|Burnley...a Cotton Mill Town|
COTTON weaving and spinning was Burnley's staple industry for almost 200 years.
Without cotton, Burnley as we know it, may never have existed, and in it's heyday it became the cotton manufacturing capital of the world. Over 140 mills once operated in the town, and at the peak of the cotton industry in 1929, 63 per cent of the town's working population worked in some capacity at one of the mills in the town.
Husbands, wives, sons and daughters often worked together at the looms, although children under nine were forbidden to work under an Act of 1833. The mill owners got round that by hiding the under-aged in sacks, should word get around that an inspector was on tour in the area!
By 1875 the hours of work for the mill and factory workers were reduced to 56 a week, and at the turn of the 19th century, the mill engine was stopped on Saturday lunchtime. The 45-hour week was introduced in 1945.
And so here is the Bancroft connection to this story.....William Bancroft was born on 19th April 1823 in the Keighley Parish area, known as Ponden, near the village of Stanbury and was baptised on 22nd July of that year at Haworth Parish Church, which was geographically nearer to where the family lived than the Keighley Parish Church. His parents were Abraham and Hannah [ne: Mitchell] Bancroft and he was one of seven children.
The young William was shown as working in a worsted factory at the time of the 1841 census. Within a year his father Abraham had also died , aged about 42 years,leaving the remaining family of now only four children to fend for themselves....three of the siblings having died at an early age.
|Palatine Square circa 1900|
His obituary in the local newspaper was as follows:
'We regret to announce the death of Mr William Bancroft, which took place early yesterday morning at his residence of 175 Colne Road. No one will be surprised at this, when they consider that he arrived at the ripe old age of 81 years. He was a man who had been well known and highly respected for more than half a century. Formally, and until reaching old age, he was a cotton manufacturer. He was a trusted executor of the late William Halstead, and had handled the administration of his estate, which involved a great deal of characteristic enterprise. No one who knew Mr Bancroft, would have the slightest misgivings as to his ability and honour. Faithfulness characterised his conduct. He had been associated with the Colne Road Wesleyan Chapel, and was a trustee for probably at least 25 years.He was always kindly, and received kindness from all quarters. With his death, there is removed from Burnley one of it's oldest citizens. He is survived by his wife.'
His wife Elizabeth, died on the 17th August 1907.
The mill, which is still situated in Elm St. Burnley, was originally owned by John Hurtley and Son - cotton spinners and manufacturers, who were operating from this mill from around 1868 to 1879. From this date it's name changed to William Bancroft and Co. Ltd., cotton manufacturers, and continued to operating at the mill under that name till about 1923, even though William had long since ceased to have any involvment with the business.At it's hight the mill was shown to be operating 228 looms. From about 1912, the mill building was shown as 'New Hall Mill' on all the maps of the area in addition to a second New Hall Mill further up Elm Street. In the mid 1940s, John Walton and Son Ltd., cotton manufacturers were operating at the mill.
|North Bridge Mill|
The mill is now part of the North Bridge complex, a group of small commercial units. North Bridge Mill consisted of a three storied sandstone spinning mill, with a smaller four storied apex section. Modern additions are to the rear, with a small weaving shed and warehousing on the Daneshouse Road side.