From a very early age I can remember frequent visits to my paternal grandparent’s rambling house in the small town of Reepham in Norfolk. Although born and bred Boltonians, work in the embryonic electricity supply industry had brought my grandfather and family from Bolton eto Norfolk some time in the late 1920s, where the family remained for the rest of their lives.
The house, once one of the many inns in Reepham, was a strange affair, with a back staircase leading to empty upper rooms that nobody used, complete with Victorian treadle sewing machine and china wash sets on stands, and a “back sitting room” that was rarely if ever used. But behind the ancient settee in that room lay a mystery. Wedged firmly between settee and wall was an oil painting – not one of your little ones but to me, as a five year old, an enormous one! “That’s Grandma” my mother joked. But who’s grandma? Not mine, as she was usually to be found sitting beside the coal fire in the everyday sitting room. I was too young to ask and somehow rather scared of the subject. It was a dark, dirty and very gloomy portrait of an elderly woman in dark clothing against a dark background.
I have carried out an examination of various old Ordnance Survey maps and archive material and have deduced this early chronology of the mills at Moses Gate. There is little evidence of John Phethean’s early business premises in Bolton. The earliest record at present is from 1866 where a weaving shop in Bullock Street, Bolton existed.
1850 – no mills at all except for one in the triangle between Bolton
Road, Egerton St and Gladstone Road
1872 Correspondence submitted to Farnworth Board regarding bad state of Cawdor Street by J Phethean & Co. Response by Clerk that the situation would be resolved by paving Cawdor Street. ( Bolton Evening News, Tuesday July 2nd 1872). Presumably by this date the company had a presence in Cawdor Street.
1884 ” A fire of alarming proportions broke out at two o’clock on Saturday morning at the mill of Messrs. Phethean & Sons, Farnworth near Bolton. The fire broke out in the storeroom, which had £10,000 worth of stock in it. This room was gutted, also the spinning room, but the rest of the premises were saved. Fifty spinners are thrown out of work, and damage 0f £20,000 was caused”
Liverpool Mercury, Monday, October 6, 1884; Issue 11462
1891 Egerton Mill standing – located between Egerton St and Thynne St;
un-named mill between Thynne St and Cambell St (Phethean’s Mill?)
1893 as above
1909 Egerton mill seems to have been rebuilt slightly to the west; is now between Phethean St and Thynne St. Phethean St and Thorne St seem to have been built over the site of the older mill (or part of it).
Extracts from the Company documents of John Phethean and Company Limited – Part 1
Memorandum of Association of John Phethean and Company Limited.
3 Nov 1885
(3a)To carry on the business of Spinner, Doublers and manufacturers of cotton or other fibrous materials et etc and of buying and selling cotton or other materials and yarn or cloth or other manufactured articles.
(3b) To purchase on such terms and conditions as may be arranged all or any part of the assets and liabilities of any Company, firm, or person engaged in any business within the objects of this Company and in particular to purchase and undertake the business now carried on by the Trustees under the Will of the late Josiah Phethean, trading at Farnworth and Manchester both in the County of Lancaster, As “ John Phethean & Co., “ as Spinners, Doublers and Manufacturers and all or in any part of the property and liabilities of the said Firm in connection therewith.
We the persons whose names and addresses are submitted are desirous of being formed into a Company in pursuance of this Memorandum of Association and we respectively agree to take the number of shares in the Capital of the Company set opposite to our respective names. Dated third day of November 1885:
I am working through the last years of John Phethean & Co Ltd from documents at the National Archives, which I am gradually adding to this site.
This is what happened to the company post 1924:
1924 Offices: 30, George Street, Manchester; Cawdor Street, Farnworth, near Bolton. Spinners and manufacturers of Alhambra, honeycomb, tapestry, Grecian fancy quilts and honeycomb, toilet covers, plain and raised sheets, cotton blankets and blanketings.
Spinners at New Mills, near Stockport.
Bleach Works: Birch Vale, near Stockport.
Mills: Farnworth, near Bolton.
1929 Joined 6 other manufacturers to form the Quilt Manufacturers company, which became part of Vantona Textiles. The Quilt Manufacturers company was incorporated to acquire and amalgamate 7 of the leading companies in quilts, bedspreads, covers, etc :
Jabez Johnson, Hodgkinson and Pearson Ltd incorporating George Mort and Co
Jonathan Dearden and Co, owners of James Lomas Ltd
T. Taylor Ltd
James Kippax and Son Ltd
John Phethean and Co Ltd
Henry Bond and Co Ltd
Eccles Quilts Ltd