THE SLATER FAMILY IN BARNOLDSWICK.

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THE SLATER FAMILY IN BARNOLDSWICK.

Post by Stanley » 20 Apr 2012, 13:02

THE SLATER FAMILY IN BARNOLDSWICK.
The Slater family’s involvement in textiles is an essential element of the history of the industry in Barnoldswick. Indeed, their acquisition of Mitchell’s Mill and hence the provision of space for very small manufacturers to start up in trade during the time when William Bracewell of Newfield Edge was strangling all opposition in the town was the crucial breeding ground for virtually all the firms that participated in the post-Bracewell boom. This being the case, it is as well to get as firm a grasp on the family’s history as possible. Here is my best shot in November 2003.

Barnoldswick in 1800
In terms of our story of the Slater role in the textile industry in Barlick there are two basic assumptions we can make. There is evidence in the Land and Widow Tax rolls for Barlick that there were Slaters in Barlick during the 18th century. They are not one of the families who parachuted into the town when the textile industry became a major opportunity for economic advancement. Secondly, there was a domestic textile industry in place, not necessarily cotton but spinning and weaving was a source of income and basic textile skills were common. The trigger for the explosion of the textile industry which started the development from a domestic hand work system to the full-blown steam industry was the advent of the technology to spin cotton twist strong enough to be used as warp thread by water power, the Arkwright water frame.

It is perhaps a mistake to assume that this technology arrived in the town with the breaking of the Arkwright patents. Historians of the textile industry usually place the date 14 November 1785 on this event but in fact the attacks on Arkwright’s patents in the courts had started in 1781. I have a strong suspicion that the fact that there was strong opposition to the validity of the patents encouraged piracy of the process. I have very good evidence that Abraham Hargreaves of Barrowford was buying spinning machinery from Keighley in 1783/84 and had his mill in production well before the patens were finally overturned. I have no evidence that this was the case in Barnoldswick but make the point that we cannot exclude it when looking at the early water-powered industry in the town.

Whatever the precise date of arrival, we are safe in assuming that water-powered twist spinning was possible in Barlick in 1800. There was a domestic hand loom weaving industry demanding cheaper and better twist and skilled labour was available. Add to this that there was general economic depression and the community was ripe for a new opportunity, water power sites were available and there was sufficient capital in the town to initiate growth and we have all the ingredients we need for our story.

The availability and sources of capital.
There were wealthy families in the area at the end of the 18th c but they seemed to be pre-occupied in preserving the status quo. Any entrepreneurial activities they engaged in were more likely to be connected with exploiting limestone quarrying or management of land. I can find no evidence that they participated in the new water powered textile industry at all.

In the case of the Slaters, their capital comes from a variety of sources. John Slater (1806) who was possibly the most important of the Slaters in terms of textiles made his money in a variety of ways. He had a grocer’s shop at 28 Barnoldswick Lane, operated as a carrier and stemming from that enterprise sold coal and operated a small cotton manufacturing business putting out to HLW as far afield as Austwick and Grindleton. He had a ‘dandy shop’ on Barnoldswick Lane with 14 looms and must have employed bobbin winders as well.

Robert Slater (1809) also had a grocer’s shop. In the 1851 census he is noted as teas dealer of Castle View. This is the shop at the end of Crow Row which Mrs Brown had in the 1950s. His son James (1844) took the shop over, all the other sons went into the mill and never made a mark as manufacturers. However, Edward (1841) went into Wellhouse Mill and had an accident in which he lost his arm. He started a business up selling bibles with his brother Ralph and was successful, he died in 1885. Ralph was a bread baker in 1851 but selling ‘Stationery’ in 1861. The intriguing thing about this is that two lads living at Townhead at the same time, James Nutter and Thomas Slater Edmondson went off together selling bibles and by 1887 Slater’s directory reports the Firm of Nutter and Edmondson as manufacturers in Barlick. They started in Coates Mill but by about 1887 were in Clough Mill. James’ Father was a farm labourer and Thomas’s was a cut-looker. Neither of these men was born with a silver spoon in their mouths but made their initial capital selling bibles.

None of Robert’s sons reached wealth and do not figure in the record of the Slater family and manufacturing.


The Slaters and Mitchell’s Mill.
The profits from John Slater’s enterprises must have been sizeable because we know for certain that by the mid 1850s John had looms in Mitchell’s Mill and also had an interest in a silk mill at Galgate near Lancaster. The evidence for the latter is concrete and comes from notes in the diary of the Manager of the Craven Bank at Skipton which he made when John went to him to borrow the money to buy Mitchell’s Mill in 1867. He borrowed £3,000, an enormous sum in those days, and by November 1867 had paid it all back. He died in 1867 and his sons Joseph, Henry, Thomas, Clayton and James. They traded as John Slater and Sons and were very successful. I think that this was largely due to the fact that during the Cotton Famine they followed their father’s policy of diversifying into different staples and coloured work as well. Perhaps this was due to John’s association with silk manufacture at Galgate. There are other examples of the successful use of this strategy. The Rickards at Bell Busk mill survived and prospered with an isolated country mill by doing exactly the same thing.

As is so often the case, success didn’t necessarily bring harmony to the brothers. There is evidence of tensions building up inside the partnership and eventually this led to schisms. The most dramatic and final of these was the case of Clayton Slater. He seems to have been a fairly fiery individual, there is a mention of him being fined £5 for assaulting Levi Widdup after they had seen him allowing his donkey to graze on his father’s grave. In 1880 Clayton migrated to Canada taking his machinery with him. This resulted in the closure of the new weaving shed the partnership had built in 1868. He drops out of our story completely from this point.

In 1881 James Slater withdrew from the partnership and in partnership with McFarlane Widdup ran 144 looms at Clough Mill. From the number of looms I would say that this was one complete floor of the old four storey section of the mill, originally Mitchell’s Mill. The partnership with Widdup didn’t last long and James carried on alone until 1889 when he moved to Salterforth Shed with 216 looms. This was the start of James Slater and Sons (Salterforth).

The three remaining brothers carried on trading at Clough as J Slater and Sons but there was to be further diversification of interests. In 1886 Henry Slater is mentioned as having one £500 share in the new shed at Long Ing proposed by the Long Ing Shed Company. When the engine was christened it was named after two of his daughters, Lizzie and Minnie. Lizzie had married Robinson Brooks who was also a shareholder in the new company and moved his looms from Clough to Long Ing in 1889 making the number up to 400. Minnie married a cousin, Edward Slater who was also a shareholder in the new company. Henry’s third son, Joseph, married Ada Whitaker Bracewell the heiress to William Bracewell’s personal fortune and moved into Newfield Edge with her. He remained a director in the partnership at Clough until his death in 1926. I have no definite evidence about Joseph and Thomas but assume that they remained in the family firm. Henry’ sons Richard Carr Slater, Joseph and Fred Harry all remained with J Slater and Sons until just before WW2.

Slaters at Wellhouse.
One of the traps for the researcher when looking at the Slaters in Barlick is to assume that the Slaters at Wellhouse were connected with the Slaters who were running Clough. In a sense they are because I am convinced they are branches of the same family but haven’t found the connection yet.

A Hartley Slater pops up in the 1881 census living on Clough Terrace with his wife Jane Whitaker and children; Ellen, Edwin, John and Mary. Slater E&J had 80 looms at Wellhouse, CHSCMB, 18/11/1896. Hartley is mentioned in CHSCMB 25/01/1899 as connected with Slater Brothers (Barnoldswick) Ltd who had room and power at Wellhouse Shed. Edwin was the representative for Slater Brothers (Barnoldswick) Ltd. Barrett 1902 notes him as connected to Slater Brothers and living on Rook Street. Slater Brothers are still at Wellhouse in 1903, see CHSCMB 1/07/1903. M/c Royal Exchange Directory 1912 notes Edwin Slater as rep. for Slater Brothers at Wellhouse Mill. This was an entirely separate firm from John Slater and Sons at Clough.

Slaters and Long Ing Shed Company.
Henry Slater’s children included two daughters, Elizabeth born 1864 and Minnie born in 1869. Lizzie married Robinson Brooks who used to weave at Clough but in 1889 moved down into the first extension at Long Ing Shed. He was one of the original shareholders, however, this Slater connection could be missed if it wasn’t realized he had married a Slater. Minnie Slater married a cousin, Edward Slater. I don’t know what his ancestry was, the only reference I have is to an Edward Slater as being a joiner in Barlick at the right time. This source of capital fits well with where the capital was coming from that fuelled the post Bracewell boom in mill building in Barlick. When the Barnsey Shed Company was formed in 1911 to build the new shed at Long Ing it was known as ‘Pots and Pans’, a reference to the fact that it was the retail trades in Barlick that financed it. This is entirely understandable because by that time the ‘old cotton’ money had been invested in other sheds. The engine at Long Ing was christened ‘Lizzie and Minnie’.

James Slater and Salterforth Shed.
As we noted above, James Slater was one of the original partnership of brothers running John Slater and Sons at Clough Mill. In 1881 he withdrew from the partnership and went into partnership with McFarlane Widdup and ran 144 looms at Clough in the old multi-storey mill. By 1889 he was on the move again to Salterforth where he started as a tenant with 216 looms. James eventually became the owner of Salterforth Mill. He lived at Moorfield at Coates and all seemed well until bad luck struck the family. John seems to have declined the family business and went to live in Skipton. Henry went blind and retired to Hest Bank at Morecambe. There was a fire at the mill in March 1929 and Percy died at 43 years old in October 1929 before his father. James sold Salterforth Mill to a Manchester firm, one of his nephews, James L Slater stayed on as manager. Craven Herald, 17/04/1931 reported the death of James Slater at Moorfield, Coates, he was 87. At one time James lived at Bank House, the mansion on the hill at Coates built by Christopher George Bracewell, now demolished.

Other connections.
There are undoubtedly Slater connections with other mills and textile families that I haven’t found yet. Henry (1831) had one £500 share in the Long Ing Shed Company. Joseph Slater (1862) was an investor and director with the Calf Hall Shed Company, at his death in 1926 he was the vice-chairman. Fred Harry Slater was a founding director of the Westfield Shed Company and a past director of the Long Ing Shed Company. One further interesting connection needs to be noticed. Joseph Slater (1862), son of Henry (1831) married William Bracewell’s heiress, Ada Whitaker Bracewell. James Nutter‘s daughter Eliza Jane married John Slater.

Conclusion.
I am sure there is much more to uncover in the Slater family but I am leaving them for the moment as I feel I have got the essential linkages and connections within the textile industry fairly well ordered. Perhaps their biggest contribution as a family was getting control of Mitchell’s Mill in 1867 and resisting the Bracewell pressures before 1885. By doing this they ensured that there was a breeding ground for the budding entrepreneurs fighting to get a toe hold in the industry. Pickles, Nutters, Brooks, Edmondsons, Widdups and others founded their fortunes there. Once we have made these connections we can start to make sense of future developments.

SCG/December 4, 2003
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Re: THE SLATER FAMILY IN BARNOLDSWICK.

Post by Wendyf » 02 Nov 2012, 09:13

The Earby History Society has had a bundle of documents donated, some of which relate to the Slater family in Barnoldswick. There are deeds relating to property in Barnoldswick, a copy of a will made by John Slater in 1867, accounts for Estate Duty chargeable on the death of Susannah Widdup (Wife of Macfarlane Widdup, but a Slater by birth), a 1907 indenture between Macfarlane Widdup & John Slater, and probate for James Slater 1931.
There are also deeds dating from 1785 for Flass & Brown Hill, Brogden. Names mentioned include Hargreaves, Dean, Cook & Carr. Includes a 1798 copy of a marriage record for Martha Dean & James Cook.
I will be putting further details on the history society website soon, but the documents are available for research purposes in our Heritage Room at the New Road Community Centre.

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Re: THE SLATER FAMILY IN BARNOLDSWICK.

Post by Stanley » 03 Nov 2012, 07:08

A good addition to a fertile subject of study. The more I learn about the manufacturers in Barlick the more I realise how complicated the linkages (and rivalries) were. I think I might leave the field open to future generations of historians......
Wendy, feel free to make linkages on your site to any of my research, it may save some time. I claim no rights to any of it. The Bracewell stuff is a case in point, the Earby and Barlick branches are inextricably entwined and very important.
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Re: THE SLATER FAMILY IN BARNOLDSWICK.

Post by Wendyf » 01 Mar 2013, 14:32

We have just had a small photograph album once belonging to the Slater family donated to the history society. It contains a number of photos of family and houses taken either late 19th or early 20th century. Some are of Bank House, including internal ones showing the family at the dining table and relaxing in comfy chairs. There are photos of Galgate, Tubber Hill and one of Moses Lee Farm.
Available in the Earby Heritage Room if any one wants a look.

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Re: THE SLATER FAMILY IN BARNOLDSWICK.

Post by Stanley » 02 Mar 2013, 06:06

The mention of Galgate grabs me Wendy. In his private diary, Robinson, the manager of the Craven Bank notes that John Slater had an interest in a silk mill at Galgate when he applied to the bank for the loan to buy Mitchell's Mill.
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Re: THE SLATER FAMILY IN BARNOLDSWICK.

Post by Wendyf » 02 Mar 2013, 08:39

These items have been donated by someone with a connection to the Slaters of Salterforth Mill, so together with the the family pics being taken at Bank House is it likely the album belonged to James Slater's family?
I'll have another look next week to see what the Galgate photos show. There are other photos of a house that looks slightly foreign with a large wooden balcony, but I'm wondering now if it could be Morecambe.

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Re: THE SLATER FAMILY IN BARNOLDSWICK.

Post by Stanley » 03 Mar 2013, 06:30

I've sent you my Slater PAF files, they may be of interest....
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Re: THE SLATER FAMILY IN BARNOLDSWICK.

Post by Wendyf » 03 Mar 2013, 11:01

Thanks Stanley, I've downloaded the PAF software and am trying to understand how it all works. (When I should be out in the garden!)

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Re: THE SLATER FAMILY IN BARNOLDSWICK.

Post by Stanley » 04 Mar 2013, 05:45

Just tell it to open the .zip file and play with it. Good programme.... but only available for Windows.
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Re: THE SLATER FAMILY IN BARNOLDSWICK.

Post by Stanley » 08 Sep 2016, 04:20

Bumped after David's question about the Slaters.
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Re: THE SLATER FAMILY IN BARNOLDSWICK.

Post by Julie in Norfolk » 08 Sep 2016, 06:39

Thanks Stanley, I remember seeing this before, I will take time to re-read tonight.
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Re: THE SLATER FAMILY IN BARNOLDSWICK.

Post by David Whipp » 08 Sep 2016, 07:05

Thanks Stanley.

I may well have read this before - but am afraid it's in one eye and out of the other with me...

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Re: THE SLATER FAMILY IN BARNOLDSWICK.

Post by Stanley » 09 Sep 2016, 04:15

I could expand it and correct a couple of minor errors, it's 13 years since I wrote it but on the whole best left alone.....
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