E. & G. Hindle Ltd.
1907 - 1960
Image of Brookhouse Mill, which, like Royal Mill and Bastfield Mill was gutted by fire.
Royal Mill had a fire in April, which wrecked the tape-room roof. Two hours before the fire-brigade had it out; some wreckers had been burning through shafting over the only wooden half floor in the place, so the cause (75%) was evident, even if it could not be proved. There was a large gap between the assessor's figure and the builder's, and the settlement took some sorting out. When we sold the mill to our neighbours as it stood, we stopped arguing.
There was a fire in Bastfield engine house from a similar cause, fortunately at lunchtime, and the sprinklers had it out by the time the brigade arrived. At Swallow St the brigade came to carry a wrecker down from a crane over the engine, with a broken leg. A piece of metal had been catapulted from this accident into a pub yard a quarter of a mile away. The publican phoned the police complaining of an air raid.
The sale of remnants was on 5 July 1960 and brought in a further £2,200. There were two rings operating and a few independents. Some prices were ridiculous, some better than expected, but it thoroughly justified our decision to sell the bulk piecemeal.
On August 8th 1960 the company went into voluntary liquidation, the directors retired and handed over authority to David Norris (38), the firm's auditor, as liquidator. The whole assets with the exception of the buildings had been converted to cash, government bonds and short term loans, and Royal Mill was practically sold (39). On 16 August 34/- a share was paid out. The liquidator gave three months' notice to the directors. As I could see little left to do, I refused this and asked to be released at the week-end.
Like other employees, the directors were entitled to compensation from the central trade fund, mine was about £400 based on age. Having been, as we thought unjustly, levied for the first contribution to this fund, we felt justified in claiming it. One condition was that we were "available for employment", the only acceptable practicable proof of which was to sign on at the Labour Exchange for three months. A side benefit was that after six months unemployment, "post-war credits" could be cashed. Income tax had been put up to 10/- at the beginning of the war, with the promised sop that about 1/- would be credited and repaid "after the emergency". What this promise was worth can be valued by the fact that fifteen years after the end of hostilities the emergency was apparently still on.
The word was passed around and a glut of elderly directors unlikely to get further employment were "signing on" for the qualifying period. For a limited time they were entitled to draw the dole and have their N.H.Insurance cards stamped.
Image of Swallow Street during the process of demolition.
In my case a very humorous situation developed. After about ten days the Labour Exchange informed me I had left my employment without just cause (before my three months' notice) and would not therefore be entitled to unemployment pay (which I had not claimed) nor to have my cards stamped. Feeling awkward as usual, I appealed and was taken to the local industrial court, for the sake of about 30/- in stamps. In due course a representative of the Ministry and I sat on one side of a table, on the other the court, consisting of an employer, a trade union man, and an independent chairman. With the exception of the Ministry, we all had one of my cigarettes and stated our case. The trade union remarked it was the first time he had had a complaint of an employer sacking himself and they disqualified me for three weeks.
Bastfield Mill (40) was sold to Bancrofts, who owned the mill next door, long converted to bobbin-making. On 12 March 1963 the fifth instalment raised the total to 39/3 a share, but by the year end August 1965 part of Swallow St (41) was still held, without much prospect, and a new government credit squeeze was on. There was still about £11,000 banked with the Board of Trade, but this was chicken feed, about 11d a share, and the empty buildings just a nuisance.
Right or wrong, the job was done. In 1965 imported yardage was still well above home production and giving rise to bitter complaints which brought no government action.
In all my working life I never knew a government that was on our side. Our competitors were subsidised from our taxes. After 1946 our total taxes ran a very close second to our total wages. Free imports from India, Pakistan and Hong Kong in 1962/3 were running in excess of 500 million yds annually, about £40 million at an average price of 20d/yd. In only one of these years our government made a free gift of £50 million to India with no strings attached. In the same breath they were preaching "efficiency" to Lancashire. In 1965 India was still having famine. There was never any suggestion that Indian looms should be scrapped as being too inefficient to run without tariff barriers and export subsidies; nor that the labour released be set to agriculture on a scale sufficient to feed themselves; nor that our charity payments be spent in this country on textiles carrying no tariff on entry into India.