E. & G. Hindle Ltd.
1907 - 1960
Image of Bankfield Mill, viewed from the canal.
E. & G. Hindle Ltd. was incorporated 25 January 1907 to take over the assets of E, & G. Hindle. These were briefly, Bastfield and Royal Mills, lease of Swallow St, and Bankfield Mill from G. Hindle. The original share capital was £65,000 in £ 10 ordinary shares and £15,000 in £10 5% cumulative preference shares.
The original shareholders were Mr. & Mrs. Ephraim senior, Mr. & Mrs. George senior, F. R. & O. H. Haythornthwaite and Ephraim H. Hindle junior. Ephraim was chairman, George managing director, Frank secretary, and Herbert and Ephie ordinary directors. George Hindle junior became a director 9 May 1908.
A "Profit-sharing" scheme under the heading of "Special Loans for Workpeople" was carried on from the old partnership. Broadly, the individual's capital investment was limited in amount, to say £75; increases were permitted as the investor's rank advanced. To help workpeople to start saving, on occasions the firm would lend them money at fixed interest, not to be withdrawn until fully paid back. Interest was a minimum of 4% and the same as the ordinary shareholders if above that figure up to a maximum of 20%, both figures tax-free. There were about 175 accounts.
In May 1908 the articles were altered to conform with "private" company regulations, and in October 1908 Manley, Haythornthwaite & Co. were appointed auditors in place of Thos Waterworth & Co. The second partner (14) was Charles Walter Haythornthwaite.
In September 1908 it was decided to build an extension to Bankfield Mill for the preparation and weaving of "Fibre Matting". This was an American idea using paper strip twisted into a yarn. It was not very successful, production being considerably higher than sales, and it was wound up in May 1913.
In November 1913 Canton weaving mill, 654 looms, was bought from Joseph Dugdale, bringing the total up to 4,577 looms and 22,000 spindles, with a potential production of three-quarters of a million yards a week.
This yardage would take some selling. A lot would go to India through Manchester. We had dealt with Switzerland since 1904 and were increasing with various other European markets, such as Italy, Poland, Belgium, Austria, Spain etc., with a very big trade, mainly handkerchief cloth to Belfast, and men's linings and umbrella cloths to Bradford. The best makers were in Lancashire and there was free access to most of the world.
View at Brookhouse, Ward Street Mill on the left and Swallow Street Mill on the right, both have been demolished.
In 1914 the war came. There was a big demand and a general upset of trading conditions, as was to be expected. A lot of cloths were made for the government. Part way through an Excess Profits Duty was levied and Income Tax was increased; though tax laws were nothing like as tight as those during the 1939-46 war. Some markets were expanded to dizzy heights; some were cut off or starved. After the war the expanded markets deflated back to normal size, and many of the starved markets had seized the opportunity, made a necessity in the war years, of increasing their own production. When, in peacetime, this production was found uneconomic, it was protected by import duties. There was a post-war boom and slump, but the rot had set in. From 1920-30 average turnover and profits were good but the Wall St. crash in 1929 (15) upset world confidence, unrest in India stopped our biggest market, and practically every export market was protecting its own manufacturers, or, worse still, juggling with currencies.
In May 1916 capital was increased to £120,000 by 3250 £10 ordinary offered proportionately to existing shareholders for cash, and 750 Preference, which were not taken up. In December 1917 it was again increased from £120,000 to £172,500 by transfers from the loan accounts, and the 750 unissued Preference shares were turned into £10 ordinary and issued at £15 each.
On 24 November 1917 a resolution was passed "that we pay Mr Robert Hindle £2 a week while he is in H.M. Forces". - No doubt teaching him to be thrifty. He was made a director in March that year.
At the same time Mr Harral, a mill manager, got £50 as Christmas bonus. One of his sons, Billy, was still a tackler (16) with us at Bastfield up to June 1950. A younger son was head of the Blackburn Electricity Undertaking, later NorthWest Electricity Board. In August 1919 all 2799 ordinary shares in Brookhouse Spinning; Co. at £25 each were bought by the firm and offered to the shareholders, who did not accept. They were retained by the firm until B. S. Co. broke up in 1937. Brookhouse was a spinning and Swallow St. a weaving mill, sharing the same yard and chimney (the tallest in Blackburn), and various other rights to water etc. Swallow St. Mill had been leased from Brookhouse, and technically continued so until 1937. Whether the production was desirable was doubtful, it could easily be absorbed. If it had passed into unfriendly hands the complications could have become unbearable. W. L. Berry was manager at Brookhouse, he later went to manage a mill in Russia.
In January 1920 the capital was increased to £275,000. Of this £15,000 was in Preference shares, £23,750 in ordinary was issued for cash, mainly transferred from the Loan accounts, and £78,750 capitalised from the accumulated reserves of the company.
We have had many agents, though the earlier records have not all been kept. Major Samuel Kinghan was our Belfast agent from 1909, one of the earliest records surviving, until he died in 1940, when his brother-in-law Balfour McGown took it over, joined in 1954 by his son Melville. In 1911 we had Benkel in Warsaw, 1914 Guggenheim in Switzerland followed by Oscar Gross, A. Schmid, Reichenbach, Chas Kuhn. Levy Freres in Brussels before 1921. Buxbaum in Vienna, the two brothers fled from the Nazis to Australia "as far away as they could get", changed their name to Buckland worked up a prosperous business importing dress goods. In Italy the Reiser family seem to have started about 1912 and various others are recorded in Norway, Sweden, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Mulhouse and Cologne.
An image of Swallow Street Mill.
New York agency started with Stein Doblin in '24, Carl Kaufman fixed up this agency in St Gall. Later E. & G. Hindle Inc. was started 19 November 1927 in New York with Leonard Stein as a director and Carl Kaufman was in charge of the business at that end when he died in 1959.
September 1925 we leased offices in 1 North Parade Manchester, which, were staffed daily till the war interrupted it around 1940. After the war we had an office in the Royal Exchange building.
In April 1931 we guaranteed an overdraft for Foster Shepherd & Co. Bradford. In November 1931 George Nelson left the partnership after some argument and in Dec 1932 E. & G. Hindle Ltd took over all assets in liquidation of their liability to us, keeping Mr Shepherd on as manager until he died in January 1957 at 80 years old, very active, and at the office when he was taken ill a fortnight before he died. Mr Dawson came in 1953, when Mr Packett retired through ill health and was made manager in Mr Shepherd's place. Through F.S.Co. we had agents in London, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Dublin, Belfast, Auckland N. Z., and Melbourne, Australia.
In Toronto, Christian was appointed in 1936, and Schuller in Montreal 1938.
It is doubtful when we first started weaving artificial silk, since called rayon and manmade fibres. E. & G. Hindle held shares in "The Artificial Silk Spinning Co Ltd" in 1898, and Chardonnet Silk Co Ltd in 1900. It seems a pity they did not pick Courtaulds Ltd instead. In 1927 we signed a bond in connection with Artificial Silk duty draw-back (on goods exported), and we had cross-dyed spun rayon checks prior to 1929 which would be spun from filament waste. The first production of new staple fibre in this country was by Courtaulds in the early 1930s, under the trademark Fibro.
Dividends paid on the ordinary shares for 1914, 1915, and half year March 1916 totalled 20½ %. After the cash increase of capital, two and a half years to December 1917, a total of 70%, and after a further issue for cash in March/April 1918, 55% for the two years to September 1919. In these days all dividend rates were free of tax.
An image of Bankfield Mill.
In January 1920 the ordinary capital was again increased, by capitalising undistributed profits and the Loan accounts. This was perhaps a mistake, as during the following eleven years 71¾% was paid, 27½% in 1920 and 44% in the following ten years, with nil paid in 1926 and 1927. Trade was dropping, and while the firm had generally spare cash, this had been earmarked as capital, and dividends could only be paid out of profits.
In February 1940 this position was reversed. One third of the arrears of Cum. Pref. dividends were cancelled by consent of the shareholders, £1 of each £10 ordinary share was written off as lost, and the ordinary shares were subdivided into £1 shares. Seven years arrears of Cum. Pref. dividend were paid in November.
In November 1942 (registered 21 January 1943) all the cum. pref. shares were repaid in full and 5/- repaid on each £1 ordinary. This left £175,500 in 15/- ordinary, no preference, and the nominal capital was written back to £275,000 with 99,500 £1 shares unissued, but ready for further expansion if and when.
The years 1930-40 were difficult. The old Indian market was gone; Japan was underselling us all over the world wherever her goods were allowed entry.
This was possible for several reasons, manufacturing efficiency being the least. Whether their sales were less than their costs is best answered by the fact that their national borrowings were still unpaid by 1959. They could start off with the benefit of our century of research. They had a closed economy and cheap labour. They had a unified export organisation and government support to sell at any price for export and full permission to recoup on their preserved home market. Some markets put on tariffs to keep them out. India put a tariff on piece-goods and found the garments coming instead. There is also the story about shirts imported at garment tariff with six-yard tails. The Indian importer cut it off and had two shirt-lengths of duty free cloth for every shirt on which he had paid the lower garment-rate duty. We joined a mutual aid rayon export scheme, bulk loom-fodder orders, minor fault complaints vetoed, cutprice yarn, weaving, finishing, and merchanting. It ran for some years with a small success.
In 1929 we bought 100 automatic looms, 10 Northrop pirn changers and 90 Vickers Stafford shuttle changers. They were run mainly on those qualities where the maximum cash benefit would accrue, poplins, jacquard (17), poplins, and filament rayons. In the early 1930's we respaced Swallow St Bottom shed (Ben Greenwood's comment - "We've made the finest shed in Blackburn and now they are complaining they have too far to walk"). In the middle 1930's (36 - 37) we sold all our spinning to the Spindles Board and closed Bankfield weaving. Many of our customers went bankrupt and by 1939 we were down to about 2500 looms, somewhat poorer but still solvent, making any kind of cloth that offered. As we could make a different construction every working day for a thousand years without going outside our range, or into fancy weaves, we had a pretty big assortment.
An image of Blackburn Technical College.
George Hindle had died 26 February 1929, and Frank R. Haythornthwaite was made managing director. His son, George Ephraim, came into the firm in 1927, and Alfred Ian Haythornthwaite started in 1929. Every director had a spell in every department and most a course at the Technical College as well. George Ephraim had a spell in the States, and Ian in Germany at A. Gutman & Son. Two sons of the Gutman family had a spell with us; there was a family connection with our Swiss agent. Being Jews, they were in trouble with Hitler, and one son never went back. Siegmund emigrated to the States with his family (18). His brother Ernst went to Dachau and though later released he was so badly treated he died on reaching the States. The eldest son Alfred went back after the war to one factory they managed to get returned.
Herbert died in June 1939 (19), and Ephraim on 8 February 1939. George Ephraim and Ian were made directors in February 1939. Overwhelmed, they asked what large increase in stipend went with it, to be told the position was honorary, but carried the privilege of smoking in the upstairs offices.
From September 1934 we rented an office and stockroom at 2 Aldermanbury Ave, in the City of London, mainly in connection with Foster Shepherd & Co. In 1940 it got blitzed and shortly afterwards Ian, on leave from the RAF could not get within four or five blocks of it for rubble.
Carl (Charles William) Haythornthwaite, son of C. W., started at the Mill shortly before the war (1939), but joined the Territorials and was called up practically as soon as war started. He was in Norway and France, later transferring to the RAF for training as a pilot. He was killed on a training flight over Chaigley, near Longridge Fell.
Ian volunteered in spring 1940, was turned down for a pilot (20) and went up in August to be a RAF transport mechanic, invalided out in August 1941 (21).
George Ephraim joined the RAF in 1943 and was discharged late 1945.
An image of Bastfield Mill.
Frank Haythornthwaite died 6 July 1947 and George Hindle (jun) (22) was made managing director, retaining his post as secretary, till he died Feb 1958.
Harry Hindle joined the Veterinary Corps straight from school and after his discharge ran some stables for a few years before joining the firm in 1953. He was made director December 1955 after his father George had been taken ill, but left in December 1958.
In January 1941 Canton was sold to Canton Mills Ltd. Bankfield had been leased and was finally sold in January 1947.
In 1940 the Government decided to release labour for munitions by cutting the Cotton Trade in half, and Royal was closed under the concentration scheme. It never ran again. It was used by Ministry of Supply for storage. After the war it might possibly have been sold as a weaving mill, but as this would probably have taken away many old Royal weavers from Bastfield (23) in a time of scarcity, other trades were canvassed. At no time after the war, in the period of rationing and until the slump set in, could we have collected at one and the same time sufficient orders, supplies and labour to reopen it. To comply with the new Factory Regulations it needed re-spacing, which also meant re-flooring and re-lighting. We had older looms at the other mills, which were scrapped and replaced by Royal looms.
In the old days the most economical factory was the one with the biggest production a square yard and they were designed with as many looms as could be squeezed in, with the minimum space between, usually 9"-10" between beam flanges at the back of a loom, and 15" at the narrowest in front. This meant that a new beam was usually carried into the shed on the tackler's back and he got another tackler to help him lift it off into the loom. Shafting was carried on roof pillars and between two pillars would be four rows of looms. To respace to ideal meant moving pillars and roof. In practice one row in four was taken out and a loom or two taken off the end of each row, reducing the loomage by about 30%. New factory regulations about 1941 made this obligatory.
Bastfield Mill was respaced in 1948. It was a difficult and expensive job. Alternate pillars were often downspouts. Subsidence had a habit of cracking drains and washing out the soil, Bastfield had a seam of sand running across underneath it. Moving looms was an obvious time to put the floor right, and the minimum interference with production was to do it two or three rows at a time, starting at one end and working through the shed. The expenditure involved required a building licence (24), the completed plan had to pass the Factory Inspector and it had to be designed to move as few shafts as possible. When the looms were moved the lights would be in the wrong position. Bastfield used gas and this was replaced by electric lights as the work progressed.
An example of a weaving loom, commonly used in Lancashire.
Swallow St Mill was re-lit by electricity 1944-5. There was a big difference between tariffs for lighting alone and lighting with power. This made it desirable to increase the electric power load and the bottom shed and pirnwinding (25) (Alhambra) were taken off the engine and driven electrically. Whether this by itself was economic was open to question. Certainly a big percentage of it was. Other advantages difficult to assess in cash were that a difficult drive to the bottom shed was done away with, a few shafts could now be moved to better positions at little extra cost, and a few rows of looms moved to the ideal position formerly restricted by the old shafting, and later we could run this shed independently of the engine.
Swallow St Top Shed needed respacing and a decision was taken in July '52. Again the floor needed repair. The recession had set in and it was decided to stop the shed while floor and respacing were carried out. The worst looms were scrapped above the surplus due to respacing and better looms moved down from Royal. Unfortunately twelve months later when we had the floor finished, the slump had not lessened, and there was no justification for starting up the 625 looms the respaced shed would hold and restarting the engine. It was decided to curtail further expenditure until trade got better, and we compromised by starting up a tackler's set of 88 looms with individual electric drives, which were ordered in August 1954. We had more production per loom off that shed than any other, but were fighting a losing battle, and they wove out in January 1959.
In February 1940 we brought in Associated Industrial Consultants to Bastfield Mill, who did a work-study and put us on a system whereby the bulk of the shed was eight looms to a weaver instead of the previous four. Their charges were high, but they were recovered in twelve to fifteen months and we learnt a lot. We had the blessing of the trade unions to start with, the standard list of wages covered this system, but this section was not in general use. In fact we were the first in Blackburn to apply it. We had a strike for a week, then got the worst opponent (26), an average weaver, and a youngster to give it a trial for three weeks. After a fortnight we never looked back. We were paying the highest wages in Blackburn in a time of labour shortage, without departing from the rates agreed between the unions and the masters' associations, and getting a higher output per operative, which made everyone happy.
Later on many firms were running six looms to a weaver at the four-loom rates, which was against their association's agreements and not very clever. When the next depression came a few years later they were in trouble. At the time they could poach labour, later they were compelled to adhere to the higher rate.
We had the same crowd in later to revise our pirnwinding, which was quite successful, though we could probably have done it ourselves. Again we had them in for a costing system, which was a complete failure.
We have used several pricing systems, but never an accurate costing. In the very old days, weavers' wages were direct piece-work; total weavers' wages for six months would usually be more than other costs on the trading accounts. Provided there was no great diversity of types of cloth woven, materials plus twice the weaver's wages was a good pricing system, it was tied to production and checkable in total every stocktaking. When cloth structures became diversified, too much averaging had to be done. Rayon, for instance, and an arbitrary 40% on list, a fair cost for one "weaving," but not the second "weaving". When we first started weaving rayon we bought it sized on weaver's beam, while the bulk of the cottons were in cop (27), and had to be wound, warped and sized. The difference in preparation costs was never more than guess work and usually ignored altogether.
Cutting across all the theories about cost and price, like the farmer, whatever the cost, we could only sell at the market price, plus or minus a few percent for hard bargaining and goodwill. Whatever we wanted to make, we had to make what we could sell.