Untitled Document

Dewhurst Cotton

John Dewhurst & Sons Limited of Belle Vue Mills, Skipton, Yorkshire

information collected, written and submitted by David Freeman email_ghost_w.gif (109 bytes)

Family legend has it that the family is related to the Dewhurst Cotton family, so it would be remiss not to include some of their history.

Prior to joining The English Sewing Cotton Co., Ltd in 1897 Dewhurst Cotton was known as Messers John Dewhurst & Sons, Limited. The earliest records connected with cotton spinning carried on in the family date back into the 18th Century. Old account books in possession of Messers John Dewhurst & Sons, Limited relate that previous to 1785 Mr Thomas Dewhurst, of Marton, grandfather of the senior partners of Messers John Dewhurst & Sons, Limited was, in addition to farming, carrying on a trade in wool, and buying twist from Darlington and other places, presumably for the use of handloom weavers.

In the latter part of 1789 Mr Thomas Dewhurst acquired a building at Elslack, near Skipton, which he converted into a mill for the spinning of cotton by water power. The first cotton for use at the Elslack Mill was bought in November 1789, and in the beginning of 1790 the mill was in full working order, as from that time forward there are recorded large and regular sales of "twist", principally to Manchester and Blackburn. In 1813 two mills were rented at Millholme, near Skipton, for cotton spinning. In 1819 John Dewhurst and Brothers bought the lease of Scalegill Mill, near Malham, and in 1822 John and Isaac Dewhurst bought that of the Old Soke Mill at Airton, which had for sometime been worked as a cotton mill. The original Belle Vue Mill at Skipton was built in 1828. It was burnt down early in 1831, but was quickly rebuilt, and has from that time been kept steadily at work, the machinery and building being extended and perfected as was found necessary.

In 1854, the premises were largely extended by the erection of a mill adjoining Brook-street, and a weaving shed for about 400 looms and in 1860 and 1864, other considerable additions were made. In 1826, a spinning mill was built on land adjoining the old premises, and conveniently situated between the Broughton-road and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The Belle Vue Mill started out producing wollen cloth but converted to cotton when the Leeds-Liverpool canal was completed providing economical supplies of imported cotton. As seen from the new (1897) Midland Railway station, it is a handsome structure, five stories high, and 225 feet long, and built, like the adjoining mills, of good Yorkshire stone. This mill and a large proportion of the other buildings are fireproof, with lofty and well ventilated rooms.

Until 1869, Messers John Dewhurst and Sons had been principally engaged in spinning cotton yarns of superior quality for Bradford, and in the manufacture of cotton and mixed goods. In that year, the manufacture of sewing cotton was added to the business, and with the advantage of the traditions and experience of almost a century, Messers Dewhurst have succeeded in placing productions of the highest quality upon the market. Their threads, combining strength, smoothness, and elasticity are especially valued for use in the sewing machine. Messers John Dewhurst and Sons, Limited, have exhibited sewing cottons at all important exhibitions held since they commenced this branch of business, and they have invariably been successful in carrying off high awards. Dewhurst's sewing cotton is generally known as "The Three Shells brand", from the registered trade mark, in which three escallop shells form a prominent feature.

An addition to the premises was made in 1884 by the erection of a fireproof mill and offices in the centre of the establishment. This building is lighted throughout by electricity, the motive power for which is obtained from large engines indicating about 1,500 horsepower. The total area of the flooring is about 24,000 square yards, and employment is given to about 1,000 persons. The business was converted into a private limited liability company in 1888, the directors being Messers John Bonny Dewhurst, Thomas Henry Dewhurst, Algernon Dewhurst, Lionel Dewhurst, and Arthur Dewhurst. It is interesting to note that for upwards of a century the management of the firm has been in the hands of lineal descendants of the original founder Thomas Dewhurst.

In 1897 all the principal old-established and well-known English thread makers (fourteen altogether) who were not included in the "Coats'" Combine consolidated to become a powerful and wealthy Corporation to be known as 'The English Sewing Cotton Co., Limited'. From the Coats Company Chairman's address to shareholders he said "They decided to enter into closer connection with a view to secure unity of interest, large economies, and harmonious relationship and working between each other and the great Coats' Company".

The chairman of the directors of the new company was Mr Algernon Dewhurst (who held this position until 1902); while the trustees for the debenture holdings were Mr John Bonny Dewhurst, JP Chairman of the Craven Bank; Mr Frederick Charles Arkwright, JP, D.L.; and Mr G. Herbert Strutt, JP

It was thought that as the fourteen companies merged the chief danger would be the loss of its own individuality and character, however it became a point of great importance. It was because each Mill retained their tradition that the English Sewing Cotton Company itself is so rich in tradition, with all its heritage of craftsmanship and quality.

Between 1897 and 1846 the original fourteen companies were added to with four more companies. Inevitably certain of these companies have become submerged during that time. By 1947, just fifty years after the Company began, eight of the original company names had been retained to be called 'branches' forming the basis of the English Sewing Cotton Company symbol of a tree. Included in the eight, John Dewhurst & Sons Limited of Belle Vue Mills, Skipton, Yorkshire, has been retained.

additional information from Ann Lockie email_ghost_w.gif (109 bytes)


DEWHURST, JOHN BONNY, Esq. of Airevill, co. York, J.P., b.16 August 1819 (Eldest son of John Dewhurst, Esq.of Skipton, co. York, who d.27 August 1864, by Alice his wife, dau. of John Bonny, Esq. of Blackpool, co. Lancaster); m. 31 July, 1844, Frances, dau. of Nicholas England, Esq. of Colne, co. Lancaster, and has issue,

  • ALGERNON, b. 10 Jan. 1851
  • Frances Alice, b. 10 May, 1855
  • Harold, b.28 July, 1861
  • Hilda, b.21 Oct., 1864
  • Lionel, b. 8 April 1858; m. 13 Aug. 1884, Elinor,
    dau. of William Timstill, of Reelyford, Nelson-in-Marsden,
    and has a dau. Mary Frances, b.13 July, 1885.

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