Eccles Shorrock was the mastermind behind India Mill. He was the second of three generations bearing that name. He was the nephew of the first Eccles Shorrock, a founding Darwen mill owner. Eccles Shorrock Ashton was born in 1827 in Clitheroe. He dropped the Ashton when he was adopted by his uncle. He later had a son, the third Eccles Shorrock.
It was the second Eccles Shorrock who left his mark on the town, whose memorial is India Mill Chimney, a landmark that dominates the town just as much today as it did 140 years ago when it was built.
The Education of Eccles and Ralph
'Uncle Eccles' was the initial powerhouse behind the growth of the Shorrock Empire. He was without doubt, a respected businessman. In 1830, at the age of twenty six, Eccles Shorrock had saved enough money to buy Bowling Green Mill from the Carrs whose business had been destroyed by the mob destruction of their power looms in the 1826 riots. Earlier, in 1823 he bought Low Hill House from Samuel Crompton's son.
Eccles Shorrock would have been a boy of eleven years old at the time of Queen Victoria's Coronation Celebrations. His Uncle's patronage of this event, recorded in the newspapers may have made a lasting impression on the young boy and his brother Ralph.
'The Blackburn Standard', May 4, 1838 reported:
"Eccles Shorrock gave his workpeople a dinner to celebrate. There were 1400 workers and tenants to enjoy the Roast Beef, plum pudding, nut brown ale ...3,300lbs of food, 220 gallons of ale were consumed! The whole day was given over to jollification from 10am - 8pm."
The young Eccles would also have knowledge of his Uncle's other public duties. 1838, was the year Over Darwen Gas Company was formed. Gaslights were lit in the streets of Darwen for the first time on November 23 1839. As well as being on the Committee of the Over Darwen Gas Company, Eccles Shorrock Senior also formed a Fire Brigade, which was used for Town as well as Mill Fires. Eccles Shorrock Senior was also on the provisional committee (1843) to establish a new railway line from Blackburn to Bolton.
These examples serve as an insight into the inspiration within the Shorrock household. Eccles Senior was a man of drive and enthusiasm who was imbued with a deep sense of public spirited duty.
Eccles Shorrock undertook the expense of educating his two nephews. Eccles and Ralph were sent to Hoole's Academy in Blackburn during their formative years. Between leaving school and entering University College London they were tutored privately. 1844 found them embarking on their educational career at University College London, a non-denominational University, and both boys were brought up as Independents.
Eccles and Ralph returned to Darwen in 1848, and in 1849, Eccles formerly joined his Uncle's business, 'Eccles Shorrock & Co.' and started to learn about the Cotton Trade.
The End of an Era
By 1882, 'E. Shorrock, Bros & Co.' had gone into liquidation. The Mills were up for sale. The sons of Ralph and William (Eccles' nephews) left for India and America. Ralph moved to London. Nevertheless, some of Eccles Shorrock's family stayed on at Low Hill House. Shorrock tragically, died in Edinburgh aged 61, on 26th September 1889. His medical notes reveal that he was "steady and industrious up to the commencement of an attack", and poignantly, "he takes a great and paternal interest in some of the other parties". Local newspaper reports of his demise recorded his personal and commercial achievements and praised him for providing significant benefits for the people and town of Darwen.
Building India Mill
1860 saw the start of building India Mill and the heroic story of Briggs Knowles deserves recording. The bricks and mortar to build the Chimney were wound up in a large box by rope over a pulley fixed to the top, which of course had to be moved higher as the Chimney grew taller. One day the procedure failed. The only solution was for a man to climb up and free the pully. The man who bravely volunteered for the task was Briggs Knowles. An account of his exploits was featured in the 'Blackburn Times', 1st October 1864:
"He climbed unaided up the chimney in order to loose the tangled pulley rope. He was loudly cheered by the bystanders for the calm, collected and persevering spirit manifested by him in performing the feat."
Twenty shillings was the reward offered to this brave gentleman. The building was more or less completed in 1867, and significantly seemed to reflect a more prosperous time for the town. A Table of Works in Darwen in 1867 shows how unemployment had improved since 1861-1864. The Table illustrates that there were now were now 32 Cotton Weaving Works employing nearly 7,000 people with an Annual Production of 28,550,00 lbs of cloth.
Social dinners were arranged to celebrate the building's completion. The next enlightened step was to use the Mill in order to host the Art Treasures Exhibition in May 1868 in the hope that the money raised would finance the building of Belgrave Congregational School. The whole scale of the Exhibition was colossal for its time, and visitors flocked to Darwen from all over the North West. Click here to read more details about India Mill.
Decline in Fortunes
Eccles Shorrock left the 1860s in a somewhat triumphant mood and all harboured well for the next decade. Trade and business were on a sound footing at the start of the 1870s. The 1871 Census records that at Low Hill, resided Eccles Shorrock, Landowner, Cotton Spinner and Manufacturer employing:
122 boys under 13
101 girls under 13
(Total 1,505 people)
By 1876, this figure would have increased significantly. There was full-time working, increased sales and by March 1874 the new company "India Mills (Darwen) Cotton Spinning Co." was founded. During this year, Eccles had also been elected as Chairman of the North East Liberal Association, which stimulated his interest in politics and brought him into contact with such influential people as Cavendish, who became leader of the Liberals when Gladstone resigned in 1875.
1876 did not appear to harbour any indications of troubles ahead. Catastrophically, recession struck in 1877, catching most manufacturers unawares. There was a threat of possible involvement in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877, which began to destabilise the economy. Also, there was discontent about Taxation, and in particular import-export duties. French goods were not taxed on entry into Britain but British goods were taxed highly in France. However, by July 1877, the Shorrock business was in difficulties. An Editorial in the 'Darwen News', 18 August 1877 speculates on the unforeseen calamity of the situation:
"the disaster which has overtaken the above well known and justly respected firm having come upon the public with painful surprise ...the widespread sympathy felt for members of it ...demonstrates a general conviction of their high character and honourable conduct, and it is a significant as well as pleasant fact that this conviction is universally felt by the working classes ...the hope may be reasonably entertained that by the exercise of forbearance on the one side, and of care and economy on the other, an old and eminent firm may retain its important position as a large employer of labour in Darwen".
Sadly, more strife was to ensue. Similar effects of poverty and distress experienced in the 1860s struck Darwen once more. In 1878, the March Celebrations of the Town's Charter were muted due to the beginning of a ten-week strike against the Manufacturer's Association decision to cut wages by 10%, as a temporary measure. Rioting broke out in Blackburn and Darwen. Ashton effigies were burned. The effects of the suffering of his workers and business difficulties began to distress Eccles, heralding the first visible signs of a decline in his health and business acumen. He was sent abroad for a short period by his Doctor, thus avoiding the fierce disruption caused by the strikes and riots. Nevertheless, there was further unrest in the cotton districts between 1878-1880.
Unfortunately, it becomes evident from reports in the Darwen News that friction had been developing between Eccles, Ralph and William for some time, but this 'frisson' reached a dramatic culmination in August 1880. Ralph and William wanted to bring in the receivers and liquidate the firm, but Eccles was not in favour. Ralph and William sought an injunction at the High Court in London to prevent Eccles from interfering in the business. Eccles ignored this injunction and evaded the authorities in London. He returned North to Darwen. The 'Darwen News' of September 1880 records that Eccles ordered the extinguishing of fires, thereby stopping work at the Mill. The Town Clerk, Charles Costeker sent a note explaining that Eccles Shorrock would be in contempt of Court and imprisoned if he did not retract his stance. Eccles, in fury, dismissed this notification and continued his disruptive behaviour by ordering stopping the payment of wages and accounts. He informed the bank not to recognise his brother's signatures, and the Postmaster not to deliver any letters to anyone but him. The results of these actions were disastrous. The family was split asunder.
William Ashton states in an Affidavit of August 27 1880:
"New Mill with 40,000 spindles and 840 looms has been stopped ...in consequence of the defendant's acts. The Darwen Mill's 50,000 spindles have been stopped ...We shall undoubtedly sustain heavy losses through the defendant's conduct (and) our character and credit are being greatly impaired"
Ralph in an earlier Affidavit (August 23 1880) reported that Eccles:
"...has rendered it impossible for the partnership to continue. I have lost all confidence in him and have serious doubts as to his sanity."
Eccles was bundled out of the Town, by no means placidly on the 10.27 am train in order to avoid any publicity or contact with his workpeople who would have been released from the Mills at 12.30 p.m. on a Saturday. The account reported in the 'Darwen News' September 18 1880 was quite harrowing.
Eccles was "...taken to the station with his legs dangling out of the cab, by an indirect route, so as to avoid publicity"
He was en route to Holloway Prison where he would reside for four months, publishing a pamphlet regarding his experiences therein. A condition of his release was that he was not allowed near Darwen for the next four months. From this point onwards there was a steady decline in the Shorrock fortunes and Eccles' health.
Bibliography and Acknowledgements
My thanks must be recorded to Julian M. Marshall for allowing me to use her work cited below.
My interest in Eccles Shorrock, stems from my first meeting, in 1991 with Julian Marshall, Eccles Shorrock's Great-Granddaughter. Eccles Shorrock's eldest child, Constance was Julian's Grandmother. Julian was looking for information about her antecedent. Surprisingly, an initial trawl through the resources held in Darwen Library yielded very little about Eccles. Faced with such an overwhelming lack of material, Julian's quest to discover more about the life and times of her Great-Grandfather had begun. I am convinced that Eccles Shorrock would have been proud of her efforts in researching and compiling this study. For future students and 'Darwener's' interested in their heritage, Julian's dissertation stands as a definitive history, re-counting as it does by fictional narrative and extensive notation the many faceted life of an eminently remarkable man.
I have used Julian's biography of Eccles Shorrock extensively as my main source of information, containing as it does a wealth of resources, including newscuttings, pamphlets, maps, census returns and illustrations.
Marshall, Julian M., Eccles Shorrock (1827-89): His Biography. An Experiment in Literary Form. A dissertation submitted for the degree of Master of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts, Department of English. October 1994. West Sussex Institute Of Higher Education, an accredited college of the University of Southampton.
Death and Marriage
Very briefly, Eccles Shorrock married Sarah Dimmock on April 23 1851, but in 1853 his Uncle Eccles died, and in spite of two marriages, did not leave an heir. Consequently, Eccles, who was only twenty six, inherited, and moved into Low Hill House. He took his brothers Ralph and William into partnership and dropped his father's surname Ashton, thus becoming Eccles Shorrock. From this point, until his illness began, his business interests, civic duties, public speaking and family life would illuminate this part of East Lancashire during an age of expansion and increasing industrialisation.
A year after his Uncle's death, Eccles was expanding the firm's interests to include coal-pits, papermaking and a sawmill. Eccles Shorrock was elected to the Local Board of Health, and in 1854 the eldest of his eight children, Constance was born. The following year Eccles became a Justice of the Peace. The family business was expanding all the time. Eccles built Hope Mill for his cousin W T Ashton. In 1858, Eccles became Chairman of the Health Board. The following year in 1859, a 'New Article For Ten Year Partnership' was agreed between family members. Finally, during this period Eccles Shorrock was active in promoting education in Darwen. He was several times Chairman of the Mechanics Institute.
The Eccles Shorrock story begins in 1827, when Eccles was born in Clitheroe to Thomas and Mary Ashton. Mary was the sister of a man called Eccles Shorrock. Sadly, only two weeks after the birth of Thomas and Mary's second son, Ralph, in 1829, Mary died leaving Thomas a widower with two young sons. Thomas did go on to re-marry and also had another son, William, half-brother to Eccles and Ralph.
Mary's brother, Eccles Shorrock and his wife adopted Eccles and Ralph Ashton who became known as Ashton Shorrock or Shorrock Ashton depending upon the source. Therefore, from somewhat tragic circumstances, the two young Ashton boys were sent to live with their Uncle and Aunt who provided the foundations for their nephews' future success in public and commercial life.
The image used is a presumed likeness of Eccles Shorrock.
Events During the 1860s
Attention needs to be paid to world and social events impacting on the Town in an attempt to glean the tenor of life in Darwen during this period, and to fully understand what inspired Eccles Shorrock. The 1860s proved to be a fascinating period in the life of Eccles Shorrock, and Darwen. This decade saw the culmination of the building of India Mill Chimney, followed by the prestigious Art Treasures Exhibition (1868), set against the backdrop of poverty and distress caused by the Cotton Famine. These years seem to define Eccles Shorrock. He emerges from the 1860s as a man of vision, a powerful business force and yet compassionate and responsible to his large workforce. He worked assiduously, along with others to assist Darwen's poor and starving, with the 'Relief Effort' throughout the crisis in the Cotton Industry.
During 1861-1865 the American Civil War raged and its impact devastated Lancashire and surrounding areas dependent upon the Cotton Trade. Basically, the supply of raw cotton from the South ceased. Poorer quality cotton was imported from India. Sources indicate that before the end of 1862, the price of raw material advanced by as much as 300%, and no-one could afford to purchase at those prices.
However, some firms like 'E.Shorrock' had bought in extra raw material at the start of the war - those that did not - shut down. Spinning Mills were affected first, because they could not function without the raw material.
By October 1862, four spinning mills including three belonging to Eccles Shorrock were on short time. Weaving mills fared better to begin with. At one point, in Darwen alone over 3,300 looms were idle. The firm of E. Shorrock & Co. continued working on short time using existing stocks of cotton. However, needless to say, the distress caused to the 'laid off' working folk of the town was evident to all.
Eccles Shorrock gave £1000 towards the Darwen Relief Fund. The Company offered training to operatives in order to re-skill them for other trades. The William Street School, founded and built by the first Eccles Shorrock became a centre for assistance to the poor. The upper room was opened for unemployed youth and men from 9am - 9pm. It was warm, well lit and lessons were provided.
The numbers of those requiring assistance rose from six hundred at the beginning of 1862, to over nearly three thousand by that Christmas.
Eccles Shorrock and others on the Relief Committee gave out two thousand Christmas Dinner Tickets and William Duckworth, Lord of the Manor gave the money for a further two thousand. Tickets were also issued for clogs and coal.
There was even an attempt to persuade people to emigrate. A deputation from the Queensland Cotton Growing Company was invited to the Assembly Room in 1863. The title of the address was "Emigration or Starvation!". Life must have been hard.
In conclusion, the following two excerpts resonate with admiration for this remarkable gentleman.
The 'Darwen News' September 28 1889, sums up the sorrow which was generally felt by his death.
"We have just lost one of our most prominent, worthy and highly respected townsmen by death, whose departure, had it occurred some ten to twelve years ago, would have cast gloom over the whole district ...it is not because public esteem for him is any the less, but simply because the affliction from which he has suffered in the meantime has been of such a painful character that his removal may be regarded in the light of a happy release... Eccles was not long in finding his way to the front rank of Lancashire cotton spinners and manufacturers, and but a few had a keener, more accurate, and more thorough knowledge of the minuter details of the trade than he had. All calculations relating to the buying and selling of cotton he had literally at his finger' ends ...and it was simply owing to his wonderful speculations in cotton that the firm was enabled during the entire period of cotton panic, consequent upon the American Civil War, to keep the whole of their mills fully at work."
An unattributed cutting, which was found, pasted in his case-notes in Edinburgh states that:
"At one time... his firm were the largest owners of shop and cottage property in Darwen. Most of the shops in Market Street ...belonged to his firm ...as did all the cottages in and about William Street, Henry Street, George Street, including the William St. Schools ...The moral tone of the people of Darwen probably never stood higher than in the days when Mr Eccles Shorrock was looked up to not as the largest employer of labour, but as the finest platform speaker in the town and leader of the people in all that was noble and good."
Today, India Mill and its famous Chimney still stands as a proud reminder of Darwen's Industrial and Textile Heritage. It is fitting that the current owners 'Brookhouse Developments' have 'let' areas of this magnificent building. Employers such as Capita and the Criminal Records Bureau are now setting up business within the Mill, thus providing employment for local people and welcome regeneration for Darwen.
By Mary Painter
For many years Darwen existed for me only as a far-away childhood memory of my mother's. She and her cousin Barbara used to stay at Low Hill with their uncles, Lionel and Howard, and Aunt Kate the youngest Shorrock.
None of this seemed important until my final year at Bishop Otter College, Chichester, where, in 1989, I was reading for a degree in English. A chance discovery among old letters revealed that my Grandmother, Constance Shorrock, had been one of the first female students at Cambridge; she and two others were the "intake" for 1872! This unusual achievement came as a startling surprise to me. The idea of researching and telling the story of her three years at Girton College possessed me; fortunately my tutor gave permission for me to use this unorthodox subject for my Dissertation (A World of Women 1990).
Many questions about my Shorrock family still remained unanswered. My response was to embark on a further three years' research; my subject being Eccles Shorrock, my great-grandfather and a "cotton-man" of Darwen. To present this work for an MPhil (The Degree of Master of Philosophy) in English - rather than History - required "a strong literary element". To supply this I decided on an experimental form, a pseudo-autobiography. Eccles should "write his Memoirs" with supporting data in note form on the left-hand pages, his remembrances on the right. It was a daunting task, living on the south coast of England, when everything I needed was miles away in Lancashire. Without my contacts made in and around Darwen, who provided unstinting help with information, library searches and encouragement, I should never have completed the work (Eccles Shorrock (1827-89): His Biography).
Presently without a writing project I am spending time in my studio, trying to become a "serious artist" rather than a hobbyist! I specialise in printmaking: linocuts, screens and etching. Exhibitions will start again this year with a show at Cranleigh and Open Studios at home in May.
Julian M Marshall, 2003
Having been brought up in the Audley district of Blackburn, the name of Eli Heyworth was well known to me, particularly in respect of the mills which were just round the corner from our house on Pringle Street. I grew up in the shadow of the great Destructor Chimney on Bennington Street, just by the junction with Pringle Street. I remember well the cobbled, gas lit streets of little terraced houses with their back yards and the enormous walls of the mills where people went in their hundreds each morning and night. The great door of Audley Hall mill became "goal" for our street football when the mill was not being used. In those days I had very little idea about the significance of the man, Eli Heyworth, apart from his mill providing our football and cricket pitches.
It was much later in life that I began to take an interest in the lives of working people in that area through the late 1800s and through the 1900s.
Eli Heyworth was born in Chorley on the 16th August 1839 [i], the seventh of nine children born to James Heyworth, a Chorley cotton manufacturer, and his wife, Ann Blackwell. He was educated at Chorley Grammar School and began his career at Cross Hill Print Works [ii]. He married Mercia Hoyle, the daughter of James Hoyle, at St. Paul’s Church in Huddersfield on 5th. September 1861 [vi]. Eli came to Blackburn where he purchased the Audley Hall Mill in 1871 and later erected another large mill, bounded on three sides by Pringle Street, Dickens Street and Chester Street. The two mills had a capacity of 2,200 looms.
By that time, he had taken up residence at 109, Preston Road [iii] and was living with his wife, Mercia, and children Jessie, Albert, Mercia (later to become Dame Mercia Thom) and Maud. Sarah Hoyle, Mercia’s mother also lived with the family. As well as the two mills in Blackburn, Eli also had cotton mills in Chorley and Manchester. He was one of the founders of the Technical School and took a practical interest in the work of its pupils [ii]. We do not know where Eli was in 1881 but his wife, Mercia, and the children, were living on the Promenade, Southport [iv]. By 1891, Mercia and the children are recorded on the Census as living at Springfield, Preston New Road, Blackburn although the young Lawrence was at boarding school in Southport; there is still no sign of Eli [v]. He was, however, still very active in Blackburn as he entered the Town Council in 1874 and was nominated for the office of Mayor in 1898, serving in that office from 1898 to 1899. [ii]
Eli’s wife, Mercia, died on 28th April 1896. She was buried in the Churchyard of St. Leonard’s, Balderstone aged 57 years [vii].
On 1st June 1899 he married again, this time to Elizabeth Dugdale at the Church of St. Mary in the village of Mellor [vii]. Elizabeth was the daughter of John Dugdale, an Iron Founder from Blackburn. It would have been during this period that the family moved to “Whinfield”, off Preston New Road, Blackburn as the whole family were at that address on the night of the 1901 census [viii].
Eli died on 21st January 1904 at his home, “Whinfield” after a short illness. He was buried with his first wife, Mercia, in the Churchyard of St. Leonard’s, Balderstone aged 64 years.
Eli’s second wife, Elizabeth died on 15th May 1922 and is buried in the same grave [i].
Also buried in that same grave is Lawrence, second son of Eli and Mercia Heyworth, who died 20th January 1950.
Although he was not born in Blackburn, Eli Heyworth became one of the stalwarts of the town. He showed a great interest in the education of the young at the Technical College. He took an interest in the welfare of the area and the people who lived and worked in the Audley part of the town by persuading the Water Authority to give up the land occupied by the (now) Queen’s Park to the Town Council to be developed as a leisure area for the working classes. He was a Nonconformist and donated a gift of £1,000 towards the new stained glass window in Audley Range Congregational Church. He spent time and effort in his duties of a JP, Town Councillor and Mayor.
In death he left a very detailed will which included (amongst the family legacies) one week's wage to every one of his employees.
(My Note:- The 1888 Blackburn Telephone Directory shows “Eli Heyworth – Springfield – Tel: Blackburn 105) Perhaps he lived at Springfield but was simply out of the Country on Census night?
THE GREAT WAR
After the death of Eli, the mills in Blackburn were run by his sons, Lawrence, Albert and Harold. It was ten years after Eli’s death that the Great War started and thousands of young men volunteered to join the army to fight for their Country. This meant that the workforce of industries, including the cotton industry, was greatly reduced for a number of years. A memorial book of the men of Eli Heyworth & Sons published after the war tells us that 165 men from that Company went off to war, of whom 24 did not return.
The details of those who died are attached and the names of each soldier are also included on the Blackburn Roll of Honour.
After the war the Company continued to trade although it never recovered to the levels prior to the war. Overseas customers of textile products had been lost and trade was difficult. It was in 1932 that Eli Heyworth and Sons Limited went into voluntary liquidation. The London Gazette of 4th. November 1932 carried the following article:-
ELI HEYWORTH & SONS Limited.
(In Voluntary Liquidation.)
The Companies Act, 1929.
NOTICE is hereby given that at an Extra- ordinary General Meeting of the Members
of the above named Company, duly convened, and held at the registered office, Audley Hall Mill, Blackburn, on Monday, the 31st day of October, 1932, the following Extraordinary Resolution was duty passed: —
(a) " That the Company cannot, by reason of its liabilities, continue its business, and that it is advisable to wind up the same, and accordingly the Company be wound up voluntarily, and
(b) " That Mr. Edward Rudd, of Central Buildings, Richmond Terrace^ Blackburn, Chartered
Accountant, be and he is hereby appointed the Liquidator for the purposes of such winding-up."
At a Meeting of the creditors of the above named Company, duly convened, and held pursuant to section 238 of the Companies Act, 1929, on Tuesday, the 1st day of November, 1932, the appointment of the above named Edward Rudd as Liquidator was confirmed.—Dated this 2nd day of November, 1932.
(297) L. HEYWORTH, Director. [ix]
[i] Gravestone Inscription
[ii] George C. Miller.
[iii] 1871 Census
[iv] 1881 Census
[v] 1891 census
[vi] Marriage Certificate
[vii] Parish Register
[viii] 1901 Census
[ix] London Gazette 4th. November 1932
Eli Heyworth's marriage certificate to Mercia Hoyle
Eli Heyworth's marriage certificate to Elizabeth Dugdale
Eli Heyworth's Employees who made the Supreme Sacrifice during the Great War.
Private Peter ABBOTT
G/21985 2nd. Btn. Royal Sussex Regiment (also 27347 Northumberland Fusiliers)
Died 9th. April 1918 - Buried in Cambrin Military Cemetery
Peter was killed when his battalion were stood to in battle positions on the Noyelles-Grenay Line. The enemy opened up with an intense bombardment. The war diary for that date states “Casualties were chiefly from gas shell, the enemy employing mustard, and both blue and yellow cross shells.” Casualties were two officers and 12 “other ranks”, of which Peter would have been one.
Peter was the son of James and Margaret Ann Abbott. He was born in Blackburn in 1890. In 1911, Peter was living with his widowed mother at 12, Curzon Street, Blackburn and was working as Mule Spinner at the Audley Hall mill of Eli Heyworth. His name is remembered on the memorial at St. Philip’s Church, Blackburn.
Sergeant William ASPINALL
47806 13th. Btn. Royal Iniskilling Fusiliers.
Died 27th. August 1918 – Buried in Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension, Bailleul.
France, Casualties of WW1 1914 – 1922.
William was the son of William H. & Jane Aspinall of 10, Shadsworth Road, Blackburn, Lancs. Husband of Mary Alice Clough (formerly Aspinall) of 16, Blakey Street, Blackburn, Lancs.
William was born in Preston in 1879 and by 1911, he was living with his wife, Mary Alice, at 68, Walter Street, Blackburn. He was working as a Postman at that time. When he enlisted in Blackburn, he was working at the Audley Hall Mill of Eli Heyworth.
Private James BOLTON
14001 8th Btn. King’s Own Scottish Borderers.
James Bolton was killed in action on the first day of the battle of Loos. He has no known grave but is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.
Died 25th September 1915.
James had married Mina Mackereth in 1913 in Blackburn.
James was living at 60, Lancaster Street, Blackburn and was an employee of Messrs. Eli Heyworth & Sons.
Private William Lawrence BROWN
352746 - 1ST/5th Btn. Manchester Regiment.
Died 2nd. September 1918 - Buried at Manchester Cemetery, Riencourt-Les-Bapaume.
William was killed in action as his unit attacked the German positions at Villers au Flos. He would have been counted amongst the 23 “other ranks” listed as killed in that action.
William was born in Blackburn in 1897. In 1911, was living with his parents, William & Dorothy at 77, Dickens Street, Blackburn He was working as a Cotton Weaver at Eli Heyworth’s Chester Street Mill when he joined the army in September, 1916. He was wounded in October, 1917 and returned to France in February the following year. He was a regular attender of Oxford Street Methodist Church.
Private Mark CARTER
2914 - 1st/4th Btn. East Lancashire Regiment.
Mark was presumed killed after an action against the Turks on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 12th/13th August 1915. He is listed amongst almost 100 soldiers of the East Lancashire Regiment killed in that action and listed in the Battalion War Diaries. He has no known grave. His name is commemorated on the Helles Memorial and at Audley Range Congregational Church. He was reported as “missing” in the Audley Range Church newsletter of that date, being a regular member of the Church. Mark was employed at Eli Heyworth’s Audley Hall Mill.
In 1911, Mark lived with his mother, May & step father, Eli at 131, Walter Street, Blackburn.
Private John COCKER
242623 - 1st/5th Btn. King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment)
John died of wounds 29th May 1917 at the Auxiliary Hospital, Liverpool. He was buried in Blackburn Cemetery CE M 6727
John was born in Chorley in 1878. By 1911 he was living with his wife, Margaret Alice, and his children at 9, Salisbury Street, Blackburn. He was working as a Cotton Weaver at Eli Heyworth’s Audley Hall Mills. He left his wife and four daughters.
Corporal John Arthur CRONSHAW
25892 - 2nd Btn Border Regiment.
John died of wounds at a clearing station in Italy on 3rd. November 1918 Buried at Giavera British Cemetery Arcade, Italy. (Plot 5, Row A, Grave 5)
John was born in Blackburn in 1893. In 1911, he was living with his parents, Nelson & Mary Ellen Cronshaw, at 97, London Road, Blackburn and was working as a Reacher at Eli Heyworth’s Audley Hall Mill. In 1916 he married Maggie Mayman at St. Stephen’s Church, Blackburn. Administration of his estate was proved on 13th January 1919 to Maggie Cronshaw, his widow.
Private William DISLEY
242786 - 9TH. Btn. East Lancashire Regiment
William joined the Army in March 1916 and first saw service in Egypt and later in France where he contracted Trench Fever. On recovery, he was transferred to Salonika.
William died of wounds on 5th. April 1918. He was buried at Karasuoli Military Cemetery. (Grave Ref: A98).
William was born in 1886, a son of James & Mary Disley. By 1911 he lived at 122, Queen’s Park Road with his parents, his sister Ellen, his brother Arthur and his nephew, Herbert. He was a Cotton Weaver at the mill of Eli Heyworth & Sons Ltd. He was a member of the choir at Blackburn Weslyan Mission where his name is on the Roll of Honour.
Private James DUCKWORTH
2054 - 1ST/4TH Btn East Lancashire Regiment.
James was killed in action in Gallipoli on 13th. August 1915 He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial and at Christ Church, Blackburn.
James was born in Blackburn in 1882, the son of James & Mary Duckworth. By 1901 he was living with his widowed mother at 22, Lucknow Street, Blackburn and was working as a railway porter. By 1911 he was living at 27, Maudsley Street, Blackburn with his wife and young son, William. James was an old territorial and was one of the first to enlist when war broke out. James was a labourer at the Audley Hall Mill of Eli Heyworth & Sons Ltd.
Private James GROGAN
37039 (also served as 6381) 8TH. Btn East Lancashire Regiment.
Died 25th. April 1917 Commemorated on the Arras Memorial (Bay 6) and on the Roll of Honour at St. Peter’s Church, Blackburn.
James was born in Blackburn in 1882, the eldest child of William and Mary Ellen Grogan. In 1911, he was living with his parents, at 8, John Bright Street, Blackburn and was working as a Cotton Spinner. Later in that year, James married Mary Haworth in Blackburn. When he enlisted in 1916, he was living with his wife and two daughters, Winifred & Monica at 37, Walter Street, Blackburn. He was drafted to France in January 1917. Prior to enlisting he was employed in the weft dept. at the Audley Hall Mill of Eli Heyworth & Sons Ltd. As a boy he was connected with St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church and later with St. Joseph’s Church where his name is on the Roll of Honour.
Private Absalom HAWORTH
G/2260 7th Btn. Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)
Died 2nd July 1916 Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial (Pier & Face 11C) and at Blackburn Cathedral & Christ Church, Blackburn.
Absalom was born in Blackburn in 1891 and by 1911 was living at 93, Rockcliffe Street with his parents William Henry & Jannet, his twin brother, John and his sister Margaret. He was a Cotton Weaver by trade working at the Audley Hall mill of Eli Heyworth.
Absalom enlisted in 1914 but it was not until 1916 that his unit became part of the Battle of Albert, the First Battle of the Somme. It was on the 2nd July that he was killed in a major assault South of Thiepval. He has no known grave but is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.
Private Jesse HULL
13639 7TH Btn. King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
Died 25th July 1916 Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial (Pier & Face 12A & 12D)
Jesse was born in Blackburn in 1884. By 1911 Jesse was living with his parents, James & Sarah Ann, and five other siblings at 35, Baines Street. Jesse was working as a Cotton Weaver at Eli Heyworth’s Audley Hall Mill and had a strong association with St. Matthew’s Church. On enlisting in 1914, he gave his parent’s address as 157, Bolton Road, Blackburn.
In 1916, his unit were involved in a number of actions at Delville Wood, Longueval and Pozieres where he was killed. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Private John Joseph LEONARD
201838 1st/4th Btn East Lancashire Regiment
Died 5th May 1917 Buried at Ste. Emilie Valley Cemetery, Villers Faucon (IV. C. 19)
John was the son of Mrs. Sarah Ann Leonard of 186, Audley Range, Blackburn. In 1911 John (wrongly listed as Joseph in the 1911 census) was working as a cotton weaver.
Sergeant Francis Joseph SCHOLLICK
5964 1ST Btn King’s Royal Rifle Corps.
Died 30th October 1914 Commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
(Panels 51 – 53) and at St. Alban’s Church, Blackburn.
Francis was born in Blackburn in 1886. He was a son of Henry and Maria Schollick of 11, Lower Audley Street, Blackburn. He married Annie Riley in Blackburn in 1912. In 1911 he was living with his widowed father at 4, Fielden Terrace, Cherry Tree and was working in the winding room at Eli Heyworth’s cotton mill. His effects went to his widow, Annie.
Private Thomas SINGLETON
Died 20th October 1916 Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial (Panels 1A & 8A) and at Oxford Street Methodist Church, Blackburn.
Thomas was born in Blackburn in 1894. In 1911 he was living with his mother, Eliza, and three siblings, Edward, Minnie & Emily at 58 Walter Street, Blackburn. He was working as a Cotton Weaver at Eli Heyworth’s Audley Hall Mill. His unit was involved in the battle of Albert and then at the battle of Transloy Ridges. It was here that he was killed by a shell during an attempt to repair telephone wires under fire. Prior to enlisting he was a prominent member of the YMCA and a regular worshiper at Oxford Street Primitive Methodist Church.
Lance Corporal Harry WALTON
16885 8TH Btn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
Died 18th September 1918 Buried at Karasouli Military Cemetery (F 1240)
Commemorated on the Memorial at St. Matthew’s Church, Blackburn.
Harry (baptised “Henry”) was born on 10th November 1891 and baptised at St. Matthew’s Church on 21st February 1891. He was the son of William & Alice Walton of Scotland Road, Blackburn. By 1911, he was living with his parents at 130, Lambeth Street, Blackburn. Prior to enlisting in 1914, Henry was working as a Reacher in the Audley Hall Mill of Eli Heyworth. He had been in Salonica for more than three years. His Officer said “I feel his loss particularly myself, as he had been in my Company for one and a half years. I have always known him to be the perfect soldier.
Private Robert WOOD
50685 17th Btn. The King’s (Liverpool Regiment).
Died 29th April 1918 Buried at Voormezeele Enclosure No. 3 (XIV.F. 25)
He is commemorated on the memorial at St. Matthew’s Church, Blackburn
Robert was born on 13th May 1898 and baptised at St. Matthew’s Church, Blackburn on 12th June 1898. His parents were Edward & Maria Wood of 54, Dewhurst Street. By 1911 the family had moved to number 40 Dewhurst Street and Robert was at school and Part Time in Eli Heyworth’s Audley Hall Mill. The soldier’s effects were sent to his mother, Maria.
With grateful thanks to Brian Houghton who researched the article and provided the images and photographs, October 2015.
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