BRACEWELL HISTORY IN BARLICK

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BRACEWELL HISTORY IN BARLICK

Post by Stanley » 20 Apr 2012, 12:32

BRACEWELL HISTORY IN BARLICK AND EARBY. THE BRIEF OUTLINE. [Research03]

This is my latest attempt at the Bracewells in Barlick and is as far as I intend to go for the time being. My motive in trying to understand them was to get a clearer picture of my main interest, the overall local history of the town. I have no doubt there some mistakes in this attempt but they will be minor, I am satisfied that the broad sweep is accurate. Feel free to share this information with whoever you like but make sure that this codicil is left intact. I am fallible and want everyone to know it!

SCG/30 November 2003.

A bit of background. Thanks to Doreen Crowther’s wonderful ferreting in the deeds and wills which she shared with me and the combined researches of Julie Cheche in America and Ann Battersby here at home I can trace the Bracewells back to William Bracewell (died 23/02/1595) of Salterforth, wife was Grace who died 7/02/1597. His son Henry , no birth date, married Helen Hartley in 1613. 8 children and William (1657) married Ann Acornlee in 1685. They had four children and the eldest son, William (1693) of Salterforth, yeoman, married Ann Hudson in 1713 and is noted as dying at Coates in 1767. Ann died at Coates in 1764.

The Bracewells are moving up, or at least this branch of the family is. We know they were at Coates before 1764. There’s a trap here, it’s easy to assume that Coates meant Coates Hall, the best house in Barlick. However… Coates Hall was rebuilt in its present form by William Drake who paid the land tax for it in 1753/1756. In 1756 William Bagshawe paid the tax, ditto in 1760 and 1770.

[JOHN BAGSHAWE. (1758-1801)
Taken from ‘A Study in Engineering History: Bagshawe versus the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, 1790/1799’ by R B Schofield. Printed in the Bulletin of John Rylands Library, University of Manchester. Autumn 1976.


John Bagshawe inherited the joint estates of the brothers William and John Bagshawe in November 1791. These were the Oaks, Wormhill Hall of Castleton and Coates Hall Barnoldswick. He had trained as a lawyer and for a time looked after his Uncle John but when he died and John Bagshawe inherited he devoted the rest of his time to managing his estates.

The Coates Hall Estate included tenanted farms at Coates Hall, Greenberfield and Coates Flatt. He owned the Corn Mill and worked Greenberfield Quarry. His uncle William Bagshawe who was in possession of Coates in 1770 when the first plans were being made for the L&L, realised that he owned the nearest limestone to Lancashire on the line of the canal. (Greenberfield and Coates lie on the limestone side of the Craven Fault, which divides the grit stone to the south of Barlick from the limestone to the north.)

Around 1770 he constructed a ‘deep drain’ to dewater Greenberfield Rock and during negotiations about the canal passing through his land he negotiated with John Longbottom of Halifax, the Canal Co’s principal Engineer and Surveyor for an ‘arched road’ under the waterway to allow the drain and a road to the quarry to pass. Longbottom agreed to put this before the general committee of the canal and assured him it would be ordered. (9Sept 1770)

In 1790 when canal plans were revived, tenant at Greenberfield was Thomas Thornber and at Coates Flatt, Peter Hartley. Peter Hartley attended a meeting in Colne on 24/11/1790 and reported to JB that it appeared plans had changed and his underpass was not to be built. This plus the rough way the contractors treated the locals as digging commenced seems to be the start of JB’s troubles with the L&L Co.

The canal company proposed to do away with what was the existing Skipton Road at Greenberfield and take the line down the east side of the canal to Gill thus saving two bridges and in the process, destroying JB’s plans for his quarry. He also learned that the underpass for the drain was not to be built.

JB believed that the lime in Greenberfield was better quality than that in Gill Rock Quarry opened by Colonel Farrand shortly before 1790. He suspected that the company wanted to prevent him from exploiting his quarry as they had their eye on opening a quarry of their own. In later years when Canal Co. bought land from Mr Parker at Rainhall for a quarry it seemed he was right. Schofield thinks however that it wasn’t deliberate, just shortage of capital putting pressure on the company to make least accommodation roads and bridges.

Bagshawe went to Joseph Outram [1732-1810] (father of Benjamin Outram (1764-1805)) who was to act for him until JB’s death in 1801. The matter was settled by a payment from the Canal Co to JB, or so it seemed at the time.

The Canal Co seem to have gone ahead with their original plan which was to divert the Skipton Road down the east side of the canal to the existing Greenberfield bridge. They built the bridge and after a period of worsening relations a discussion was held on 11 Nov 1797 with the canal co reps in a pub in Barlick and JB in Coates Hall, communications were by notes! Not surprisingly, it ended in deadlock.

Round about 1798 a new tenant, John Waite moved into Greenberfield and obstructed the new road with hurdles and brushwood. They stopped the road over twenty times but the Canal Co threw it down each time.

Late in 1798 Benjamin Outram came to inspect and reported on ‘Mr Bagshawe’s estate on the Banks of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.’ By February 1799 Bagshawe had won his case against the Canal Co. The canal co built the accommodation bridges for Eastwood and Banks but seem to have put only a ‘swivel’ bridge in on the line of the old road. No trace of this remains and the present road follows the new line put in by the Canal Co.

After this partial victory JB died in Staines on 21 August 1801. The Greenberfield Quarry was never exploited, the canal co’s road line to Greenberfield survived. The canal co’s quarry at Rainhall prospered, as did Farrand’s at Gill Rock.

So we can be certain that Bagshawe owned and lived for at least part of the time, in Coates Hall up to 1800.

Langdale’s topographical Dictionary of Yorkshire, 1822 notes ‘The large hall house built by the Drakes is now converted into cottages’.

So, when William and Ann Bracewell are described as dying at Coates in 1767 and 1764 they weren’t in the hall. There was a farm attached to the hall and also Coates Flatt another farm where we know Peter Hartley was tenant in 1790, so the favourite is Coates Home Farm. What we can be sure of is that they were resident in the small sub-district of Coates.

William and Ann had ten children. His second child, Christopher was born in 1716 and died at Barnoldswick in 1763. He married Elizabeth Thornton in 1737 and they had five children. The third, William of Coates born 1756 had four children, William in 1782, Sarah in 1785, Christopher in 1787 and Mary in 1799. This grouping was crucial to the story because it was here that the Bracewell Schism started. Whatever the gene is that controls sibling rivalry, it was running strongly here.

We need to step back a few years here to note the activities of William(1756). I have evidence from a very good researcher in the United States whose family have been researching their Bracewell ancestors for 50 years that in 1803 William built a water twist mill in Barnoldswick on land he owned at Coates. This is what I describe as Old Coates Mill to distinguish it from the later Coates mill next to the canal that replaced it c.1865.

Round about 1810, Christopher(1787) left Coates and the family business and moved to Thornton Hall Farm, Thornton in Craven where he married Ann Smith, daughter of George and Ann Smith of Thornton. Mary, his first child by Ann was born in 1812. In 1813 William (later Billycock) was born and in the same year Christopher and Ann moved to Earby and built Green End House. There are multiple but badly sourced references to 1803 as being the date when the Bracewell family first had interests on Earby. This would fit with building the twist mill at Coates, they would be servicing HLW. By 1839 he had built Green End Shed, a steam driven weaving shed, next to his house. A long building, it held 140 looms and was visited by the Plug Drawers in 1842. There is evidence that this building was used before 1839 as a warehouse for a large putting out business to local hand loom weavers. When Christopher (1787) died on 21/12/1847 the control of the Earby interests passed to Christopher, Edmund, Thomas and Henry his four sons. We’ll leave Earby for a moment and pursue the Barnoldswick connection.

Long before Christopher (1787) died, William, the eldest son had moved to Burnley and gone into partnership with his brother in law Samuel Smallpage who had married his sister Mary(b.1815). He was in cotton manufacture but built up the contacts that in about 1860 led to him going into partnership with a man called Griffiths and buying the Marsland Ironworks, Burnley, built in 1817. Griffiths dropped out of the partnership shortly afterwards. [On William’s death in 1885 this was sold for £20,000 and became The Burnley Ironworks.] By 1835 he had married Ellen Metcalfe and moved into her family home at Horton House, Horton in Craven. They had nine children. He took a shop at 24 Church Street, Barnoldswick and started a putting out business from there. He must have prospered because by 1846 he was building Butts Mill and in 1854 built New Mill, later Wellhouse. Atkinson, ‘Old Barlick’ says that William bought Newfield Edge House on Folly Lane at about the same time he built Butts, 1845. [ Later information proved this was not so, he rented Newfield Edge from the reverend Fawcett. See the Barlick Local Board rate books for 1892, 7 years after William's death, the owner is still a William Fawcett and the tenant is Mary Bracewell, Billycock's widow. The house, barn and attached cottages were built in 1770 by Mitchell who built what was to be Clough Mill. William Fawcett lived in the house until 1845 when he left Barlick and rented to Billycock.) On 22 April 1860 Ellen Bracewell died at Horton House her old family home. William married again to Mary Whitaker of Colne on 5th June 1861 and their only child, Ada was born in 1865.

William was a voracious entrepreneur. Apart from his two large mills in Barnoldswick and his engineering works in Burnley in 1867 he was main promoter of the Barnoldswick Railway. In July 1874 he bought large interests in the Ingleton coalfield. He bought Park Close quarry and brickworks, also the Corn Mill and started to build a gasworks to supply the town. His name constantly appears in land deals, notably for the Dam Head and Calf Hall Estates. He looked unstoppable but on the 8th of June 1880 his eldest son, William Metcalfe died suddenly at Calf Hall. In 1872 Billycock had brought both his sons, William Metcalfe and Christopher George into partnership and changed the name of the firm to William Bracewell and Sons and started to withdraw from full control. Christopher George, who built Bank Hall at Coates was a flawed son. Apart from not having much business acumen he was a drunkard and a rake. After William Metcalfe Bracewell's death William (Billycock) had to take much more responsibility and in 1885 he died. He left his personal fortune to Ada Whitaker, his daughter by his second marriage to Mary Whitaker of Colne. His daughters by Ellen Metcalfe inherited the mother’s estate at Horton in Craven and retired there. Christopher George attempted to carry on the firm but the bank had no confidence in him and foreclosed. In 1887 there was a sale of all the firm’s interests.

Up to 1885 and William’s death, we have a fairly clear picture of the Bracewells of Newfield Edge. After that there is a period of family warfare which blurs our view. Ada’s inheritance was challenged by Henry Bracewell, William’s younger brother of Thornton Manor House, and thrown into Chancery. Stephen Pickles told me that Ada was taken in by Mrs Wilkinson, wife of a coloured manufacturer at Colne and stayed there until the case was resolved. It looks as though this happened when Henry of Thornton Manor died on 28th of November 1891 at the Beeches, Gargrave. Ada married Joseph Slater in 1887 and moved back into the ancestral home at Newfield edge where she stayed until she died in 1959. Newfield Edge ownership during this period is a puzzle as I have an entry from the BUDC rate books for 1892 stating that Newfield Edge was owned by William Fawcett and the tenant was Mrs Mary Bracewell. This is almost certainly Mary Whitaker, mother to Ada, and second wife of Billycock. This is confirmed by the 1881 census and in 1891 also. Margaret Smith Bracewell, Billycock’s 5th child is there but in 1891 is at Horton House. Susannah Emily Bracewell, born 1856 to Billycock and Ellen Metcalfe is at Newfield Edge in 1881 and at Horton in 1891. (We have to accept the confusion between the name Susannah and Sarah in the census records, I have little doubt they are one and the same person) Also at Newfield Edge in 1891 is Joseph Slater and his new bride Ada Whitaker Bracewell who by this time has regained her inheritance. I have no explanation for the rate book note that William Fawcett was the owner of the house. One possibility is that this was the name of a trustee for the estate in Chancery. Henry of Thornton died in 1891 and one has to assume that it would take a while after this to sort out the legal complexities.

Christopher George also contested the disposition of the proceeds of the breaking up of William Bracewell and Sons but this case fails when he dies in 1889. So, by 1891 Billycock’s empire and his two sons have died. The only male descendant remaining is William, son of William Metcalfe, who took holy orders, became vicar of Barlick and then went to St James at Doncaster where he became a canon and ended his days. Susannah Emily and Margaret Smith Bracewell never married. They jointly inherited their mother’s estate in Horton in Craven when William (1813) died and were at Horton House in 1885. They then lived together in Gargrave and when they died left their estate to various Bracewell nephews.

On the face of it, William(1782), the eldest son of William (1756) of Coates and uncle to Billycock, made a most advantageous marriage. In 1792 he married Mary Grimshaw of Whittycroft, Barrowford. The Grimshaws were a powerful and wealthy family with extensive interests in the burgeoning textile industry. For an ambitious lad, this was a match made in heaven. He went to live in Barrowford but he never made much headway in business and died in 1827. We will return to his sons later.

We left the Earby branch of the family in 1847 when Christopher (1787) died. The four sons remaining in Earby, Christopher, Edmund, Thomas and Henry took over the family firm and traded as Bracewell Brothers. [There was another son, George Smith Bracewell but he died in infancy in 1829] In 1852 they expanded by building Victoria Mill in the middle of Earby. The first build of this mill was substantial because the J&D Yates double beam engine they installed was a large engine for the time. The mill comprised of a multi-storey spinning section and a large weaving shed. At the same time the Bracewell Brothers ran Airebank Mill in Gargrave and Waterloo Mill at Clitheroe. Henry settled at Thornton Hall Farm and eventually built Thornton Manor House, Christopher stayed on in Green End at Earby, Edmund lived in The Beeches at Gargrave and Thomas moved to Clitheroe to look after Waterloo, when he died he was living in Eshton Terrace, Clitheroe.

In 1874 both Edmund and Thomas died, Edmund on the 5th April at Gargrave and Thomas on 20th November at Eshton Terrace, Clitheroe. This broke the Bracewell Brothers original partnership. [Manchester Comm. List for 1881/82 notes that Christopher Bracewell and Brothers, Burnley and at Earby and Gargrave, cotton spinners. {formed by} Christopher Bracewell, Henry Bracewell, Jane Bracewell and John Ramsden Redman, executors of Edmund Smith Bracewell deceased. Dissolved from December 1881. Partnership formed 1st May 1877.] It looks as though Henry and Christopher diverged at this point. My guess is that Henry Bracewell formed his own company in 1881 because his firm, Henry Bracewell Ltd is noted in Barrett for 1896 as Albion Mill and Old Shed (this was the original Bracewell Mill at Green End) Earby. Henry also had a continuing interest in the Airebank Mill at Gargrave. In Barrett 1902 Henry Bracewell Ltd is noted as Albion Shed, Earby. Henry died in 1891 but this wouldn’t necessarily mean the demise of the firm. Doreen Crowther has a confused entry for a Herbert Bracewell born 1828 and building the Manor house at Thornton. I have no evidence of any children for Henry but suspect this was his son.


In the Craven Herald 29/11/1929 there was an article based on an interview with John Bailey who was born in 1819 at Bawhead, near Earby. He started as a bobbin winder and then HLW at home but then got started in the grocery business and amassed capital. He was one of the instigators of the Earby Shed Company which built Albion Shed in 1890. The mill was built on Selcroft (Seal Croft) This was part of School Farm which he had bought. Supported by John Bailey, members of his family started trading in Grove Shed as Bailey, Watson and Berry. In 1896 John Bailey built Spring Mill in Earby. Mr. Irving Berry, who was one of the partners at Grove bought a shed at Foulridge and left Spring Mill in the control of C W Bailey Ltd.

For much of interest about Waterloo Mill see ‘Vikings at Waterloo’ by David S Brooks. Pub. 1997 by the Rolls Royce Heritage Trust. This describes the history of the Rover Company and the development of the Whittle jet engine at Waterloo Mill from 1940 to 1943. Rolls Royce took over after that. The book contains useful maps and plans of the 1930 location and mill. Brooks states that Waterloo was built in 1858 as a spinning Mill and was known to the locals as ‘The back factory’. It closed as a cotton mill in the 1930s. at that time it was 24,000 square feet and was run by Messrs. Duckworth and Eddlestone as a weaving shed.

In ‘A Family of Companies’ published by Johnson and Johnson in 1999 it is stated that J&J opened the Slough plant in 1924 and in 1933/34 they bought Airebank Mill at Gargrave and moved their manufacturing division there. ‘Shortly afterwards’ they formed Johnson and Johnson Fabrics Ltd and ‘took over the cooperative’ at Earby. From my own research, when the Nutter Brothers interests collapsed in Earby in 1932, their representative Percy Lowe stepped in and organized the weavers in Victoria Mill and Sough Bridge into self-help units c.1935/36 J&J bought out the self-help operation at Victoria and Percy Lowe was appointed weaving manager. Nutter and Co.(Kelbrook) Ltd was still weaving in 1938 as self-help with H Lord as secretary. Rover took over the mill in 1940 and in 1945 Bristol Tractors moved in after Rover withdrew.

Presumably the dissolution of the 1877 partnership resulted in Christopher Bracewell and Sons being formed. This entity retained control of Victoria Mill which had 600 looms and 36,000 spindles. From here until 1885 there were some troubled times in Christopher’s business interests and family. Cotton trading conditions were not good and there are reports of fire at the mill.

On the home front things were getting slightly complicated. Christopher Bracewell (b.1818) married Susannah Elizabeth Whitaker in 1852. Her parents lived and farmed in Thornton in Craven. She died 6 months after Elizabeth Ann was born in 1855. In 1858 he married Mary Hopwood and they had five children. However, in 1839 John Speak, a shoemaker, and Elizabeth Bradley had an illegitimate daughter who was christened Ann Bradley. She was reared by her grandmother Mary Speak, widow of John Speak, weaver and farm labourer of Thornton in Craven, who made a living by baking bread. Mary must have been a good woman because she reared three grandchildren.

In 1851 Ann Bradley, at the age of 12, was working in the Bracewell household at Green End, Earby as a nurse. This was before Christopher married Susannah Whitaker so it seems there must have been other children in the house. Ann was a red-head and was reputed to be spoilt and wilful after being reared by her grandmother. Whatever the truth in this she was a strict Wesleyan all her life and sang in the chapel choir. She must have caught Christopher’s eye because in 1870 she had a child, Florence Bracewell by him. Christopher got her out of town and she went either to the Isle of Wight or Manchester. I favour Manchester because in 1875 she had a second child, Reginald Bracewell who was registered in Liverpool. On the 31st of March 1881 the census records her as living at 71 St Bees Street, Moss Side, Manchester with her two children and a servant, Mary Jones 18 years old who was born in Rhyl, North Wales. The assumption is that Christopher was keeping her and his children in modest luxury. As we will see below, Christopher was doing some very serious thinking about his future at this time and Ann Battersby, a considerable expert on the Bracewells who provided a lot of this information suspects that Mary Hopwood may have found out about Ann Bradley. Whatever, in October/November 1881 Ann and her family set sail on the Orient Line ship the SS Cotopaxi for Australia and settled in Victoria only to return in 1882. [The Cotopaxi was built in 1873 and between 1880 and 1882 was on the Orient Line Australia service. Registered tonnage, 4,022.] I’m not sure where Ann lived when she came back but there seems to have been a Cheshire connection.

Meanwhile, back at the mill in Earby Christopher is laying plans to leave the country. I have a lot of sympathy for Ann’s theory about pressure from Mary Hopwood. Even if she didn’t know (and I suspect she must have) my experience of these matters is that they cannot remain secret. In a closed and somewhat intolerant community, especially at Chapel, Mary must have felt very uncomfortable. Whatever the truth in this I have several references to transfers and sales of property starting in 1877. I don’t pretend to fully understand these, all I can do at the moment is report them.

On 20th of August 1877 there is a conveyance of property in Earby from Christopher to Henry Bracewell. I suspect this is the transfer of Old Shed at Green End and perhaps other property as part of the process of forming the new partnership of Christopher Bracewell and Brothers after the dissolving of the original Bracewell Brothers partnership. Whatever the property was, Henry in turn conveyed it to Dyson Mallinson on the 8th of September 1877. (Mallinson was described in 1888 as a cotton broker of Granville Buildings, Tithebarn Street, Liverpool. He was a son in law of Christopher.) In 1885 when Christopher leaves for Colorado a Mr. Mallinson is noted as carrying on the interests at Victoria mill supported by Walter Bracewell. On the 14th of September 1888 Dyson Mallinson conveyed his title to ‘All those freehold mills and hereditaments of Dyson Mallinson in Earby, then in mortgage to Thomas Riley of Ewood Hall, Mytholmroyd, dated 28th October 1887 whereby the repayment of a sum of £8,800 was assured.’ The conveyance was to the Rev. Joel Mallinson of Edgerton near Huddersfield as security for a loan of £4,800. Following this trail, on 15th November 1890 John Henry Hanson of Huddersfield bought the Bracewell properties for £8,200. On 20th November he sold the same property to The Earby Mill Company for £9,500. On 24th November 1890 there is a mortgage to The Mill Company of £8,000 from Joel Mallinson (and other mortgages in later docs. Looks like the Earby Mill Co financing the purchase by mortgage back to the vendor.) GS information is that the partners in the Mill Company in later years were J W&W Thompson of Trafalgar Mill, Burnley who went into partnership with Messrs. Pemberton as Thompson, Pemberton and Co. This partnership seems to have bought out the interest of the Earby Mill Company and formed the Victoria Mill Company as a room and power company. During WW2 the main partners in the Mill Company were Captain Smith of Thornton in Craven and his brother in law Mr. Jacques. (A Mr. Jacques was also a director of the Calf Hall Shed Company.) When the engine shaft broke in 1954 the Victoria Mill Company was still the owner and it was being run as a room and power company for them by Proctor and Proctor of Grimshaw Street, Burnley. They were accountants and specialized in managing shed companies.

There is a report in the Craven Herald of 23/01/1931 of the death of T Smith (73) of Colne Road. He was the manager of the Victoria Spinning Mill when it was owned by the late Mr. Dugdale, he succeeded his father in law, Mr. Moorhouse in the job. It was during Mr. Moorhouse’s tenure that the mill was destroyed by fire putting many Earby people out of work. I think this refers to the Victoria Spinning and Manufacturing Company which I think was the company which Walter Bracewell ran with his brother Robert in Victoria Mill after his father Christopher left for America. See Barrett Directory 1887.

To go back to Christopher and his troubles in the 1880s. In Spring 1885 Christopher’s son Willy(? No record of him) left Earby for Colorado. The Craven Herald 21/02/1885 reports that Bracewell’s mills at Earby are running on short time ‘due to the continuing depression’. This lasted about three weeks, they were back on full time in March. The Craven Herald 22/08/1885 contains an advertisement by John Hogg stating that he has instructions to sell the contents of Green End Earby. It was a three day sale and included the contents of eight bedrooms, a 400 volume library, three carriages, silver mounted harness and all the household effects. The house was not included in the sale. In the same CH there is a report that Christopher Bracewell, his wife Mary and three of the children, Christopher William, Caroline and Edgar had left last Tuesday for Colorado. They travelled in company with James and Margaret McCullough of Burnley. Walter Hopwood Bracewell and Robert W, his eldest son, stay in Earby to manage the family business in partnership with Christopher’s son in law, Mr. Mallinson. (Victoria Spinning and Manufacturing Co.?) Christopher never returned. He settled in Colorado near Greeley. Mary Hopwood died 20/12/1891 of heart failure. Her will dated 8/12/1891 left 2/3 of her estate to Christopher William and 1/3 to Edgar Herbert Bracewell and nothing to her husband. Christopher William bought Edgar’s portion of the estate on 14/02/1893.

Ann Bradley, Christopher’s former mistress arrived in Greeley and she and Christopher were married on the 15th of June 1893. They had 11 years together before Christopher died on 26th October 1904. Ann eventually sold up in Greeley and went to live with her son Reginald in Australia where he had migrated in the 1890s. She died on 5th December 1913 in Perth, Western Australia and is buried in the Wesleyan Cemetery there.

Walter and Robert carried on in Earby but the Bracewell glory days were over. It’s time we stepped back again and looked at the Bracewell Brothers of Coates.

William (b1756) of Coates is mentioned in 1808 as ‘calico manufacturer’ of Barnoldswick so I think we are safe in assuming he built the water twist mill at Old Coates. His son William (b.1782) seems to have gone to Barrowford to live in his wife’s community on his marriage in 1814 and I have found no evidence of his direct involvement in textiles in Barnoldswick. However, his sons definitely got bitten by the bug and their development and final fall from grace was entirely in Barnoldswick.

William was born at Coates in 1782, the son of William Bracewell and Mary Thornber. He married Mary Grimshaw on 27th June 1814 and they had six children: Mary, 17th Jan 1815, Grace, 1816. William, 1818. Sarah, 4 June 1820. Thomas 1822 and Christopher 1825. In 1824 he was noted as being a maltster in Barrowford and by 1827 was dead. Mary Bracewell is noted in Slater 1871 as living in Whittycroft at Barrowford, the house she was born in. She carried on in business as a maltster after marriage but later this business is run by Grimshaw and Bracewell. This name is associated with cotton manufacturing at Higherford Mill.

The three sons, William, Thomas and Christopher worked as partners. On the face of it they were in an ideal situation, they had large land holdings at Coates through which flowed the Butts/Stock beck. This watercourse was the exit from the town of all the water flowing down from the Weets to the west of the town and was therefore the biggest and most reliable source of waterpower available. There is evidence that their grandfather, William of Coates 1756-1830 built a small water powered twist mill on the site in 1803 and traded as a calico manufacturer in Barlick. Therefore, this enterprise was well established 30 years before William (Billycock) came to the town in 1835. By 1850 the brothers had enlarged Old Coates mill which had been improved with extra space, weaving, a steam engine and its own gas supply for lighting. They also had looms in Mitchell’s mill, later called Clough Mill after Slater bought it in 1867.

By 1870 Old Coates was derelict, it had passed into the ownership of a man called Nuttall but he was unable to restart it and it was demolished completely in 1892. Note that this was at a time when Billycock’s interests were booming. It is salutary to note that Craven Herald Dec 11th 1886 asks what will happen if the contents of Barnoldswick cess pools are dumped on the fields of Messrs William and Thomas Bracewell’s two farms at Calf Hall. William Bracewell’s land drains into Calf Hall Beck and Thomas’s into Moses Lee Beck and hence to Gillians and Barnoldswick. In LRO Preston. UDBk 8/1. 19/4. Noted that on March 17th 1891 William and Thomas Bracewell apply for the contract to scavenge the Townhead division at £42 and the Central division at £45. A later updated copy contract indicates that they scavenged the whole town for £132 per annum. I’ve always thought that this was particularly telling. Cousin William is producing the waste and William and Thomas are sweeping up behind him.

The point is, what had happened? At about the same time that the brothers failed Mitchell’s mill changed hands, Slater buying it in 1867. The Cotton Famine had hit the smaller manufacturers hard. I have a suspicion also that the three brothers were not the toughest men in the world. They don’t seem to have put up too much of a fight. Anecdotal evidence says ‘they were middling businessmen’. They had a problem in that their mill was out of date and inefficient. It can be argued that this was exactly the position John Slater was in at Mitchell’s Mill but he survived. I think the difference was that Slater actively experimented with alternative staple, wool. He was weaving coloured cloth as well. Another major factor was that he wasn’t facing the active opposition William (Billycock) who was manipulating the supply of water to Old Coates and rendered it unviable. He did this by buying the Corn Mill which was above Old Coates on the same watercourse. He diverted water to his new mill at Wellhouse from there and made sure that when it ran to waste it was below Old Coates Dam and useless to his cousins. I suspect he might also have done things like allow the corn Mill dam to run to waste during the time Old Coates wasn’t working and hold back the flow when they needed it by filling the lodge again. Whatever the detail of the strategies he employed, the effect was that by 1860 the cousins manufacturing interests were broken and even when Nuttall bought Old Coates, it was not viable because of water shortage, his answer was to build a new Coates Mill using the canal for condenser water. In 1860 Thomas Bracewell is reported as bankrupt.

From this point on the Coates branch of the family scatter or sink into relative obscurity. It looks as though William and Thomas reverted to farming at Calf Hall and made a living where they could. The situation isn’t helped by the proliferation of Williams, Christophers and Thomases in both branches of the family. To make things even more difficult, remember that we have traced one single line of descent from William of Salterforth in 1595. There are of course many more, there are 22 Williams alone between 1595 and 1838 that I know of. The bottom line is that we will never get the whole lineage accurately sorted.

Looking at the whole sweep of the Bracewells over the 300 years from 1600 in Salterforth to 1900 in Barlick I can’t help noting that while the Green End and Newfield Edge Bracewells had the greatest success, they also had the worst fall. The Bracewell Brothers of Coates failed in cotton manufacturing but retained their lands at Coates until 1865 and sold them for their own benefit. In a strange way they were, in the long run, the most successful branch of the three. I have to say I’m glad because the impression I get is that they were by far the nicest men.

{A quotation from Francis Bacon that applies: ‘Virtue is to success as a baggage train to an army, a hindrance on the march, but essential to the campaign.’}

SCG/30 November 2003 [Edited and revised 30/04/2016]


Stanley Challenger Graham
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Re: BRACEWELL HISTORY IN BARLICK

Post by Stanley » 30 Apr 2016, 04:25

I have done a bit of editing on this piece which is well worth a read I think. Lots of peripheral stuff in it.
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"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
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