MICHAEL Day of Crosland Moor is plunging into the textile history of the Holme Valley as a follow-up to a related degree and hopes to make a book of his findings.
He has, however, come up against an enigma, and it involves the Beardsell family of Holme.
"The family were so energetically involved in the textile trade that there must be a longer, and interesting, story to be told, if the present members of the family are prepared to reveal it," said Michael. "I hope they will.
"The Beardsells are interesting because they represent the transition from home weaving to full industrial production – they’re a microcosm of the textile side of the Industrial Revolution."
This is the tale so far.
James Beardsell, son of Joshua, was born in Holme in 1764. He left school at the age of seven and began working with his father in the textile trade.
He is credited with introducing the first spinning jenny into the district, purportedly in 1776 – when he would have been only 12 years old.
He was a determined man; when he found that he could not sell his cloth in Huddersfield market he walked to Stockport or Manchester carrying two pieces on his back. Eventually he went further afield to sell his cloth, to Birmingham and eventually London, which he visited regularly for about 40 years.
These visits introduced him to Southdown wool, which had a longer staple than the breeds found in Yorkshire, enabling the spinning of finer yarn.
He also introduced German wool to Huddersfield, which was being imported into London.
"James married, and in 1789 built Holme House, which was used as a home and also a warehouse. He had four sons, Joseph, Charles, Peter and Isaac, whom he took into partnership in 1828," said Michael.
"The five traded as James Beardsell and Sons. Each of the sons was responsible for a particular aspect of production, so that the business continued to work smoothly while James was on a visit to London, when he would be away for about three months.
"The family had a spinning shop in the Meal Hill area of Holme and at one time had a dyehouse off Town Green.
"James Beardsell and Sons took space in Upper Digley Mill for about four years from 1837, before moving to Lower Brow Bottom Mill in 1841.
"The brothers eventually went their separate ways; the name of the company at Lower Brow Bottom changed to Charles Beardsell and Sons, who either ceased trading or moved in 1867, as the finishing, spinning and dyehouse machinery and plant was put up for sale.
"Isaac had moved to Hagg House, near Thongsbridge. His father James was living with Isaac in 1856 at the time of James’s death.
"At the time of the Holme Valley Flood in 1852, Isaac was using premises at Smithy Place Mill at Brockholes.
"The firm of Beardsell was still there in 1883, by which time it was possibly being run by Isaac’s son.
"Peter unfortunately died very early and as yet I have found no trace of Joseph. It would be wonderful if I could contact remaining members of the family to find out what happened."
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