The blaze which destroyed Newsome Mill last week brought an end to an era which stretched right back to 1827.
And it turns out the mill had been badly damaged by fire before and was the scene of a tragic accidents.
The history of Newsome Mill was covered in a book written by Huddersfield historian Vivien Teasdale called Huddersfield Mills – A Textile Heritage and it is available on Amazon.
Vivien revealed that John Taylor built Croft House in the area around 1827 and used part of the land to build a shed in which he produced patterned fabrics for the fancy waistcoats beloved by Victorian businessmen.
Ten years later he’d completed a tall chimney and new warehouse, with a new dyehouse built three years after that. Soon the firm was exporting to many places in South America.
By the mid 1850s the firm was also making trouserings and shawls and had mills at Colne Road, run by John’s sons John William and Ephraim Beaumont. Later Ephraim formed a partnership with Joshua Littlewood to become Taylor & Littlewood.
The Newsome site was managed by John Taylor’s sons, Fred and Joseph Walter. Unfortunately, Joseph Walter was killed in an accident in Newsome Mill and Fred went into partnership with Joah Lodge to form the firm of Taylor & Lodge.
In 1872 the mill caught fire, needing fire crews from Armitage Bridge, Huddersfield Corporation, Kaye’s Mill and the Liverpool, London and Globe Insurance company who insured the mill.
More than £10,000 of damage was done to machinery, stock and the building itself. When the mill was rebuilt, gas was installed to provide better lighting. Unfortunately, that was not without its problems when in 1874 there was a serious gas explosion which badly injured the nightwatchman.
A new mill was built next to the weaving shed around 1885. It included a staff dining room and was described in the newspaper as “a splendid block of buildings, mills and weaving sheds of great extent and admirable arrangement.”
Much of the cloth was manufactured for export with the firm having agencies in Glasgow, Paris, New York and Melbourne. They exhibited in many trade fairs too, winning the gold medal for fancy cloths at the Paris exhibition of 1878 and first award for the same cloths at the Sydney exhibition of 1879. Some of the cloth produced in the mill was supplied to Savile Row in London.
In 1977 the firm celebrated 150 years. This was during an export boom for the textile trade and new jacquard machinery was fitted to the new Dornier weaving machines which had been recently bought.
There were full order books, with most of the orders for export but the firm suddenly announced short time working and in 1980 made 60 workers redundant and 40 more in 1981.
Only office and design staff remained at Newsome with a small weaving base for producing new design ranges before manufacturing.By 1984 the mill was sold off to be formed into units for smaller firms and the mill chimney was demolished in 1996.