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Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.


Post by Stanley » 07 Jul 2018, 02:20


It's September 1940 and Bernard Smith, the chief buyer for the Rover Company who is looking for safe premises out of range of enemy bombers has just moved headquarters to the Black Horse in Skipton and it was there that an informant told him about a 165,000 square foot cotton mill in good condition which had been bought by British Celanese. This was Bankfield Shed in Barnoldswick. He learned that there were other empty mills in the area and went to have a look.
The requisition order for Bankfield was signed on the 25th of September 1940 and in quick succession Rover also took Sough Bridge Mill and Grove Shed in Earby, Calf Hall Shed and Butts Mill in Barlick and Carleton Mill at Skipton. Bracewell Hall was taken over for admin and offices. By the end of 1940 Waterloo Mill at Clitheroe had been taken over as well.
Some of you may remember Eddie Spencer, the man who lived in my house before I did. He originally worked for Rover in Coventry as a service fitter on aero engines and was in Coventry the night of the blitz of November 20th 1940 when the city got knocked to bits. Here is what he told me; "The first we knew about it was when six of us, Bill Tilsley, Jimmy Johnson, Sid Shaw, Cyril Galby, Les Banks and myself were told to get ourselves up to a place called Barnoldswick and start working. A bus was laid on to take us but Les and I went up in his Singer Bantam car and after many adventures in the dark with no maps, signposts or street lighting and a slipping clutch into the bargain we arrived outside Bankfield Shed in the early hours of the morning". He and his mates were billeted in the Vicarage and in the end he stayed here and married. He told me about the early days as they got organised, as you can imagine it was very much catch as catch can at first but they soon settled in. That would have been the end of it, Barlick as a Rover town but there was a joker in the pack.
Rover had an association with a man called Frank Whittle who was developing a new type of engine for aircraft but things weren't going well. Rover hadn't enough expertise in aero engines to make the most of him. A man called Ernest Hives (Later Lord Hives) was in charge of Rolls Royce and he was convinced that they could do better. There was a meeting in the Swan with Two Necks at Clitheroe between Hives and the Wilks brothers and the upshot was that Rolls swapped a tank engine factory for Bankfield and took over. The rest is history and that's how Rolls came to Barlick.
What interests me is that it was bureaucracy that made all this possible so the next time you are dreading a battle with a jobsworth remember that at times they did good!


The RB211 engine. RB stands for Rolls Barnoldswick.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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