Catalogue Finding NumberFLD
Office record is held atCalderdale, West Yorkshire Archive Service
TitleFIELDEN BROTHERS LIMITED, COTTON MANUFACTURERS OF WATERSIDE MILLS, ETC, TODMORDEN, RECORDS (FLD)
DescriptionInclude articles and records of share formation 1889-1972; minutes of meetings 1889-1967; registers of members 1900-1966; Board and Annual General Meeting papers 1901-1971; directors' reports 1939-1979; correspondence 1837-1980; share records 1890-1987; ledgers 1846-1966; journals 1867-1981; invoice books 1883-1966; cash books 1884-1977; rental records 1852-1965; managers' report books 1844-1905; production records 1840s-1960s; building and plant records 1825-1983; title deeds for Langfield, Stansfield, Todmorden-cum-Walsden and elsewhere 1626-1990; personnel records 1842-1985, including wage and salary records 1842-1985; plans 1842-c1965; personal and political papers 1771-1965, including records relating to John Fielden M P c1834-c1848 and Poor Law opposition; Todmorden Valley Mill owners' records 1803-1948; Todmorden Unitarian Church records 1864-1912 and bills for construction of Todmorden Town Hall 1867-1875.
Date1626-1990
Extent5.52/1050 items
LevelCollection
Access ConditionsSome records under 100 years old are subject to legal restrictions on access. You will be informed of any restrictions which apply when you contact Calderdale Archives. For further information please see the West Yorkshire Archive Service Policy on Access to Records, which is available on our web site
AdminHistoryJoshua Fielden (1748-1811) was the founder of the Todmorden cotton-manufacturing firm which played such an important part in the town's development. He was a farmer-woollen weaver at Edge End Farm, Walsden, but when he saw the potential of cotton he moved to 3 cottages at Laneside, Walsden, by the turnpike and river. Here he began preparing and spinning cotton yarn. A 5-storey mill was later built, and in 1794 Lumbutts Mill was tenanted. He died in 1811 and in 1816 the name of the Firm was changed from Joshua Fielden and Sons to Fielden Brothers. The Family acquired further mills at Robinwood, Dobroyd, Stoneswood, Causey, Smithyholme, Waterstalls, etc. John Fielden was the 3rd son of Joshua Fielden and was born in Todmorden on 17 Jan 1784. At the age of ten John was required to work in his family's cotton factory for ten hours a day. When he had served his apprenticeship his father made John and his four brothers, partners in Joshua Fielden & Sons. When Joshua Fielden died in 1811, the business was still fairly small. Joshua left £200 in cash and the property and machinery was estimated to be worth £5000. Jointly run by John and his four brothers, Samuel, Joshua, James and Thomas, the business expanded rapidly over the next few years. John married Ann Grindrod, the daughter of a Rochdale grocer in 1811. The couple had seven children: Jane (1814), Samuel (1816), Mary (1817), Ann (1819), John (1822), Joshua (1827) and Ellen (1829). John Fielden's wife died of a heart attack in 1831 after seeing a child drown in the local canal. When the wages of factory workers began to fall in the 1820s, Fielden started advocating the introduction of a minimum wage. Fielden argued that if workers were paid a decent wage, this would be good for the British economy as it was increase spending on manufactured goods. He also believed that low wages and long hours had a disastrous effect on the health of the workers. As an employer Fielden practiced what he preached and paid good wages to his workers. In an attempt to improve wages Fielden gave support to John Doherty and his Grand Union of Operative Spinners. Fielden also worked with Doherty in the formation of the Society for the Protection of Children Employed in Cotton Factories. By 1832 Fielden Brothers was one of the largest textile companies in Britain and their assets stood at £300, 000. The company owned 684 power looms and was responsible for about one per cent of the total cloth being produced in Yorkshire and Lancashire. By the 1840s, Samuel Fielden, John's son, had become the dominant figure in the Fielden Brothers Company. In 1845 John Fielden purchased a small country estate, Skeynes, near Edenbridge in Kent. He died there on 29th May 1849 and he is buried in a simple grave at Todmorden Unitarian Chapel. By 1850, the firm employed 1700 factory hands at their 11 Todmorden Mills (including Waterside, Robinwood, Lumbutts, Jumb, Smithy Holme, Waterstalls, Causeway and Dobroyd) and another 200 at their mill in Mytholmroyd. In 1889, they became Fielden Brothers Ltd, and in 1956 a subsidiary "Waterside Plastics Ltd" was established. In 1966, Fielden Brothers Ltd changed their name to Waterside Plastics Ltd. Brought up as a Quaker, John Fielden had been taught at an early age to be concerned about the welfare of the people the company employed. John Fielden main political activity concerned factory legislation. Although Fielden personally believed that a ten-hour day was too long for children, he supported the campaign for a ten-hour day, as he was aware this was the only thing that Parliament would accept. In 1816 the four brothers presented a petition to Parliament that argued for factory legislation to protect child workers. It was a long hard struggle and it was not until 1847 that Parliament passed the Ten Hours Act. As Lord Ashley had been defeated in the General Election earlier that year, John Fielden had the task of taking the Act through Parliament. Although Ashley had been the official leader of the factory reformers, no one had done more than Fielden to obtain this reform. John Fielden believed that adult men should have the vote and was active in the Manchester Political Union. He established the Todmorden Political Union and in 1831 Fielden and William Cobbett were selected as Radical candidates for Oldham in the election that followed the passing of the 1832 Reform Act. Cobbett and Fielden both won easily and became the leaders of the reform movement in the House of Commons. After the death of Cobbett in 1835, reformers relied heavily on John Fielden to put their case in the House of Commons. Campaigns supported by Fielden included the six demands of the Chartist movement and opposition to the 1834 Poor Law Act. Fielden also campaigned against the payment of compensation to slave owners and supported revision of the Corn Laws. Fielden was also in favour of a national system of education under public control and always voted against measures that attempted to give financial aid to church schools. Apart from being Todmorden's largest employers, the family also contributed to the town's development in many ways. Waterside Mill had its own gas works from 1830, the first to be established by a private company, and the surplus gas was sold to houses near the mill. John Fielden was a Director of the Leeds to Manchester Railway and helped to ensure that the railway came through Todmorden, close to Waterside Mill. They also financed the magnificent Todmorden Town Hall, opened in 1875 at a cost to the Fieldens of £54,000. In 1822 Fielden was a founder member of the Todmorden Unitarian Society, a religious group active in the social reform movement. Two years later, Fielden funded the building of the Unitarian Chapel. Fielden also established and taught at the Unitarian School in the village. The present Grade 1 Listed Unitarian Church, built in 1865-69, was financed in their father's memory by his three sons. On July 1st 1872, John Fielden purchased the Grimston Estate near Tadcaster in the Vale of York. The Todmorden almanac reported: "John Fielden Esq. Dobroyd Castle, purchased by auction the Grimston Park Estate for £265,000. The bidding commenced at £106,000 and in the short space of 12 minutes advanced £160,000, when it was knocked down to Mr. Fielden." The house, situated in 600 acres of parkland, had several tenanted farms and cottages, making the whole estate some 2,875 acres. It was set close to several other country seats of the nobility and gentry, and was prestigious and convenient for Todmorden. John was eager to share his new home with the people of Todmorden. He invited parties of his employees, of members of the Unitarian Church, and of other organisations such as the Todmorden Botanical Society to picnics and other festivities in the grounds, and the cricket club played matches there. He did not forsake Dobroyd Castle, dividing his time between the two houses, and he continued with his work as Chairman of the Todmorden Local Board and as a Magistrate. The Fielden family are still the present owners. The Mansion house was sold in the early 1980s and is now converted into eleven independent residences. For further information on the Fielden Family see "Fieldens of Todmorden. A Nineteenth Century Business Dynasty" by Brian R Law, 1995. Available at the Central Library, Halifax
Related MaterialFIE, FPL, MISC:776, WYC:1206, WYC:1228, etc
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