought about the merger of most of the local card manufacturers to create Card Clothing & Belting Ltd (CC&B) at Prospect Mill.

Prospect Mills in 2003 when it was derelict (110804)

In 1959 CC&B was listed on the London Stock Exchange making shares in the company available to outside investors thus enabling John Ewart to gain control of CC&B in 1974: he renamed the business as Carclo and proceeded to acquire the controlling interest in English Card Clothing Ltd (EEC).

The two rival groups of card-clothing manufacturers, CC&B and EEC were merged in 1979 and all their UK production was transferred to Prospect Mills in 1982: thus were the legacies of Samuel Law & Sons, William Sharp & Son, L M Tetlow, Tom Briggs, Joshua Lister & Sons, M V Middleton, Fleming, Birkby & Goodall and James Taylor & Sons finally forged into a single entity.

In 2005 The Carclo Group sold their entire card business to NV Bekaert of Belgium who promptly transferred all production to China and finally closed Prospect Mills in 2007.

Cleckheaton once boasted the title of “The Card Clothing capital of the World”! With so many local companies involved in the creation of this proud heritage there should be a treasure-trove of information hiding in people’s memories and family albums. Please help us complete the history of a legacy which was once vital to the prosperity of Cleckheaton.

George Anderton & Son

In 1819 the reader of a Bradford newspaper spotted a For Sale advertisement; on offer were two weaving looms at a mill in Cleckheaton.

The reader was George Anderton and his impulsive journey to Cleckheaton led to the creation of an internationally famous worsted spinning business: it also provided the town with the British School, a Mechanics Institute - and a railway.

Starting off at a mill on Westgate, George Anderton expanded to build Moorend Mills in 1835: the mill was renamed Victoria Mills shortly after the 1837 coronation.

Many additions were made to the original buildings in Cleckheaton and in 1912 a factory was established in Doncaster also. Throughout the company’s 170 year history it was managed by seven generations of the Anderton family.

George Anderton was a director of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company and he brought the railway line to Cleckheaton in 1847. As the town’s “Surveyor of Highways” in 1834, George Anderton upgraded the meandering Back Lane to create the Northgate that we know today.

In 1919 George Anderton & Son celebrated its centenary: to mark the auspicious occasion, all the employees were taken on a day trip to Blackpool with free entry to the Tower and the Winter Gardens and with “2s 6d for the provision of tea”.

Very little is on record about the company after the 1919 centenary. Hopefully, readers of the Spenborough Guardian will be help us bring the Anderton history up to date when they visit on Cleckheaton Library on Tuesday.