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Post by Stanley » 22 Apr 2012, 08:38



Shiloh to-day is a group of four mills - Elk, Park, Roy and Sandy. All situated within two miles of the centre of Royton, they are the survivors of a group of 14 mills at one time known locally as the Gartside group, initially owned by eight independent spinning companies, but now with contraction and re-organization under the ownership of Shiloh Spinners Ltd.

This is a story typical of many others in the Lancashire cotton industry but is in some respects unusual. Typical in that these mills have suffered the ups and downs of three wars and countless textile crises both major and minor. Unusual in that against the general trend the group has survived and maintained its independence against all the odds when most other spinners have either gone to the wall or become part of the giant textile combines.

Today's Chairman is Edmund Gartside. His grandfather, the remarkable T. E. (Tommy) Gartside, took the first step over 100 years ago that led to three generations of intimate family connections with cotton textiles. Like previous Chairmen, Edmund has no reason to regret keeping to the same, sometimes fiercely independent, path.

Cotton is an 'up one day, down the next' trade. This was a lesson well learned in the hard school that reduced the Gartside mills from fourteen to four, and their one million spindles to something like 120,000. But concentration, allied to new productivity criteria, has brought its own rewards.

The story is a tribute to all those who have played a part, however small, in shaping the history of this group of mills - to directors, staff and employees, shareholders, customers and suppliers, all of whom have helped to make the Shiloh story possible. Through them we live and prosper to-day, and to their memory and example we dedicate our future.

Royton April 1974

Chapter 1

Early Days

The story starts on February 17, 1874, when eleven Royton men of modest means met and decided to float a cotton spinning company. There could have been no more suitable place than Royton for this venture, for Royton boasts the first cotton mill in Lancashire - the Old Mill, Thorp Clough. Built in 1764 in the village of Thorp it was less than two miles away from Holden Fold, where these eleven Roytonians decided to build their new mill. They decided to call the new venture the Shiloh Spinning Company Ltd., named after an old wooden mill of the same name partially destroyed by fire which stood on the site they proposed to purchase.

No one knows the exact date of this old mill nor why it was called Shiloh. It is known to have been built before 1816 and it is thought to have been one of the first steam driven mills in the district.

In a community much devoted to chapel and Methodism, the name may have been chosen because it had good, honest biblical associations. More likely, however, the mill was called after the area in North America supplying the mill's first shipment of cotton. The new cottons from North America were just becoming popular at about that time, previously much of the cotton having come from the East, from Africa and the West Indies. Certainly the town of Shiloh in the U.S. is a cotton growing area and the battle of Shiloh in 1862, the second great battle of the American Civil War, was instrumental in starting the cotton famine of that time.

Without doubt, the eleven provisional directors could not have foreseen that the name would be perpetuated a century later on millions of T.V. screens through the popular American series, 'The Virginian', featuring Shiloh Ranch. For it was not until August 4, 1893 that another rather simpler communication aid became available and the directors of one of Shiloh's associated companies, Park & Sandy, passed a resolution after great deliberation "that we have a telephone".

Applications for shares in the new Shiloh Spinning Company were invited on March 14, 1874.

This was the period of flotation mania. Memories of the cotton famine of 1862-5 had receded. Lancashire was ready to build. Evidence was given before a Royal Commission in 1885 of thirty new cotton mill companies being floated within two months in 1874. The subscribers to these companies were local people, more often than not the workers themselves. Working people, from the days of early inventors, had played a prominent part in the development of the mills-in investment as well as in labour and mechanical terms. Often they risked their whole life savings by investing in mill stock or depositing their money in the loan accounts. Partially paid-up shares were the order of the day and investors never knew when there might be a further call on their shares. Many were placed in financial difficulties by a call they had not expected.

Loan accounts were a common feature of mill finance until well after the First World War. They were intended to cover primarily the cost of building and machinery, although holders had no prior charge on the assets of the company, and the sole guarantee was the character and standing of the promoters. Since both parties lived and worked in the locality, and the standing of the mills was common knowledge, the risk was more apparent than real. Indeed these loans had almost the character of gilt-edged and, at a time when the Post Office Savings Bank and National Savings were still unknown, to deposit money on loan at the mills was the obvious thing to do particularly as fixed amounts could be withdrawn on demand.

Shiloh was formally incorporated on April 29, 1874, with a capital of £30,000 in £5 shares. A plot of land was purchased known as Holden Fold, where the company's Head Office still stands to-day. The front parlour of a certain Abram Kent was rented as a temporary office at five shillings a week. The election of directors took place on May 2, 1874. Seven were chosen and the first chairman was Mr. Henry Lowe.

By mid - 1874 the enterprise was well and truly launched in a year that saw Disraeli enter his second term as Prime Minister, and the birth of one of Britain's greatest Prime Ministers, Winston Churchill. It was the neighbouring constituency of Oldham that launched the young Churchill on his parliamentary career and there were, no doubt, many Shiloh people in the crowd that welcomed the cavalcade of ten landaus in which, fresh from his Boer War exploits, he made his entry to the town to the tune of the conquering hero.

Shiloh took two years to build. Great thought went into the question of machinery. The choice was between Platt Bros. and Asa Lees, both of Oldham, with the latter finally securing the contract. The engine was installed in February 1876 after a great tussle with the supplier about the 'trade in' value of the engine in the old wooden mill.

By the spring of 1976 events had moved fast enough to warrant the appointment of overlookers and a mule overlooker and carder were appointed both at £2 a week, a good wage in those days.

Melladew & Clarke of Liverpool were appointed cotton brokers and so started a connection which has survived to this day. The mill finally got under way early in 1877.

The story of Shiloh's flotation, told in more detail in an earlier history, is typical of many mill formations that occurred during this period. Two other companies, later to become part of the Gartside group, were floated at about the same time; Royton Spinning Co. Ltd., in 1871, and Park & Sandy Lane Mills Co. Ltd., in 1875. Royton Spinning Company was one of the first, if not the first-joint liability company to be floated in Royton incorporated under the Companies Act of 1862. The directors of these early companies had strict rules about the conduct of their meetings. An early Park & Sandy minute book has the following rules for the Guidance of Directors:

"That the meeting of the board be held on Friday evenings at 7 o'clock, unless otherwise arranged. The roll to be called a quarter of an hour later and anyone not present at the time the roll is called be fined one shilling, and not present at a half hour after the time appointed for the meeting to be considered absent the whole of the evening, and be fined four shillings. Each member to be allowed to be absent once in each quarter without being fined."

Royton Spinning Company directors had similar rules. They were fined 3d if they were more than five minutes late for a meeting and three shillings if they missed one of their Monday night meetings completely. With directors' remuneration at only £4 per quarter during this period, it might have been considered a somewhat harsh penalty for an unavoidable absence.

By the mid-eighties Shiloh No. 1 mill was in full production with a capacity of some 26,000 spindles. There were nearly 100 employees and the question of an extension was being considered again, having been turned down by the shareholders by a resolution of September 21, 1883- "that the scheme for mill extension submitted by the board be not proceeded with at present".

Shiloh was spinning coarse yarns using mainly American and Indian cotton and the yarn was being sold direct to East Lancashire weavers who specialized in the production of the coarser cotton cloths then used extensively for household linens and other domestic purposes. At this time there were some 14 mills in the Royton area all doing much the same amount of business, sharing in the spells of short time working which were prevalent even in those days, and endeavouring to maintain a common front on questions of prices and wages.

An atmosphere of near-success persisted at Shiloh throughout the 1880's. Somehow successive profit and loss accounts never showed the results that were expected. Perhaps the directors left too much to their raw cotton brokers, the manager and the salesman. The various working committees of the board set up to co-ordinate activities proved ineffective. Spinning has always been a matter of fine margins and the only sure way to profits and solvency was to buy, spin and sell at the right price. What was wanted was one man who had the ability to deal with the three problems simultaneously.

That man appeared in the form of T. E. Gartside, who was appointed to the board in November 1891, resigned in 1894 to take over the combined duties of secretary and general manager of the company, was re-appointed to the board on March 24, 1903, as managing director; and finally became chairman in 1907.

T. E. (Tommy) Gartside

T. E. Gartside was a remarkable man who would have achieved success in almost any walk of life. Even before he arrived at Shiloh in 1894, he had already taken the first steps in building up what was to become a big cotton empire and which was to make him one of the most powerful men in the industry. He had already made his mark as company secretary of Royton Spinning Company and was auditor of Park & Sandy as early as November 1885.

Thomas Edmund Gartside was born in Royton in 1857. He received his early education at the Royton Wesleyan School, where he was charged one penny per subject per week. It is on record that his mother, whilst conceding that a penny a subject was reasonable enough for the three R's, considered it excessive for French and Latin.

Tommy probably left the Wesleyan School at 10 years of age and further education was a matter of his own choice. As his sole ambition was to get on in life, he joined the Temperance Seminary Evening Classes which were held in premises at the corner of Seminary Street and Sandy Lane, Royton. It was an establishment of self education where the older members taught the younger ones. The subjects, after elementary reading, writing and arithmetic, were double-entry book-keeping, poetry, botany and mathematics; it is known that Tommy concentrated on book-keeping and arithmetic to qualify him to take up secretary-ships in later years.

It is worthy of mention that there were several self educational classes held in Royton about this time. The Temperance Seminary gained national recognition when one of its members, a certain John Butterworth, a noted mathematician and self-educated, was engaged by the London North Eastern Railway to check the stresses and strains of the steel work on the new Forth railway bridge.

Tommy started work at the age of 12 as a check boy for the Royton Industrial Co-operative Society at their new shop in Middleton Road. His head shopman was George William Holden, of Oldham Rugby Club fame. Tommy's wage was 6s. a week-and for this he had to work a 69-hour week, his working hours being 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. dependent on the day of the week, with a half day on Tuesday. What would a modern trade unionist have said about that ?

He later became part-time secretary of the Royton Industrial Co-operative Society, a position he held for 19 years from 1876-1895.

His first job in cotton was as warehouse boy at the Mom's Mill, Luzley Brook, and then as an office boy at the Belgian Mills. Part of his duty was to weigh for the spinners and reelers and even in those days (1871) there was a shortage of operatives. In March 1873, at 16, he was appointed a junior clerk in the office at the Royton Spinning Co., his first position in the group of mills he was destined to run. Even at that age he showed the determination that was characteristic of his later life, for twice in 1874 he asked the directors for an increase in salary and twice the minutes record "that the application by T. E. Gartside for an advance of salary be not entertained".

He left to become a clerk to a local solicitor and spent the next few years in law. Following his love of change he became assistant clerk to the Oldham Guardians and retained that position for eight years before returning to the cotton trade. He re-joined Royton Spinning Company and was appointed secretary in 1889, a position he retained until joining Shiloh full time as general manager in 1894. It was at Royton Spinning Company that T. E. Gartside confessed he learnt his business and made his mistakes.

Shiloh remained his base from 1894 onwards until his death in 1941. It was from there that he built up his cotton empire by acting in conjunction with other local industrialists in floating companies and building mills whenever trade justified it-and often when it did not and whenever capital could be raised.


Years of his appointment to directorships and other positions in group:

Shiloh director 1891, general manager and secretary 1894, managing director 1903, chairman 1907. Park director and chairman 1904. Roy director and chairman 1919. Royton Spinning junior clerk 1873, company secretary 1889, director 1906, chairman 1923. Park & Sandy, auditor 1885, director 1899, vice-chairman 1906, chairman 1908. Holly, director 1890, vice-chairman 1899, chairman 1916. Vine, director 1897, chairman 1916. Grape, director and vice-chairman 1905, chairman 1916. He retained the chairmanship of all the above companies until his death in 1941.

Chapter 2

Building a Cotton Empire

By the turn of the century T. E. Gartside was on the board of four of the separate companies later to become part of his group-Shiloh, Holly, Park & Sandy, and Vine. Soon after he was also on the board of Park, Grape and Royton Spinning Company in 1904, 1905 and 1906 respectively. He was the prime mover in the flotation of Vine, Park and Grape, and a director from their incorporation. Curiously enough it was at Park, not Shiloh, that he acquired his first chairmanship. He became chairman of Park from the date of incorporation in 1904. Roy was the only mill in the group in which he was not involved from the early days, it was 1919, following the takeover of the company by a new syndicate, before he became a director and chairman. In terms of the building of mills, he was the driving force behind the construction of seven of the mills in the group and had a hand in floating four of the eight companies.

Royton Spinning Company (No. 1 Mill) was the first of the new mills to be built in the group. A plot of land between High Barn Street and Shaw Street was chosen, known as Dog Kennel Meadow, site of the kennels from nearby Royton Hall, at one time the home of Lord Byron's family. The ceremony of turning over the first sod took place on May 6, 1871, witnessed by a large number of people, and followed afterwards by tea for the directors and officials in the Temperance Seminary.

There was even greater jubilation when the corner stone of the new mill was laid on July 22, 1871. The ceremony was followed by "a procession round the village", the directors and officials being headed by Mr. J. Taylor, carrying the trowel, and Mr. J. Cooper, carrying the mallet. The event was widely advertised by coloured posters and culminated in a tea party and ball.

The mill, consisting of 50,000 spindles, was completed by the end of 1872 and production started with 60 operatives in January 1873.

Two mills, later to become part of the group, are thought to date from a similar or earlier period. One was the Park & Sandy Lane No. 1 mill owned by the Buckley family until purchased by the new Park & Sandy Lane Mills Co. Ltd., in 1875. This was sited at the end of Sandy Lane, at the junction of Park Lane and Rochdale Lane. The other was the Highfield Mill, in Bleasdale Street, owned by the Mellor family, later to be re-named the Park Mill when purchased by Park Mill (Royton) Ltd., in 1904, and now the Larch Mill.

Shiloh itself was the next mill to be built in the group. As has already been described, building commenced on a site in Holden Fold in 1874. It was completed two years later-a mill of 26,460 spindles employing 100 people. Next came Royton Spinning Company with their No. 2 mill, built adjacent to No. 1 mill in High Barn Street. Building commenced in May 1882 and the 20,000 spindle-mill was completed by June 1883. Shiloh was soon to follow suit in 1888 with their second mill (No. la), containing 9,144 spindles. All these mills were small by comparison with the buildings which were to follow.

The first of the larger mills in the group was the Holly, built in 1890. A mill of 72,660 spindles, it was the first even to approach the mythical figure of 100,000 spindles which became the accepted size for a coarse count mill in the Oldham area after the turn of the century. In those days the cost of building a mill worked out at about £1 a spindle. Then, in 1897, came Vine on Middleton Road (initially 82,322 spindles, later to be increased to 97,680), closely followed by Shiloh (No. 2), built in the period 1899-1901, the biggest and most ambitious of the Shiloh mills at the time with 74,748 spindles. In 1905 the spindleage was increased to 101,460 by the addition of another storey. There was no doubt who was the driving force behind both these mills, T. E. Gartside by now being managing director of Shiloh and one of the original directors of Vine.

The years leading up to the first world war saw the further expansion of the cotton industry. Many mills were built, including four more in the Gartside group, despite the recurrence of cyclical trade movements with periods of depression and years of reasonable trade. From 1900 to 1914 there were frequent spells of short-time working in Lancashire mills. Short-time in those days was organized by agreement of all employers through the local or central employers' association. On September 19, 1900, for instance, both Vine and Park & Sandy minutes show resolutions agreeing ',to accept the recommendation of the Federation of Master Cotton Spinners to close for 12 working days in October". Another on August 19, 1903, "that we stop Tuesdays as well as Saturdays and Mondays to the end of September". These references to short-time working continue until June 1904. Towards the end of 1904 trade improved and plans for further expansion were again on the drawing board.

On July 19, 1904, a new company was formed to purchase the Highfield Mill, in Bleasdale Street, Royton, with T. E. Gartside as chairman. The mill had been purchased previously at an auction at the Kings Arms, Yorkshire Street, Oldham, by T. E. Gartside on behalf of a Royton syndicate, for £7,725. The mill, consisting of 25,764 spindles, had been closed for twelve months and some of the workpeople had not been in employment since. The company was named Park Mill (Royton) Ltd., and the mill was re-opened under its new name, Park. On January 25, 1905, the directors of Holly placed contracts for building an additional two storeys to the mill, despite the fact that the mill had been showing more losses than profits during the previous five years. Vine directors were even more ambitious and on February 23, 1905, called an extraordinary general meeting to give permission to form a new company and to lease the adjoining vacant land for a second mill, perhaps not unexpectedly to be called the "Grape".

The formation of Grape was in many ways somewhat unusual in that it was formed by Vine directors with a capital of £70,000 in 14,000 shares of £5 each. The shares instead of being publicly subscribed were issued to Vine shareholders pro rata, although loan money was advertised for in the usual way. The new company was incorporated on February 16, 1905, the first sod cut on April 18, and the first brick laid on April 23 of the same year. It was almost exactly a year later that the first cop of weft was spun, on April 21, 1906. Thus was born one of the group's most successful mills. It was perhaps because of this that the directors two years later in April 1907 moved a resolution, "That we have an outing to Llandudno. Each director and official be requested to take his wife, and no one to approach any of the mill contractors for donations towards the outing".

Meanwhile, higher up the hill towards Royton Summit, another local company was being formed-this time independent of the Gartside influence. It was the Roy Mill Ltd., incorporated on April 6, 1905, which was many years later to become part of the Shiloh group. Roy was floated in the traditional manner with a capital of £80,000. R. and T. Howarths, of Rochdale, were given the contract for the mill building at a cost of £37,000, and Platts for the machinery. A quarter of the spindles installed were ring spindles, which was unusual at that time as mule spinning still reigned supreme and was to do so for many years. Mayall & Turner were appointed cotton brokers in April 1906 and production commenced later that year. The mill was soon in difficulties, another period of bad trade commencing in 1907 and continuing until 1909. Initial trading losses were incurred and overdraft facilities arranged with the bank. By 1910 there must have been a return to better trading conditions as Vine directors on September 21 of that year voted themselves a special payment of £250 "as an acknowledgement of the success of the company".

Meanwhile during this decade Shiloh itself continued to make steady progress under the management of T. E. Gartside. In 1905 extensions were added to No. 2 mill to bring the total spindleage of the company up to 143,664. T. E. Gartside was appointed chairman on November 12, 1907, in succession to Mr. Robert Leach, who was also chairman of Park & Sandy from May 1906 until he was again succeeded by T. E. Gartside in May 1908.

The next major development occurred towards the end of 1911. Roytonians became aware that T. E. Gartside had another bout of 'mill building' fever. Trade justified it. The 1909 recession was over and profits were good again. He always played his cards close to his chest and nobody knew quite what he was up to. He announced his intention of building another mill on a bigger scale than ever before and commenced negotiations with the machinery makers. Platts were uncooperative on price and refused to give him the discount he required. Then he played his trump card. Provided he got his discount, he would give them the contract for two mills to be built concurrently. Platts still refused to budge. Undaunted, T. E. Gartside went to Asa Lees and found them more amenable to his ideas about price. He secured his discount, and the contract for two mills was given to Asa Lees.

These mills are two of the surviving mills in the Shiloh group to-day, Park (then Park No. 2) and Sandy (then Park & Sandy Lane No. 2), built adjacent to each other on land between Bleasdale Street and Schofield Street from identical plans and with identical machinery. There was friendly rivalry between the two companies in a race to see which could be the first in production. Park & Sandy was first off the mark. A. Turner was engaged as architect, the company's present architects. The capital was increased in December 1911 from £80,000 to £100,000 to pay for the new building and a board resolution of December 4, 1911, states that "the new mill be built sufficiently strong that at any future time another storey can be added". T. E. Gartside presided over the sod-cutting ceremony one Monday morning in January 1912. Park minutes record that a number of contracts for the millwrights' work and the engines and boilers were placed in May 1912 and the capital was increased from £20,000 to £70,000 on May 6 and loan money was to be advertised for at the rate of 4 per cent free of tax to finance the new building.

Despite much research amongst those still alive who remember that time, no one can be sure which mill won the battle to spin the first cop. It was thought to be Park & Sandy, although some believe it to be Park. Certainly Park & Sandy directors felt they should be rewarded for their efforts for on May 8, 1913, they voted themselves £300 for services rendered during the course of the mill's erection. Whoever won, Park had the last laugh, as they were the mill to get the extra storey in April 1925.

Whilst this private battle was going on between the two Gartside mills, Roy in May 1912 was quietly extending itself by adding three stories to the card shed at the end of the mill to house nine pairs of weft mules.

It is perhaps appropriate to bring this period to a close with an extract from the Oldham Chronicle dated May 16, 1912:

Conference at the House of Commons.

A conference of Members of Parliament, employers and operatives in the Lancashire Cotton Trade was held on Wednesday night in the House of Commons in respect of a Bill for the better regulation of the flotation of cotton mills.

The burden of the speeches was that during the last boom in the cotton trade many companies were floated for the erection of mills without adequate capital behind them. The average industrial company floated has 70 per cent of its capital fully paid up, but in many of the cotton mills promoted only five shillings per £5 share has been subscribed and in the last boom six companies never proceeded so far as to lay a brick, while 20 per cent went into liquidation or were reconstructed and at present there are mills which require over a million spindles to complete their equipment. But this was clearly not true of the Gartside mills once again acting against the trend.

This chapter would not be complete without a tribute to "Captain", a horse which served the Royton Spinning Company faithfully from 1884 until 1905. He was one of the horses which transported cotton and yarn from Royton railway station to the mills on arrival from the docks or for onward transportation to customers. He was housed in special stables adjacent to the mill and annually on May Day the carters were each provided with a new suit and bowler hat and the horses, bedecked and resplendent, were taken to each of the directors' houses.

"Captain’s" memory has been perpetuated. One of his hooves has been made into an inkstand which resides on the boardroom table and is traditionally used by the chairman when he signs the minutes of directors' meetings. [SG note. I saw this inkwell in the Boardroom at Elk Mill in 1989 when I had meetings with Edmund Gartside about Ellenroad engine. The Shiloh Group were also notable for the calendar they produced each year which was a simple picture of a beautiful woman.]

Chapter 3

The First World War and the twenties

August 1914 saw the outbreak of World War I. In the rush to join up T. E. Gartside's eldest son, John, then production manager at Shiloh, was one of the first to leave. He served as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps, and was later seriously wounded.

The war caused minimum dislocation to the cotton industry. In fact, in many ways the industry benefited as extra production was required to clothe the troops. There was no official concentration as there was in the Second World War. The only problem was labour. The mills were asked to limit their production on non-essential work to 60 per cent of the pre-war level, but the control was voluntary. The industry remained very busy and profits were good. The effect of the war on prices was very marked. Yarn which had been selling at 7d. per lb. in 1914 was up to 37d. by 1917.

December 31, 1914, will be remembered as a black day for Shiloh. One of those rare and terrible accidents occurred which are not easily forgotten. The huge flywheel of No. 2 mill engine burst, shattering the engine house completely. Huge pieces of cast steel were hurled with enormous force in all directions and one vast segment of the rim of the wheel was projected through the roof of the engine house and over the top of the six storey mill (90ft.) and fell in a field 100 yards away, not far from Highlands House, the home of T. E. Gartside. He was away buying cotton in Liverpool at the time and one can imagine his consternation when he came home to find parts of the mill flywheel firmly embedded in the field below his garden. Fortunately there was no one in the engine house at the time, but a card room jobber was killed and a female tenter seriously injured. The damage was devastating. It cost many thousands of pounds to repair, and 350 operatives were temporarily thrown out of work.

The war period was uneventful as far as the other mills were concerned. A decision taken by the Park & Sandy directors towards the end of 1916 was however significant. They decided to convert the No. 1 mill to ring spinning and to purchase winding and beaming plant. Apart from Roy, Park & Sandy was the first mill in the group to adopt what was then considered to be a revolutionary method of spinning, but which today has almost completely eliminated the mule frame.

Meanwhile T. E. Gartside was strengthening his position in the group, and in 1916 became chairman of Holly, Vine and Grape. He had by this time been appointed a J.P. and was elected a local councillor representing Haggate Ward as a Liberal, in the Royton Council elections of 1912. One of his co-directors and a prominent figure in the Gartside Group, Robert Hasty, was re-elected at the same time as Liberal member for Dogford Ward. His appointment as a J.P. came in July 1913.

The end of the war period can, perhaps, be brought to a close by a reference to a report which appeared in the Oldham Chronicle on July 13, 1918. Reporting on the half yearly meeting of the Royton Spinning Co., it read:

"The shareholders approved of the directors' proposals not to fill the vacancy on the board caused by the death of Mr. T. E. Gartside". The error was soon corrected by the Chronicle on July 20, when they were "pleased to report that Mr. Gartside is still very much alive".

Post War Re-Construction

Although a number of traditional markets had been lost during the war, the demand for Lancashire yarn and cloth at the end of hostilities continued to be good. The voluntary war-time restrictions imposed by the Cotton Control Board were abandoned on February 3, 1919, and by the end of that year the industry was enjoying a period of exceptional prosperity. This good trade was, however, short-lived and from 1920 the market began to dwindle, with very severe periods of unemployment and depression.

The prosperity of the immediate post-war period caused many boards of directors to review the capital structure of their companies and 1919 saw the start of the recapitalisation of spinning mills in a big way. A publication of the Oldham Master Cotton Spinners' Association Ltd., sums the movement up as follows:

"The actual value of mills at the time was considered to be greater than the nominal value of the share capital and the process of re-flotation swept through the industry. The unions expressed grave concern about its effect on their members and their fears proved to be justified in the years of depressed trade that followed. During the years of depression many hundreds of families were ruined. Those who had loaned money to the mills found out that their loans were totally unsecured. Those who were shareholders were called upon to pay up the unpaid share capital. Those who were both shareholders and loan holders found that they were not even able to set their loan money off against their calls. Not only did shareholders and loan holders suffer but from 1921 until 1937 the operatives were compelled to accept successive substantial reductions in wage rates. During this same period there were long periods of unemployment and organised short-time working. The operatives also suffered in that from 1923 onwards many of the districts of the trade unions had to reduce or suspend stoppage benefits".

Re-capitalisation took place within the Gartside mills, but in a generally responsible manner and not on the reckless basis taking place elsewhere. Shiloh itself was re-constructed on May 1, 1920, and the company re-named Shiloh Mills Ltd. The outstanding loans were paid off completely. The whole of the original share capital was redeemed - shareholders received cash for every £5 share held and were given ten £1 shares in the new company. Holly, Vine and Park were similarly re-structured about the same time.

Meanwhile events were taking place at Roy which in to-day's terms would be described as a take-over bid, On October 22, 1919, agreement was reached 'between the Roy directors and a Mr. R. A. Leeming, one of T. E. Gartside's lieutenants (later to succeed him as chairman of Grape, Park & Sandy and Roy), to purchase the shares of the company at £23 a share, subject to 95 per cent acceptance, and with £10,000 paid to the existing directors for loss of office.

The deal was concluded by November 10, when R. A. Leeming and Robert Hasty joined the board in place of two of the existing directors. T. E. Gartside was appointed a director and chairman a week later, and the company was re-registered Roy Mill (1919) Ltd. on December 9. Thus Roy Mill was added to the Gartside empire and remains to this day one of the mills in the Shiloh group.

The Difficult Twenties

Times were difficult in the next decade. Hardly a year went by without short-time working on a big scale. There are frequent references in all the minute books of the period to short time as recommended by the Federation of Master Cotton Spinners' Associations. Not always were these recommendations accepted however, as the Gartside group clearly didn't like being told what to do.

Grape ran into labour troubles during the period. A dispute with the piecers caused a stoppage of three weeks in September 1920. There was more trouble in 1921 with spinners and piecers, and a payment of £7,500 was received by Grape from the Spinners' Federation to help finance the stoppage, as it was a matter of concern to all employers. Again, in May 1922, the spinners went on strike at the Grape and the Sudan mills. In support of this, all the employers in the district closed their mills until the spinners went back to work.

Three years later, in March 1925, Grape was in the news again, but for a very different reason. The directors decided, rather late in the day, to carry out the capital reconstruction that many of the other mills had completed five years earlier. The scheme was certainly generous, particularly at a time of difficult trading conditions, and was described in a Financial Times report of March 4, 1925:

"Shareholders are to receive a distribution of reserves to the extent of £70,000 and in addition are to be given ten £1 shares for each £5 share now held. This is equal to 1,000 per cent and is one of the biggest distributions ever made in the cotton trade. Even in the days of boom no company distributed such an amount, but there was a question in Parliament in 1920 in connection with a dividend distribution of 800 per cent by the Time and Textile Spinning Companies and 533 per cent by the Bell Spinning Company".

Far be it from T. E. Gartside to be worried about such minor affairs as questions in the House of Commons, for he had other more important matters to think about. At a time when half the industry was on short-time, Royton became aware of the Shiloh managing director's intention to build yet another and larger mill on land adjoining Shiloh. It seemed nothing short of madness. The local papers referred to it openly as 'Tommy's folly'. Undaunted he went ahead, and so great was the confidence he commanded that he was able to raise money to finance the mill on loan even at the height of the recession.

The mill was to be called the Elk. Building commenced in 1926 and was completed by the end of 1927. The contract for the machinery was given to Platts. It was to be 107,240 spindles and to employ approximately 400 workpeople. The cost, at approximately £250,000, was just under £2: 10 shillings per spindle.

Elk was the last mule spinning mill to be built in Lancashire and the last to be financed in the old way by loans. It stands to-day in a commanding position off the feeder road to the M.62 motorway and has been one of the most successful mills in the group, with a reputation for high-class super-carded yarns for hosiery, corduroys, velveteens and other speciality cloths.

Unfortunately, whilst Elk was being built, Shiloh suffered another set-back. In July 1927, a great storm flooded Royton, causing tremendous damage; the culverts were blocked and in a short space of time parts of both of the company's mills were flooded. The wall at the western end of No. 1 mill collapsed and the speed shed and warehouse were wrecked. The damage was costly and the board advised shareholders on November 12, 1927, that: "The directors consider it advisable to reduce the dividend owing to the great loss sustained by the flooding of the premises on July 11 last".

At this time T. E. Gartside and his Royton group of companies, by now numbering eight, also incurred the extreme displeasure of the rest of the spinning trade for maintaining a fiercely independent line on yarn prices. A Cotton Yarn Association had been formed in 1926 under the Presidency of a Mr. J. L. Tattersall to raise yarn prices to a profitable level during this period of bad trade and received the support of a large majority of the industry. At a meeting held in Ashton Town Hall, presided over by the Mayor of Ashton, Mr. Tattersall harangued the assembled gathering:

"He had come to ask the shareholders to do some thing to look after their 'brass' for they had come to a period in the trade when, if they could not pull
together, they would lose the race. The condition of affairs in the trade was that they were making 100lbs. of yarn and only 75lbs. could be sold. Owing to the war largely, they had lost a great deal of their trade and unfortunately they had not been able to recover it. The Cotton Yarn Association was a child born in adversity, when a number of men got together and discussed the position. The mills had large debit balances, and they were selling yarn at a penny and sometimes two pennies per lb. of a loss. They formed the association with the object of organizing the trade in such a way that the monies invested in the mills should not be given away to the buyer abroad. We have given millions away in the last few years in the foolish cut-throat competition".

But T. E. Gartside was unmoved, if indeed he was at the meeting. This was followed up by often virulent and personal attacks in the correspondence columns in the local Press. He felt bound to reply, and did so in a letter to the Oldham Chronicle in June 1927. In the last paragraph of his letter, in which he attacks, amongst others, an anonymous correspondent 'A spinner of American cotton', for making 'incorrect, unfair and random statements', he says, 'Surely your correspondents do not want to force firms to join the Cotton Yarn Association against their will and conviction. Nothing that has been said in the correspondence so far has altered my view, and no good purpose can be served by dealing with the various points raised in the letters'.

So he pursued his independent path, unaffected by the mounting criticism. He would certainly to-day have found a friend in the Registrar of Restrictive Practices.

Meanwhile Elk was in the news again, unfavourably this time. In November 1928 the company was fined £58 for an offence known as 'time cribbing'. The prosecution was under Section 33 of the 1901 Factories Act, which stipulated that during the recognised meal hour no women or young persons should be allowed in a room where a manufacturing process was going on. Unfortunately an unexpected visit from the Factory Inspector five minutes after stopping time found that all was not in accordance with the Act.

The same happened in December 1932 when a certain Mr. Harold Riches, defending the company for a second time, with a rather stronger and more militant line, no doubt briefed by, Mr. Gartside, protested against 'pettifogging interference by government officials'. The fine this time was rather stiffer, £90, the first offence being taken into consideration by the magistrate concerned.

Time cribbing was a common offence in those days at all mills in the district and, rather like red Indian smoke signals, word would spread swiftly from mill to mill as soon as the Factory Inspector crossed the boundaries of Royton. Mill engineers promptly stopped their engines and it was not often that the Factory Inspector was able to catch them out.

Chapter 4

The Group survives the Thirties

The difficult twenties soon moved into the disastrous thirties, the years 1931/33 being particularly grim. Nevertheless, the Gartside mills managed to survive and keep their heads above water, most of them doing remarkably well and continuing to make good profits. But some mills in the group were showing small losses during this period due to the curtailment of productions, the cutthroat competition, and the random cancellation of yarn contracts. Roy in particular was in difficulties and one of the original directors, J. W. Stott, the grandfather of Harvey Wild, one of Shiloh's present directors, who had stayed on the board after the take-over by T. E. Gartside and his colleagues, offered to refund the £2,000 compensation he had received for loss of office, which was accepted with thanks.

Creditors were on Roy's doorstep and the mill was only saved by a scheme of arrangement, which involved further calls on shareholders. Other mills in the group bailed out Roy despite opposition from some of their directors who saw no reason why their hard-earned profits should go into saving the ailing unit. Nevertheless, it was saved and is now one of the company's most modern and best equipped mills.

The trade recession during the thirties was forcing big changes on the industry as a whole. There was an increasing awareness of the over-capacity in Lancashire cotton and fears that its once vast export trade would never be recovered.

A Government enquiry into the state of the industry in 1929, the Clynes Report, recommended further mergers and a reduction of capacity. In 1929, with the support of the Bank of England, the Lancashire Cotton Corporation was formed, an amalgamation of a number of mills which found themselves in financial difficulties. Many mills in the Oldham area entered the Corporation, often reluctantly and under pressure from their creditors' banks. This was the first of the big combines. In 1936 an Act was passed providing a compulsory levy on the trade to purchase and scrap 'redundant' spindles. By the time the Spindles Board was wound up in 1942 no less than 641 million spindles had been scrapped under the scheme.

T. E. Gartside, even though approaching 80, was having nothing to do with these schemes. He intended to run his mills, not scrap them nor hand them over to a merchant banking group which knew nothing about the trade. Between 1923 and 1935 there was a reduction in spindles over the industry as a whole of some 25 per cent. In Royton it was 22 per cent. During the same period there was an increase of 14 per cent in the spindleage of the Gartside mills. There were to be no Gartside closures, at least not until after the post-World War II boom and the success of this policy was proved by both the profits that were being earned for shareholders and the employment retained for the workpeople.

In Royton at that time was another group of mills which became known as the Cheetham Group. This consisted of the Bee, Fir, King, Lion, Thornham and Ash (of Shaw), and was initially launched by John Brown Tattersall, one of T. E. Gartside's early colleagues and his predecessor as secretary of Royton Spinning Company. J. B. Tattersall became a director of Royton Spinning Company in 1903 and was chairman from 1906 until 1923. From there he built most of the mills in the Cheetham group, being chairman of Lion, Ash, King and Fir, and a director of the other mills in the group. Ash is the only one of this group to survive, being floated in 1883, and, like Shiloh, one of the few independent spinners remaining to-day.

T. E. Gartside had a great respect for John Brown Tattersall, having working under him at Royton Spinning Company, and a friendly rivalry developed as the empires of the two men grew. There was always an unwritten agreement between them that they would keep to their own territory and Luzley Brook was the dividing line, the Gartside mills being built to the north west of the brook whilst the Tattersall mills went up around the area of Luzley Brook itself. Needless to say, as soon as one group built a mill, the other group, determined not to be outdone, were certain to follow suit.

John Brown Tattersall died in 1925 having had the distinction of being the longest serving president of the Oldham Master Cotton Spinners' Association, holding the office from 1891 to 1919. T. E. Gartside took over from him as chairman of Royton Spinning Company in 1923. Thus, Royton Spinning Company, poised in a halfway position between the two groups, came firmly under the Gartside influence.

Will Cheetham, of the Bee, took over as the power behind the other group, hence its name. Tales are told that the rivalry increased and Tommy Gartside and Will Cheetham would never allow themselves to be seen in the bank together, and, if by any chance they did happen to meet, neither would show any recognition of the other's presence. These tales, which largely emanate from the operatives, are perhaps legendary rather than real, and on some matters there was close collaboration between them. They certainly got together in the period 1933-34 on a matter of mutual concern. T. E. Gartside had by this time changed his views on price control. He decided suicidal price cutting must finish. He got together with the Cheetham group and the result of their deliberations emerged in the form of the Royton coarse count agreement, which was the first effective price agreement of its kind in the industry. Other districts followed Royton's lead and by 1937 practically the whole trade was operating under similar price regulating agreements, which continued in some form until 1959.

An important decision was taken by the Park directors at about this time. They decided in March 1932 to convert their No. 1 mill to condenser spinning and to scrap the ordinary cotton spinning plant. Orders for the machinery were placed with Platts and Tathams in April and May. In June the mill (formerly Highfield mill) was re-named yet again and became the Larch mill.

The decision was significant in that it was the group's first move into condenser spinning, an investment which has continued to this day. History was to repeat itself some thirty years later when the Shiloh directors put a new condenser spinning plant into Park (No. 2) after closing down the conventional spinning.


T. E. Gartside had some able assistants and, in some cases, rivals who worked with him in building up his empire. Names like Hasty, Stott, Tattersall, Leeming, Bakewell and Mellor keep recurring in the history of the group.

The Hasty family were particularly prominent. Robert Hasty first appears as secretary and salesman at Park & Sandy Lane, being appointed on June 3, 1892, at a salary of £3 a week. He was one of the syndicate who first floated Park and one of its original directors. He also had a hand in the reconstruction at Roy in 1919. He was a leading local councillor and chairman of Royton District Council in 1906. He died in 1926 leaving four sons George, Harold, Robert and Herbert, all of whom worked for the group at some stage in their life. George was the most prominent, commencing as assistant secretary at Vine in 1902, later to become secretary and salesman at Grape, and the first managing director of the newly-formed Royton Textile Corporation in 1949.

Some of to-day's senior executives were first appointed during this period. Park minutes record on April 5, 1927, that Arthur Bradbury, present sales manager at Roy, 'be engaged as a junior clerk at a salary of 10/- a week'. Eight years later on October 29, 1935, Leslie Holland, present company secretary, was engaged also as junior clerk 'at a salary of 8/6d. per week', a position which had justified a salary of 10 shillings a week as far back as 1902. A reduction of 15 per cent in the rate for the job over a period of 33 years is a salutary reminder of today's inflationary spiral and was not uncommon during this period.

In fact, the standard wage lists for the industry saw as many reductions in wages as increases between the period 1910 and 1940. A wage of £1 a week on the standard list in 1910 rose steadily until May 1920, when the industry was as its peak of profitability, to the then high figure of £5 15s. 6d. A series of reductions followed up to 1932, which brought the rate down to only 12/5d., or just over 60 per cent of the 1910 rate. It was not until October 1940, that it recovered to its 1910 level and 1963 before it reached its May 1920 peak.

Another appointment about this period was Harvey Wild, one of Shiloh's present directors, who was appointed salesman of Park & Sandy in May 1937, and later succeeded George Hasty as managing director of Royton Textile Corporation.

Meanwhile, T. E. Gartside was bringing his own family into the business. His elder son, John (J.T.), was appointed assistant manager of Shiloh in 1912, and, after serving in the First World War, returned as salesman and later manager of Park. He left Park in 1927 to become the first manager of Elk, and his son, another J. T. Gartside, is managing Elk to-day.

T. E. Gartside's younger son, James (J.B.) was despatched to Liverpool for training in raw cotton selection and joined Shiloh's brokers, Melladew & Clarke.

He, also brought his two sons-in-law into the business, 'Billy' Holden, husband of his youngest daughter, being appointed manager of Park in January 1927. Edward Leigh, his other son-in-law, a waste merchant, and well known personality in the trade, joined the board of Park in February 1929, and was a director of other companies in the group including chairman of Holly for a short period during the Second World War. Edward Leigh's grandson, Michael, is also with the company to-day, as assistant work study officer.

Board meetings in the early days were held in the evening in order not to interfere with the day's work and were of short duration. They had to be brief because there were sometimes two or three board meetings in one evening, with rarely sufficient time to allow the directors to walk from one mill to the next at a time when there were few cars and only limited forms of transport. Moreover, meetings were held weekly, which meant T. E. Gartside had at least eight evening meetings a week, and sometimes more.

Another feature of this early period was the unusual method of selecting auditors. Auditors were invariably either a salesman or a secretary from a neighbouring mill, often a competitor, obviously a system which did not lend itself to the complete opening of a company's books. Nor was it a system that a modern Companies Act would have tolerated. But in those days it used to be said there was one company law for Royton, and another for the rest of the country. Certainly the early published balance sheets gave the minimum of information. Up to 1926 the dividend was the only information given in the shareholders' report.

Chapter 5

World War and after

September 1939 saw the outbreak of World War II. Territorials and the first group of conscripts were immediately called to the colours and the mills found themselves without key personnel. Leslie Holland has vivid memories of handing out the wages and insurance cards to the Territorials as they called in their uniforms at Park office on their way to their mobilization areas on Saturday morning, September 2, 1939, the day before the outbreak of war. Park minute book records on October 3, 'that Lt.-Col. J. B. Gartside be given leave of absence on military service'. He, along with others, was soon to find himself in France with the British Expeditionary Force.

Meanwhile, during the early years of the war, the mills tried to adjust themselves to war-time conditions. Extra hours had to be worked to make up for staff shortages, and production was controlled to ensure maximum output of essential products for the war effort. Special precautions had to be taken to safeguard the mills from enemy air attack. Each mill formed its own fire watching team, usually teams of seven or eight who operated on a rota basis, sleeping on the premises every night and patrolling the mill roof at regular intervals. The big 'blitz' on Manchester started in December 1940 and on the night of December 22 the Park fire watching team reported that the mill had been hit. A dawn search found that it was no more than one of our own anti-aircraft shells, which had left its mark on the new toilets at the front of the mill, but fortunately had done no damage to the machinery.

T. E. Gartside, at 83, was still at the helm and carried on despite the loss of some of his co-directors and other key executives called away on war service. The outbreak of war and the 'blitz' on Manchester had taken its toll on his spirits and health. He died on January 8, 1941, after a very short illness. At the time of his death he was chairman of the eight companies in the Gartside group of mills, and chairman or a director of four others, including the Willow Bank and Durban Mills, later to become part of the Lancashire Cotton Corporation. A progressive man, who retained his full faculties until the end, his self-discipline, energy, perseverance and forcefulness of character were an inspiration to the industry.

He had played a prominent part in the trade as a whole, being on the committee of the Oldham Master Cotton Spinners' Association from 1910 to 1937, and vice-president for 14 years from 1923. In those days presidents were reluctant to leave office, and he never achieved the distinction of becoming president. It was left to his grandson, Edmund Gartside, to be the first of the family to succeed to this position-almost exactly 30 years later and under very different circumstances. T. E. Gartside was a committee member of the Central Federation of Master Cotton Spinners' Association and represented the industry on many foreign conferences. A churchman, he was Church Warden at St. Paul's, Royton, from 1903 until his death. The present organ at St. Paul's is dedicated to his memory.

J. B. Gartside

On the shoulders of his younger son, Col. J. B. Gartside, now back from France, fell the mantle of the family responsibilities. Although his training had been in Liverpool, and he had no practical experience of spinning, he rose to the challenge. He took over immediately as chairman of Shiloh, Park and Vine. The chairmanship of the other mills in the group followed later, in May 1942 in the case of Roy, Grape, and Park & Sandy on the death of R. A. Leeming, and in March 1944 at Holly. He never became chairman of Royton Spinning Company, where he only obtained a seat on the board after a fight armed with shareholders' proxies, the resistance being due, it seems, to the fact that he was a cotton broker and Royton Spinning directors had a deep mistrust of his Liverpool cotton broking background.

J. B. (Jimmy) Gartside was born in 1897 in Royton and was educated first at Hulme Grammar School, Oldham, of which he later became a governor. The outbreak of World War I found him at school in Germany, a situation which, not unnaturally, involved a hurried departure, but not before he had the unusual distinction of being awarded a German medal for carrying the Corps colours on the Kaiser's birthday parade! He had a distinguished military career, during which he was awarded both the Distinguished Service Order and the Military Cross. During the First World War-while still only a Second-Lieutenant-he commanded a company at Passchendaele. Wounded twice, he returned after the war to civilian life and a job at a Liverpool cotton merchants.

He made such a success of establishing American branches for this firm, S. M. Bulley and Sons, that he was asked to stay in the States to manage them. But his father, T. E. Gartside, wanted him in Liverpool and he returned to become a partner in Melladew & Clarke, where he was well placed to keep an eye on Shiloh's cotton shipments.

Between the wars his Liverpool associations gave him a knowledge of American cottons that was second to none. Three times he represented the Liverpool Cotton Association at the Universal Standards Conference at Washington and in 1938 he was elected President of the Association, at 41 the youngest man to fill the post up to that time.

At the same time, he took a keen interest in the Gartside mills in Royton. His directorship in Park Mill dated from 1926 and in Shiloh from 1934. Also he found time to serve as a Territorial Army officer with the Lancashire Fusiliers. Promoted Lieutenant-Colonel in 1935, he commanded the 6th Battalion at Rochdale. He led the Battalion during the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 and it was during this campaign that he was awarded the D.S.O. for launching a successful counter-attack on the Germans on the Escault Canal near Tournai, Belgium.

J. B. Gartside took a keen interest in the welfare of the workpeople and he introduced many ideas which were well in advance of their time. These included the provision of day nurseries for the children of working mothers, to
enable women to contribute to the war effort. Shiloh's nursery, opened in 1943, was one of the first of its kind and is still open to-day offering the same service to mothers. Park also started a day nursery at that time. Shiloh's nursery has featured many times in the Press and on television, even as recently as January 1974 when, during the national three-day working caused by the energy crisis, B.B.C. and I.T.V. camera crews came to see how Shiloh were coping with Saturday working and followed the firm's nursery vans on their early morning round bringing the children into the nursery to enable the mothers to get to work for a full Saturday shift.

Other ideas J. B. Gartside promoted in the group included works councils, profit-sharing schemes, a pension scheme for staff, all relatively revolutionary at that time. He also did much to brighten up the mills, introducing canteens, surgeries and other welfare facilities. Sports and recreational facilities were also included, and after the war, Shiloh's Annual Gala Day became quite an event in the town's social calendar.

Concentration of Production

Meanwhile the outbreak of war had brought with it government controls. A Cotton Industry (Re-organization) Act had been introduced in August 1939. This had to be amended in the changed circumstances of the war. A Cotton Board was established in 1940 and a Cotton Control was set up shortly afterwards by the Board of Trade. These two organizations co-ordinated the industry's war-time activities. Wages, yarn prices and raw material prices were all controlled. Scores of Lancashire mills were closed under the Concentration of Industry Scheme. Of the Gartside mills, Shiloh (No. 2), Roy, Royton Spinning, Park & Sandy (No. 2) and Holly were all closed in June 1941 and were not re-opened until the end of 1945 or early 1946. Under the government scheme, the mills that remained open paid a levy out of profits into a Care and Maintenance Fund, which was distributed to the closed mills to compensate them for the cost of maintaining plant and buildings.

In September 1944 came the next of many government plans for the industry. Hugh Dalton, then President of the Board of Trade, came to Manchester to announce his five-point plan to modernize the industry, only to be accused of being 'unable to distinguish between a bale of cotton and a bale of hay'. He was followed shortly afterwards in August 1945 by Sir Stafford Cripps, the newly appointed President of the Board of Trade in the Attlee Labour government, who turned his attention to the cotton industry within three weeks of taking office. The industry, he said, would not be nationalized, but would be re-organized; he intended setting up a government commission for this purpose under an independent chairman with 'a small number of experts'.
This was not the first, or the last time, that the industry was to be investigated by a commission of so-called ,experts'.

Post World War II

Meanwhile the mills that re-opened after the war had great difficulty in obtaining labour to get the machinery running again. This, and the overwhelming demand for textiles which followed, meant that yarn had to be rationed. Cotton continued to be purchased centrally by government-sponsored official bodies until 1954. Centralised purchasing of cotton caused many problems and there are frequent references in the minutes to the constant changes in the quality of cotton received. This was blamed for a strike occurring at Elk in May 1946. 'The fault lay with the quality of the cotton supplied by the Cotton Controller', a Manchester Guardian report said, but the Controller stated that the mill 'had had the best available cotton'. As fate would have it, the first bale of privately imported cotton received in Lancashire since 1941 was consigned to Elk in September 1952.

Stafford Cripps' brainchild eventually emerged on May 1, 1947, in a letter to the Cotton Board, later to be officially formulated in the Cotton Spinning (Re-equipment Subsidy) Act 1948. Under the scheme, the Government agreed to contribute 25 per cent of the cost of new machinery to firms who grouped themselves into 'manoeuvrable units' and who accepted the introduction of shift work and new methods of labour deployment. In order to benefit under this scheme four of the mills in the Gartside group-Grape, Holly, Park & Sandy, and Vine-were formed into a new company called Royton Textile Corporation Ltd., which was incorporated on May 5, 1949, and started trading on July 1, of that year. Post-war plans for modernisation and re-equipment proceeded and at the time of its formation the Royton Textile group had already spent, or was committed to spend, £300,000 in re-equipping their five mills. Further sums were to be spent under the Cripps' scheme. Shiloh and other mills in the group were also re-equipping and were large enough to qualify for the Cripps' grant without restructuring. Some £150,000 was spent on Shiloh and Elk in the 1945 to 1950 period.

All this made the mills more modern and efficient and helped to increase operative productivity. It was not an era of great progress in spinning technology. The ring frame had gained ascendancy over the mule and much of the expenditure was on new ring spinning plant. The big breakthrough in the form of larger packages and higher machine speeds was to come later. As part of their rationalization and re-equipment Royton Textile Corporation closed the old Sandy No. 1 mill in 1949. This was the first mill in the Gartside group to be closed and, therefore, a landmark in the group's history. It was a recognition of the need to re-structure and to deploy the available operatives more effectively. Taken at a time when demand was at a high point of the post-war boom, it was nevertheless a sad moment when one of the oldest mills in Royton eventually closed its doors for the last time, ultimately to be demolished. It was the first of many closures that were to follow later in the face of the increasing threat from cheap imported textiles coming from Commonwealth and other countries where wages were perhaps a fifth of the level of Lancashire wages.

At the time of its formation, 50 per cent of Royton Textile Corporation's yarns eventually ended up abroad. This was a far cry from the days when the home industry had spun all its yarn for the home trade before breakfast on a Monday morning leaving the rest of the week for export. But, nevertheless, exports in 1949 still represented a substantial proportion of the group's output. Also during this period in October 1947, the Gartside Spinners' Pension Scheme was formed. This scheme made provision for life assurance and pensions on retirement for all staff in the eight participating companies. It was a generous scheme by any standards, the company paying the whole of the cost of life assurance benefits as well as paying the major contribution to the individual's retirement pension. It survives to-day with only minor amendments, which is indicative both of J. B. Gartside's desire to look after his staff and his foresight in planning for the future.

The post-war period saw a number of new appointments of executives who were to play a prominent part in Shiloh’s future. These included Darrell Shaw, present deputy managing director, who joined Park mill in 1947 as a management trainee after war service in India. Fred Hutchinson, another of the present directors, started as assistant manager at Park & Sandy Lane on June 18, 1947, before being transferred to Shiloh as manager. Tom Jackson, Sandy's present manager, was appointed inside manager of Vine on September 16, 1948.

The post-war boom brought a period of excellent profits which would have been even greater had it not been for the acute shortage of labour. J. B. Gartside, again showing his progressive and sometimes liberal views, believed that part of those profits should be distributed to employees. Accordingly, from 1948 onwards, three of his companies, Shiloh, Park and Roy distributed part of their profits to the employees. This incurred the extreme displeasure of the employers' associations and resolutions were passed by the Federation of Master Cotton Spinners' Association calling for the resignation of Shiloh and other companies who had defied their ban on the payment of profit bonuses. But J. B. Gartside stuck to his guns, refused to resign, and declared that 'he believed that some form of profit-sharing was necessary to provide an incentive in an industry where minimum wage rates were in operation. In spite of the attitude of the Federation our advice to shareholders will be that the scheme should continue. We will not resign from the Federation on this issue. The onus of taking action must come from them'.

Shiloh continued to pay a share of the profits to employees for seven years between 1948 and 1955, most of them years of peak profits, and the Federation never took the final step of ordering their expulsion. The matter was of some embarrassment to George Hasty, who was president of the Federation at the time. He took the only gentlemanly way out and resigned from the board of Park on this issue. However, after this period the problem soon resolved itself. The industry's profitability took a real knock as textile imports began to rise and rapid contraction set in.

In April 1953 the other four companies were re-grouped into a second larger grouping, the present 'Shiloh Spinners Limited', which was incorporated on March 2, 1953, and consisted of nine mills (Shiloh (3), Elk, Park, Larch, Roy and Royton Spinning Co. (2)). This completed the re-grouping process, which J. B. Gartside had carried out with the precision of a military exercise.

Chapter 6

Import Problems force closures

The formation of the new Shiloh Group coincided with the start of the erosion of the U.K. market. As cheap imports gradually gathered momentum, a decision was taken to close Shiloh No. 1 and 1a mills shortly after the formation of the company in 1953, almost exactly 80 years after the first yarn was spun from their spindles. Holly and Royton Spinning Company were next to go -in 1956 and 1958 respectively. The closure of Royton Spinning Co., and the demolition of the building, saw the end of a famous Royton landmark and the early hunting ground of many famous personalities in the trade. Apart from T. E. Gartside himself, Royton Spinning Company can claim to have taught several other leading textile personalities their trade including John Brown Tattersall, James Littlewood, later managing director of Lancashire Cotton Corporation, and more recently Geoff Howarth, present sales director of Courtaulds Northern Textiles Division.

During the fifties, both the Shiloh and Royton Textile groups continued with their policy of re-equipment and the balance sheets reveal large sums being spent on modernisation. This included reducing noise and dust levels and improving the spacing of machinery. Better ventilation, better lighting, all the things that were to make life pleasanter in other industries a decade or so later, were introduced in the Gartside mills during this period. Some of the machinery was converted to spin man-made fibres as early as 1951. The main development on the machinery side was the continued installation of ring frames.

The personnel side continued to be a priority and there was an active social programme at most mills in the group, run by welfare and personnel officers, with the assistance of the works councils and their various subcommittees. Social events included dances, the annual gala day, fashion shows, and a variety of sporting activities organized by a group sports officer, who was appointed during that period. Shiloh and Elk social committee were particularly ambitious, when in the early fifties they found enough talent in the company to perform a Christmas pantomime. News sheets were regularly published and the 'Shiloh Messenger' covering the Shiloh Group was a very sophisticated glossy magazine, which continued to be published twice yearly throughout the fifties until it had to be discontinued during one of the all-too-frequent cost-cutting exercises which occurred in periods of bad trade.

Canteens and surgery facilities were improved. Encouragement was given to staff and employees to study with a view to promotion. J. B. Gartside had been one of the original instigators of the Royton Cotton Mills Institute, formed in 1943 to promote technical education within the Royton mills. A machine room had been made available at the Holly for use by the Institute. In addition, some of the younger male employees were encouraged to go on Outward Bound courses and the company paid the cost as well as granting leave of absence from their employment for the duration of the course.

Labour was a constant problem during this period. In an effort to improve the situation, the group looked abroad and, after a visit by one of the group's welfare officers to Malta, a party of 26 Maltese girls was brought over to Lancashire in August 1951 and was housed in a hostel provided by the company. Regrettably, they had to return home six months later as the industry found itself faced with a sudden depression. The Gartside mills honoured their contract by paying their passage home in 'the unlikely event of their not being fully employed for two years' a typical example of how progressive management was being constantly thwarted by the cyclical recessions caused by an open-door policy to cheap imports.


The year 1959 was more than usually significant in the history of the group, as well as of the industry as a whole. It also happened to be an election year, when Harold Macmillan’s Conservative government was seeking re-election for a second term of office, and things generally tend to happen to textiles at election time. Harold Macmillan in a whirlwind pre-election fact-finding mission on the industry, visited Roy Mill on April 24, and witnessed the mill's modernization scheme at the half-way stage. Like 1955 before it, 1959 was a year of severe recession, with extensive short-time working, which had started in August 1958. It saw the end of the Yarn Spinners' Association agreement, a scheme for controlling yarn prices, which was formed after the war in 1946 and continued uninterrupted until ended by the Restrictive Practices Court after lengthy court proceedings.

The main event, however, was the government's 1959 re-organization scheme which set up a fund to finance the closure of mills and the scrapping of surplus machinery. It also promised a grant for re-equipment to those firms who stayed in business and agreed to re-equip. The fund was financed by a compulsory levy on all employers remaining in business spread over a number of years and a second fund was set up to make provision for redundant, operatives. The redundancy fund for employees was one of the first of its kind and well in advance of any state legislation on this subject.

As soon as this scheme was announced in August 1959 the directors of both Shiloh and Royton Textile, after lengthy deliberations, decided to close three mills. Shiloh decided to close Shiloh No. 2 mill and Park, leaving three mills running, Elk, Roy and Larch. Royton Textile closed Vine, leaving Sandy No. 2 and Grape to run. Thus, in one stroke, three more Gartside mills had gone, leaving five of the original 14. Plans were then set afoot to start on the further re-equipment of the remaining mills with the benefit of the government grant. It was believed at the time that the government meant business and the industry took at face value its assurance that it would provide the necessary economic conditions for a smaller, more efficient, textile industry to thrive.
Regrettably, this was not to be so. There followed a period of tremendous buoyancy, but it was short-lived. As mills were closing under the scheme, panic buying set in. Merchants felt that perhaps concentration had gone too far and that what remained of the industry would be unable to supply their needs. They therefore looked abroad for their requirements and large orders were placed which quickly resulted in a further flood of imports and by 1963 the home industry was again in trouble. The government's promise had come to nothing. Needless to say, however, on October 8, 1959, Harold Macmillan's government was re-elected with the biggest majority of recent times, under the 'You've never had it so good' banner.

His promise to the textile industry perhaps contributed in a small way to his victory and cynics in the industry may be forgiven for thinking four years later, as the industry was being dealt another knockout blow, that it was one of the biggest confidence tricks ever played. But it was not the first, nor the last, of the tricks that the politicians were to play on the industry.

Changes at the Helm

Meanwhile J. B. Gartside's health was failing and after he had set in motion the re-construction under the 1959 scheme he retired as chairman of Shiloh on September 30, 1959, and Royton Textile five months later. He resigned from the boards of both companies at the end of March 1960 to retire to Southport. He had given up his partnership in Melladew & Clarke three years earlier in 1957, retaining an active interest in the Liverpool cotton market until that time. He died four years later on January 20, 1964, at the age of 66 after a very active life, having devoted much of his spare time to public and military service. Like his father before him, he was a J.P. He was also Deputy Lieutenant for Lancashire, amongst many other public appointments covering a variety of fields. In his funeral address at St. Paul's, Royton, the Vicar described Col. Gartside as 'one of the great benefactors of Royton'. With 'a deep love of Royton, and, in particular of this parish and Church'. On the day of his funeral the mill workers stopped their machines and lined the road as the funeral cortege passed on its way to St. Paul's Church prior to his committal in the family grave in Royton Cemetery.

George Hasty, at 76, took over as chairman of both companies. Under him were C. B. Cummins, managing director of the Shiloh group since November 1953, and Harvey Wild who succeeded Mr. Hasty as managing director of Royton Textile Corporation in 1956.

By now a third generation Gartside had joined Shiloh, Edmund, the eldest son of J. B. Gartside. Born in 1933 and educated at Winchester College and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he obtained an Honours Degree in Economics and Law, he joined the company in 1957 as a management trainee. After a course at the Shirley Institute, his first management appointment was manager of Park during the period of its closure, an experience he was not to forget and which gave him the determination to fight against further mill closures in the future.

Appointed a director of Shiloh and Royton Textile in April 1960, he became general manager of Roy in 1961, and in 1965 succeeded C. B. Cummins as Shiloh's managing director following the latter's early retirement.

George Hasty vacated the chair of Shiloh in 1963 to be succeeded by H. C. Gill, a Manchester accountant and an old war-time colleague of J. B. Gartside. Mr. Gill continued as chairman until November 1966 when he resigned through ill health. Then again a Gartside took over as chairman, Edmund was appointed at the age of 33.

Chapter 7

Shiloh fights back

The 1960's was a decade of mixed fortunes for Shiloh and the Lancashire trade as a whole. It was a period of great political activity and a decade when imports got completely out of hand. Leaders in the industry like Edmund Gartside had to spend almost as much time engaged in political activities as in running their business to enable their mills to survive. There were two major slumps in 1963 and 1967, with no really significant booms in between. Mills were closing at the rate of at least one a week during the decade and workpeople were losing their jobs at the enormous rate of 12,000 a year.

Some said that it was progress and rationalization. Others, like Edmund Gartside, said it was the deliberate murder of an industry. He first took a militant line in a letter to the Times published on June 14, 1962. Referring to the 1959 Government Re-organisation Scheme, he said: 'A government policy which sponsors the complete dissipation of both public and private money in re-equipping an industry at a level of activity it has no intention of maintaining, is highly reprehensible and is to be condemned'.

It was about this time that an army of militant operatives, some from Shiloh, marched through London as part of the Textile Action Group, a Lancashire textile protest group, warning the government of the dire consequences of their failure to act to save the industry with such slogans as 'Erroll you're in peril'. A threat to the Tory President of the Board of Trade. A petition was handed in to the House of Commons prior to a full-scale debate on the cotton industry. In fact it turned out to be the last full-scale debate held on the industry's problems. Whilst the government with its huge majority carried the day, it was not without a revolt from Lancashire Tory M.P.s who voted against their own government,

Meanwhile George Brown was proclaiming himself the saviour of the industry. As deputy leader of the opposition he had up-dated Harold Wilson's 1957 'Plan for Cotton' and promised an imports commission immediately on a
return to power of a Labour government. Lancashire decided to give him a chance and the 1964 Labour government got its majority of four as a result of the swing in the Lancashire marginal constituencies.

However, once in power, no more was heard of the Labour 'Plan for Cotton'. All the industry got was a totally inadequate system of global quotas, which failed to control the situation, and a sub-committee of the Textile Council (successor to the Cotton Board) to monitor imports but without power to act. Ironically enough, the reason the Labour government refused to go ahead with its imports commission was because 'it was not in the interest of Common Market negotiations'. Later the Labour party was to turn its back on the EEC.

After a slightly better trading period in 1965 and 1966, the industry plunged yet again into another serious recession in 1967. This time Cyril Smith, then Mayor of Rochdale and later the town's 23-stone Liberal M.P., took up the cudgels and leading a powerful civic delegation of Lancashire mayors to the Board of Trade, accompanied by Arnold Ogden, president of the Rochdale Textile Employers (and of similar stature to Cyril Smith) and Edmund Gartside. 'The future of Harold Wilson's Labour government rests on Lancashire's willingness to re-elect them', roared Rochdale's Mayor. His major broadsides were directed specifically at Douglas jay, then president of the Board of Trade. And Royton folk might have thought the battle was won when on August 29, 1967, the Union Jacks were hoisted on the mills to mark Mr. Jay's removal from office. But his successor, Labour colleague, Anthony Crosland, was to do little better and the industry continued to be overwhelmed by the bogey of imports.

Battle was taken up again 12 months later when at a massive rally of 5,000 workers at Belle Vue, Manchester, organised by the cotton trade unions. Edmund Gartside, speaking as the employers' representative, said, 'There has been no greater national scandal of recent years than the treatment our industry has had at the hands of successive governments'. Speaking from the same platform was textile union leader Lewis Wright (later Lord Wright) and Anthony Greenwood, who as Minister of Housing representing a Lancashire constituency was the only minister with the nerve to come and face the music, but his remark that the mill workers were better off than the miners in the Rhondda Valley, was greeted with such fury that his speech was drowned in the roars of anger.

Meanwhile yet another major enquiry into the industry was taking place. This was the £100,000 Productivity and Efficiency Study, carried out by the Textile Council. Edmund Gartside, because of his independent views, found himself on the committee conducting this enquiry, which took three years to complete.

The outcome of the report published on March 31, 1969, was a recommendation that quotas be abolished over a transitional period and that they be replaced by a system of tariffs on Commonwealth textiles. It was perhaps not surprising that Edmund Gartside disagreed with the findings of a report that was largely written by the government and representatives of the large groups, and he felt it necessary to write a note of dissent. Apart from disagreeing with many of the statistics, which he regarded as completely academic and in many respects unrelated to the reality of the situation, he strongly opposed the phasing out of quotas, at least until it could be proved, as the experts claimed, that tariffs were a more effective form of protection. However, in July, Anthony Crosland announced the government's decision to abandon quotas on January 1, 1972, and replace them with the totally inadequate tariff recommended by the Textile Council.

Trade Cycle

During this decade Shiloh had many ups and downs and its fortunes were largely controlled by the effects of the trade cycle. Re-equipment continued at Roy and Elk between 1960 and 1965 under the government's re-equipment scheme. Money was spent on a new card room plant at Elk, new ring frames, the conversion of drafting systems to modern high draft system, and high speed winding frames. A decision was taken in 1962 to move the condenser spinning plant at Larch to Park and to bring it up to date with a new revolutionary continuous spinning process know as the Permo system of spinning. Thus the empty Park Mill was brought into use again, and Larch was sold to a firm for use as a food store and distribution centre. Re-equipment went hand in hand with increased shift working and Roy, when it introduced its night shift in 1960, was one of the first mills in the district to do so.

In 1963 Shiloh announced a mammoth loss of £79,000, the first time in its history this had happened-due largely to the serious recession and extensive short-time working, but also contributed to by the cost of moving the condenser plant from Larch to Park and an exceptional cost of £25,000 on major structural repairs to Roy roof. Meanwhile, Royton Textile Corporation was suffering similar difficulties due to the crisis and decided to close its Grape Mill in 1963. This was another example of a modernized mill, which had been re-equipped with government grants, having to close because of the imports situation. At the time of Grape's closure there was no industry redundancy scheme, for operatives, the 1959 scheme having been completed, and the national scheme not yet in operation. However, Royton Textile directors devised a scheme, of their own, which ensured the workpeople got fair compensation for the loss of their jobs. The scheme earned the company high praise from the trade unions. Grape was sold shortly afterwards to Highams, the Accrington-based textile firm, who had previously purchased Vine, and now wanted another mill to concentrate part of their activities. The mill is now being used again for textile manufacture in Royton. Following the closure of Grape, Royton Textile directors transferred all their modern machinery to Sandy and concentrated their entire production on this, their last remaining mill.

A significant development during this period occurred in 1964 when Courtaulds decided to buy a big stake in the industry with their purchase of both the Lancashire Cotton Corporation and Fine Spinners and Doublers, themselves two of the largest combines in the trade. This marked the start of the formation of large textile groupings, which was to have a rub-off effect on the Gartside Group.

Edmund Gartside found himself with a fight on his hands in 1965, when single-handed, he tried to ward off a take-over bid for Royton Textile from Highams, who, having already purchased Grape and Vine, were now anxious to obtain Sandy. The take-over was endorsed at a stormy meeting in June 1965, but not without George Hasty and his co-directors, who had recommended the offer, having a rough ride at the hands of the Gartside supporters. As fate would have it, the story was not finished. Highams, in February 1967 at the height of a recession, decided to close Sandy, Royton Textile's last mill, because of an alarming rise in the imports of sheetings from Portugal, which cut back their requirements of cotton yarn.

On hearing the news Shiloh directors immediately got into consultation and in an eleventh-hour deal that would have done credit to the legendary Tommy Gartside, 300 jobs were saved and 35,000 spindles, instead of becoming idle, continued to spin, and Sandy mill returned to the Gartside fold, increasing the size of the group to four mills. Cynicism, as well as admiration for Edmund Gartside, the man who swam against the prevailing current to give cotton a much needed boost, greeted the purchase. Memories were revived of when his grandfather, T. E. Gartside, built Elk mill in 1926 when more than half of Lancashire's mills were on short time. But with almost 50 years successful running behind it 'Tommy's Folly' had long lived down the tag and 'Edmund's Hunch' about Sandy was even more quickly revealed as a sound business transaction. On the heels of the deal, cloth and yarn imports from Portugal were restricted and Sandy soon ranked among the most successful of Shiloh's mills. Clearly, third-generation cotton man Gartside had a well-tuned ear. But the Sandy story is typical of Shiloh's talent for hitting headlines against the general trend, and for turning what for more timid spirits might have seemed like the end of the road into exciting routes to new beginnings.

One of those new beginnings occurred in August 1966, when Shiloh directors decided to diversify in an attempt to cushion the effect of the textile, cycle. Shiloh directors entered into an agreement with Mr. W. B. Ross, Darrell Shaw's father-in-law, to set up a joint company to manufacture polystyrene and other products for the insulation industry. The company was to be run by Mr. Ross's son, Michael, and was to be accommodated at Park Mill, where there was plenty of space for expansion. The arrangement was formalised in January 1965 by the incorporation of Parklite Insulation Ltd. The company was slow to grow, but in 1968 it was making good profits and it now represents a substantial proportion of total profits. From small beginnings it has grown into an important part of the Shiloh group.

Throughout the 1960's Shiloh directors continued to plough hard-earned profits back into the Company. The 1960's saw the big break-through in carding speeds, as well as increased production speeds at all processes. Shiloh installed new high speed cards and draw frames in their Elk and Roy mills and gradually brought their plant up to date. Tremendous emphasis was placed on training and recruitment and Shiloh was one of the first in the field with operative training. A new Group Training Centre was opened at Roy mill on July 13, 1966, a Group Training and Personnel Officer having been appointed prior to this date. This was before the formation of the Cotton and Allied Textiles Industry Training Board, and once again showed that Shiloh was in advance of its time in recognizing the need for modern methods of operative training.

Mention must be made of the demolition of the large Shiloh No. 2 mill in Holden Fold which commenced in the summer of 1965 and still, in 1974, is not yet complete, for this was to create legal history. The mill, which was sold shortly after its closure in 1959 for another use, was later re-sold to a firm of contractors for demolition. The demolition, to put it mildly, was far from expert and on March 25, 1967, the main tower was dropped with the use of explosives. Unfortunately, the demolition expert got his sums wrong and the tower fell the wrong way, and landed on top of the extension of Shiloh's head office block and an Electricity Board transformer.

Unable to recover damages in the normal way, Shiloh sued for the recovery of the mill site for Breach of Covenant. This involved a complicated point of law. Shiloh won in the first court, but lost in the Court of Appeal, and finally made legal history by taking the matter to the House of Lords where judgement was given in the company's favour on December 13, 1972. The land now reverts to Shiloh's ownership and, once the legal technicalities have been completed, the company proposes to sell it for development and to extend and modernize its existing Head Office block on an adjacent site.

Chapter 8

Into the Seventies

Shiloh entered the 1970's well equipped to meet the changing conditions of the trade, wanting only a fair deal from the government with its imports policy to make the sort of profits that justified the enormous amount of capital tied up in its mills and trading assets. Profits had recovered from the serious loss of 1963, but because of various ups and downs were generally not adequate to give a reasonable return on capital. The directors hoped for the big break-through in the 1970's. They decided to expand their interests into man-made fibres and in 1970 a new £100,000 acrylic spinning plant was installed at Park Mill.

By this time, Darrell Shaw had been appointed the group's deputy managing director and he took over responsibility for this new development. An A.T.I. and a Lancashire county tennis player, Darrell Shaw had been at Larch and Park for most of his textile career apart from a brief spell on sales at Elk. Appointed a director of Shiloh in 1961, he had had full responsibility for the group's condenser spinning interests since 1954 and had organised the move from Larch to Park in 1961-62.

August 8, 1970, was another black day for the company when a serious fire occurred at Park Mill. It started in the yarn storage area in the, basement and it looked at one time as if the mill might be lost completely, but, after a 14 hour battle through the night, firemen eventually got the blaze under control. The mill was saved only because there was sufficient water in the mill lodge to enable the brigade to keep their hoses supplied throughout the night. Yarn stocks and equipment in the basement were a complete write-off and the condenser spinning plant was badly damaged. Fortunately, only minimal damage was done to Parklite Insulation and the new acrylic plant, but it took nearly two years to restore the condenser plant to full production.

After a better year in 1970, the industry plunged into yet another serious recession in 1971, perhaps one of the most serious recessions of all times. Cheap imports were again rising and, in addition to this, the Heath Conservative government seemed determined to carry out the decision of the previous Labour government and remove all import quotas on textiles on January 1, 1972.

Feelings were running high in the industry. Mills were closing at the rate of two per week, and one day in November six closures were announced on the same day. So great was the pressure that the Oldham and District Textile Employers' Association, of which Shiloh was one of the largest independent members, took the initiative in launching a campaign to save the industry, the Textile Industry Support Campaign. Shiloh's chairman, Edmund Gartside, was the first chairman of this campaign, having been appointed president of the Oldham Textile Employers' Association in September of that year.

The campaign met with remarkable success. Press conferences were held, receptions in the House of Commons, booklets and newsletters were published, all describing the industry's plight in dramatic and colourful language, which all could understand. The industry's case received more press publicity and radio and television coverage than ever before. This was a time of mounting national unemployment and Prime Minister Ted Heath must have taken the situation seriously, following as it did the crisis in Rolls-Royce and Upper Clyde Shipbuilders. He immediately set up a meeting between himself and leaders of the industry in Manchester on October 29, 1971, at which Edmund Gartside was present representing the more militant section of the industry.

To give credit where it is due, the government moved more swiftly in response to the industry's plea than at any time during the previous decade. On December 8, 1971, John Davies, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, announced in the Commons that existing quota arrangements would be continued in 1972, as well as introducing a tariff in accordance with the Textile Council's recommendations.

Another battle was won. It gave the industry a temporary reprieve, although the overall import situation was still most unsatisfactory, with imports capturing over 50 per cent of the home market.

The trade situation gradually improved during 1972, as confidence grew. Shiloh's mills were able to resume full-time working. By 1973 there had been a dramatic change in the situation. Demand was excellent and there was even a shortage of textiles, and this despite the fact that imports continued at a very high level. Labour was again in short supply and was the only obstacle to achieving record productions at Shiloh's mills.

Throughout its history Shiloh has maintained a fiercely independent stance. Time and again the company has survived adversity, often using unconventional tactics and displaying a remarkable degree of ingenuity and fortitude. The fact that Shiloh exists today is in itself a tribute to generations of management, staff and workpeople. The company is one of the last remaining independent spinners in Lancashire, and proud of it. Most of the once-famous names of the Lancashire industry have disappeared. The vast army of independent mill firms which dotted the industrial landscape of the North West in the heyday of cotton has been decimated.

Chapter 9
Shiloh today

With a handful of others, Shiloh has survived against all the odds-in spite of cheap imports, economic pressures, political manoeuvring, and the grasping hands of the major groups which have seized so many independent textile companies. There have been failures as well as successes in the Shiloh story, but it is surprising how often sheer audacity has paid off. The amazing decision to build Elk mill in the midst of the twenties' slump, and more recently, to purchase Sandy mill while cheap textiles were flooding the country, are two vivid examples.

Shiloh also has a pioneering tradition. Some thirty years ago, well ahead of its time, the company introduced mill day nurseries for working mothers, works councils, profit-sharing schemes, pension schemes and welfare services. While others have chosen to remain silent, Shiloh has always made its independent voice heard in the industry's affairs, playing a leading part in trade organizations, and fighting for its rights. Some campaigns have seemed hopeless, but a certain native stubbornness and a determination never to surrender have resulted in some notable victories. The governments 'about turn' on import controls in 1971 followed an impressive Gartside-led crusade under the Textile Industry Support Campaign banner. It was the same 'never-say-die' spirit which resulted in Shiloh making legal history in 1972 when the company eventually won its case over land ownership of Shiloh No. 2 mill-but not before the legal tussle was taken to the House of Lords.

Shiloh today is in a better position than at almost any other time since it was re-grouped in 1953, confounding those who only a few years ago saw no future for an independent Lancashire company spinning predominately cotton yarn. Many believed that the industry's future hinged totally on a massive switch over to man-made fibres in the face of low-cost cotton imports from developing countries. But Shiloh's traditional belief in cotton continued and has been finally vindicated. Lancashire spun cotton is in demand again and the company's market position as specialist cotton spinners has been made more secure.

But other areas have by no means been neglected. The decision to invest in a man-made fibre spinning plant in 1970, and to extend it in 1973, showed that Shiloh was aware of the advantages of expanding into this sector of the industry. Also, the decision to invest outside textiles in the insulation industry was indicative of Shiloh's foresight and sheer common sense in trying to provide a buffer against further textile recessions. Non-textile interests have been further extended this year by the purchase of a small subsidiary company operating in disposable products.

Proud of its slogan 'An Independent Force in Lancashire Textiles', Shiloh provides a specialised service that the individual mills have always provided but which the big combines, because of the demands of their own manufacturing departments, are not able to meet. Shiloh can still provide a specialist service by producing a comprehensive range of yarns at Elk, Park, Roy and Sandy mills, each with its own management and sales autonomy.

Moreover, Shiloh believes in close collaboration with its customers. It was one of the early promoters of the idea of 'vertical thinking', a policy which involves consultation and discussion between all links in the textile chain. No longer is there great secrecy about where and into what cloth Shiloh's yarns go. Shiloh believes that to spin the right yarn at the right price requires consultation down the line, and the directors and sales managers are in touch, not only with the manufacturers, but also with the larger stores, where Shiloh's yarns reach the consumer.

Shiloh's sales efforts are not restricted to the home market. The directors have a constant eye on the opportunities in Europe. Visits have been made to several European countries promoting the company's yarns, and agents have been appointed in most of these countries. As a result Shiloh's yarns are now being exported to Scandinavia, France, Germany and Malta.

Shiloh yarn goes into a variety of end-uses, from high quality velours and corduroys to towellings and industrial fabrics. A large portion of production is used for sheetings, denims, table linens and furnishings. It finds its way into all kinds of fabrics including Coronation footstools in Westminster Abbey, curtaining in the House of Commons, tunics and breeches for the Household Cavalry, even gold-sieving cloth for South Africa.

Shiloh's sales efforts are backed by an efficient and forward-looking management team, which cares for its staff and employees. Canteen and excellent welfare facilities exist in every mill. There is an active sports and social committee, which organises a variety of sporting and social functions. The Group Training Centre is available to give first-class training to new entrants to the company. All newcomers to the industry have a short induction course in the training centre, which gives added interest to the job as well as making them more efficient in a shorter time.

Shiloh enters its second century with confidence in the future. Nearly £21 million has been spent modernizing its four mills in the last five years, and further re-equipment is planned. In addition, expansion of man-made fibre interests and non-textile activities will continue to act as a buffer against any further trade recessions.

The same spirit of enterprise which led to the formation of the Shiloh group a century ago exists to-day and the company is ready to grasp opportunities when they occur, to ensure that Shiloh continues to progress and expand, for the benefit of employees and shareholders alike.

Facts about Shiloh Spinners Ltd

PARENT COMPANY-incorporated March 2, 1953.

Share capital: £
authorised 4,000,000 ordinary shares of 25p each ... 1,000,000
issued and fully paid 2,800,000 ordinary shares of 25p each 700,000

Principal Officers:

Directors: Edmund T. Gartside, T.D., M.A., chairman and managing.
Darrell H. Shaw, A.R.T.C.S., A.T.I., deputy managing. P. H. Gartside, F. Hutchinson, M.B.E., D. Warburton, R. Watson, M.Sc., H. Wild. Secretary: L. Holland, A.C.I.S.

Registered Office: Holden Fold, Royton, Oldham, OL2 5ET, Lancashire. Tel. 061-624 8161.Telex. 667558.

Branches: Elk Mill, Broadway, Chadderton.
Park Mill, Bleasdale Street, Royton.
Roy Mill, Rochdale Road, Royton.
Sandy Mill, Schofield Street, Royton.

Employees: 945.

Products: carded cottons, condenser and acrylic yarns for doubling, weaving and knitting, delivered on ring tube, cone, beam, cheese, pirn, ball warp and cross ball. Count range: 1's to 44's ne (Tex 590 to 13.5).

Yarns used in corduroys, velours, dress fabrics, denims, sheetings, flannelettes, towels, furnishing fabrics, damasks, industrial fabrics, belting, canvas and ducks, surgicals and raising cloths, mops, dusters, rug twine and stockinette.


PARKLITE INSULATION LTD-incorporated January 5, 1965.

Share capital:

Authorised, 20,000 ordinary shares of £1 each
issued and fully paid, 10,000 ordinary shares of £1 each
50% of the share capital owned by Shiloh Spinners Ltd.

Directors: E. T. Gartside, chairman. W. M. Ross, managing.
Mrs. D. Ross, D. H. Shaw, D. Warburton.

Secretary.. R. Coop.

Registered Office: Park Mill, Bleasdale Street, Royton, Oldham, OL2 6PZ.Tel. 061-652 3111. Telex 667558.

Products: insulating materials for variety of uses.
Cold store panels and other laminated panels, in polystyrene, polyurethane, and Styrofoam, faced with coated steel, aluminium, plywood and foil. Pipe sections in polystyrene, Styrofoam, polyurethane, cork and nilflam. Packaging.

Employees: 33.

W.M. SUPPLIES (U.K.) LTD-incorporated May 15, 1970.

Share capital: authorised, issued and fully paid, 5,000 ordinary shares of £1 each wholly owned subsidiary of Shiloh Spinners Ltd. Directors: D. H. Shaw, chairman, L. Jones, general manager, W. P. Crompton, J. M. H. Owen. Secretary: L. Holland. Registered Office: Park Mill, Bleasdale Street, Royton, Oldham, OL2 6PZ. Tel. 061-633 2106. Telex 667558. Products: disposable and non woven goods. suppliers of short life products for hospitals and protective clothing for industry.

Significant dates in the history of the Group.

1871 April 21, Royton Spinning Company Ltd., incorporated. No. 1 mill built, completed 1873.

1873 March, T. E. Gartside appointed junior clerk at
Royton Spinning Company.

1874 April 29, Shiloh Spinning Company Ltd., incorporated. No. 1 mill built, completed end 1876.

1875 February 17, Park & Sandy Lane Mills Company, Ltd., incorporated. New Company purchases mill bounded by Park Lane and Rochdale Lane, previously owned by Buckley family.

1888 Shiloh No. 1a mill built.

1889 T. E. Gartside appointed secretary-Royton Spinning Company, Ltd.

1890 Holly Mill Company, Ltd., incorporated. Mill built. First yarn spun May 1892.

1891 November, T. E. Gartside appointed director Shiloh Spinning Company, Ltd.

1893 August 4, Park & Sandy directors order a telephone.

1894 T. E. Gartside appointed general manager and secretary, Shiloh Spinning Company, Ltd.

1897 Vine Mill Company (Royton) Ltd., incorporated, March. Mill built.

1899 Shiloh No. 2 mill built. Completed 1901.

1903 March 24, T'. E. Gartside appointed managing

director, Shiloh Spinning Company, Ltd.

1904 July 19, Park Mill (Royton) Ltd., incorporated.
Highfield Mill in Bleasdale Street purchased for
£7,725 at auction and re-named Park, previously
owned by Mellor family. T. E. Gartside first

1905 January 25. Two additional storeys to be added to
Holly Mill. February 16 Grape Mill Company, Ltd., incorporated. Mill built on land adjoining Vine Mill. First yarn spun April, 1906.

1905 April 6, Roy Mill Ltd., incorporated. Mill built, completed 1906.

1907 November 12, T. E. Gartside appointed chairman Shiloh Spinning Company, Ltd.

1912 Park & Sandy No. 2 and Park No. 2 mills built from same plans, Sandy in production in 1913. Roy adds three storeys to the card shed.

1914 December 31, Flywheel bursts at Shiloh No. 2 mill causing death of card room jobber and extensive damage. Two storey extension added to Shiloh No. 2 mill.

1916 Park & Sandy directors decided to convert No. 1 mill to ring spinning and to install a winding and beaming plant. T. E. Gartside appointed chairman, Holly, Vine and Grape.

1918 Capital reconstruction-Park.

1919 November, Roy Mill capital purchased by new syndicate at £23 a share. T. E,. Gartside appointed chairman. Company reconstructed under new name-Roy Mill (1919) Ltd., December 9.

1920 Capital reconstruction-Shiloh, Holly and Vine.

1925 March 28-Capital reconstruction-Grape. April 22, Park directors decided to add new storey to Park No. 2 mill and build extension to card-room, completed in 1926.

1926 Elk Mill built, at a cost of £250,000, completed end 1927.

1926 Cotton Yarn Association formed to control prices of American type yarns.

1927 July 11, serious flood causes extensive damage to Shiloh No. 1 mill.

1929 Clynes Report and formation of Lancashire Cotton Corporation.

1932 March-Park directors decided to convert No. 2 mill to condenser spinning and rename it Larch Mill.

1933 Royton Coarse Count Agreement formed, end 1934 before all companies in group had signed the agreement.

1939 July 3-J. B. Gartside elected president of the Liverpool Cotton Association.

1939 August-Cotton Industry (Re-organisation) Act.

1940 Cotton Board and Cotton Control established to control industry’s war time activities.

1941 January 8-death of T. E. Gartside. J. B. Gartside appointed chairman of Shiloh, Park and Vine. R. A. Leeming, of Roy, Grape and Park & Sandy, R. Whittaker-Holly and F. Brewer, Royton Spinning Company.

1941 June-Closure of mills under Concentration of Production Scheme. Shiloh No. 2, Roy, Royton Spinning, Park & Sandy No. 2 and Holly closed, used for storage of food.

1942 May-J. B. Gartside appointed chairman of Roy, Grape and Park & Sandy on death of R. A. Leeming.

1943 Shiloh and Park open Children's Day Nursery and Canteen.
Royton Cotton Mills Institute formed.

1945/1946 Mills reopened after war.

1947 October-Gartside Spinners Pensions Scheme formed to provide life assurance and retirement pensions for members of staff of the eight companies in the group.

1948 Cotton Spinning (Re-equipment Subsidy) Act provides Government grants for new machinery.

1948 Shiloh, Park and Roy distribute percentage of profits to employees-a practice continued until 1955.

1949 July 1-Park & Sandy, Grape, Vine and Holly amalgamated into Royton Textile Corporation Ltd., J. B. Gartside-chairman, G. Hasty-managing director, H. Hasty-sales director, H. Wild-production director. Park & Sandy No. 1 mill closed.

1953 April 1-Shiloh, Park, Roy and Royton Spinning amalgamated into Shiloh Spinners Ltd-J. B. Gartside-chairman. Shiloh No. 1 and 1a mills closed. C. B. Cummins appointed managing director of Shiloh, November 2.
1956 Holly closed. H. Wild appointed managing director, Royton Textile Corporation Ltd.

1957 August 2-Shiloh No. 2 mill engine stops following electrification of mill.

1958 Royton Spinning closed.

1959 April 24-Mr. Harold Macmillan, Prime Minister, visits Roy Mill. Yarn Spinners Agreement disbanded by Restrictive Practices Court. Government Reorganization scheme setting up a fund to finance closure of mills and providing grants for re-equipment of remaining mills. Shiloh No. 2, Park and Vine closed under scheme. Spindles scrapped in other mills and re-equipment plans formulated. September 30, J. B. Gartside retires as chairman of Shiloh. George Hasty appointed chairman. Board reconstituted.

1960 January 13, 7 per cent Preference shares redeemed by Shiloh.
February 15, J. B. Gartside resigns as chairman 1971 of Royton Textile Corporation. G. Hasty appointed chairman. March 31, J. B. Gartside resigns as director of Shiloh and Royton Textile Corporation. E. T. Gartside appointed director of Shiloh and Royton Textile Corporation.

1961 July 5. H. Shaw appointed director of Shiloh. Condenser spinning plant to be moved from Larch to Park and 16 Permo units to be purchased for new plant, move completed end 1962.

1962 June-Major structural repairs to Roy roof costing £25,000.
December-Roy Mill winding room to be re-sited and two Uniconer Automatic Winding machines to be installed.

1963 March-Larch Mill sold for food storage and distribution. June 12-H. C. Gill succeeds G. Hasty as chairman of Shiloh. E. T. Gartside appointed deputy chairman. Grape Mill closed, run out early 1964.

1964 Courtaulds buy Lancashire Cotton Corporation and Fine Spinners & Doublers.

1965 January 5 - Parklite Insulation incorporated. Shiloh taking a 50 per cent interest. E. T. Gartside appointed managing director of Shiloh.
June-Highams take over Royton Textile Corporation Ltd. July 19-Lord Rhodes, Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade visits Park Mill. Demolition of Shiloh No. 2 commences,

1966 July 13-Group Training Centre opened at Roy Mill. November 23-E. T. Gartside appointed chairman of Shiloh following resignation of H. C. Gill. February 15-Shiloh purchases Sandy Mill from Royton Textile, a wholly owned subsidiary of Highams Ltd. August 11-E. T. Gartside speaks at Rally of 5,000 textile operatives at Belle Vue, Manchester.

1968 March -15-No. 2 mill tower dropped on Head Office block causing extensive damage. May 22-L. Holland appointed company secretary.

1969 March 31-Textile Councils Productivity and Efficiency Study published. E. T. Gartside writes Note of Dissent. September 24-D. H. Shaw appointed deputy managing director. September-Group Training Centre extended by addition of machine room.

1970 First acrylic spinning plant installed in Park Mill. August 8-Serious fire at Park Mill. July 10-Purchase of 30 per cent holding in W. M. Supplies (Heywood) Ltd. October 28-P. H. Gartside, F. Hutchinson, H. Wild appointed directors following death of W. W. C. Ball. September-E. T. Gartside elected president Oldham and District Textile Employers' Association and first chairman of Textile Industry Support Campaign.

1971 October 16-Textile Industry Support Campaign launched at Press Conference in London. October 29-B.T.E.A. delegation including E. T. Gartside meet Prime Minister, Mr. Edward Heath. December 8-John Davies, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announces retention of quotas for a further year in House of Commons.

1972 February/March-Production curtailed for three weeks due to emergency regulations following miners strike. December 13 - Judgement given in House of Lords in favour of Shiloh re dispute in connection with site of No. 2 mill.

1973 Second acrylic spinning plant installed in Park

1974 January 1 to March 8-Production curtailed due to three day week introduced under Government Emergency Regulations following miners dispute.

1974 February 12-Shiloh purchase balance of capital of W. M. Supplies (Heywood) Ltd., to make it a wholly owned subsidiary of Shiloh. March 27-W. M. Supplies (Heywood) Ltd. re-registered W. M. Supplies (U.K.) Ltd.

[Transcribed by SCG. 19 September 2006]
Stanley Challenger Graham
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"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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Re: THE SHILOH STORY. 1874-1974

Post by Stanley » 15 Jan 2018, 14:49

Some articles and texts are slow burners.... I got an enquiry today from a man who is researching Tommy Gartside and had found Shiloh Story on the site. He is no academic lightweight and I think teaches law at Birmingham. Oneguy continues to fill gaps in history by pursuing what sometimes appear to be dead ends! Very satisfying........
Stanley Challenger Graham
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"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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Re: THE SHILOH STORY. 1874-1974

Post by chinatyke » 17 Jan 2018, 08:12

Thanks for bumping this, I had not found this story before. Bit busy now but I'll read it with interest when I have time. I've heard it said there was a million spindles per square mile in the Oldham area.

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Re: THE SHILOH STORY. 1874-1974

Post by Stanley » 18 Jan 2018, 04:21

Look online for 'Lancashire Under the Hammer' by Ben Bowker China. Best source on the inter-war problems. Ben was editor of the Lancashire Daily Post and an authority on the area. This lot was triggered because a book is being written on Company Law and Tax and evidently Tommy Gartside had a case with the revenue that Dr de Cogan wants to examine in more detail.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at

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

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