Letterhead of Booth Bros .(Drighlinton) Ltd.

The history of Booth Bros. (Drighlington) Limited.

In the latter part of the eighteenth century, James BOOTH, born 1759, was steward for the Tempests of Tong Hall, and lived at Lumb Hall, Drighlington, Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. James was accidentally poisoned and his wife had to turn her hand to making a living for her family. She removed to Gildersome, and got some hand looms which the family worked. By some means or other the family had had a fair education. James' son Joseph (1796-1874) started weaving on his own account and employed several women as well as his own five boys, who were now grown up. Joseph himself undertook the clerical work. This firm was known as Joseph Booth & Sons.

At this time the cloth was taken to Leeds and sold at the cloth market in Briggate, where the goods were displayed on stalls. They were very careful and worked very hard. Some idea can be gained of the time they worked when I tell you it was the custom for Joseph's wife to go to the workroom just before midnight on Saturdays and say "Now lads knock off it's nearly Sunday".

Their industry was, however, rewarded and they became prosperous to such an extent that they felt they might expand. They rented a shed in Moorhead Mill, Gildersome, known at that time as Union Mill, where they had about a dozen power looms. From there they moved to a room at Low Fold Mills in Leeds.

Shortly after when they had saved a cupful of sovereigns it was their intention to build in Gildersome, but owing to the very big price asked for land they decided to go elsewhere and eventually built Valley Mill at Cockersdale, and concentrated the whole of their business there. Joseph being dead by this time, they now called the firm Booth Bros.

Joseph's third son was called Edmund (1827-1900) and Edmund's eldest son was John Israel (1854-1921). He was dissatisfied with the management and so it was arranged that the business should be sold by auction amongst those concerned in it. In 1892 it was bought by Edmund who then retired in favour of John Israel.

In 1896 Moorland Mill, Drighlington, was bought by John Israel who had now been joined by his sons William Edmund and Clifford Ashby.

In 1916 the Company was made into a private Limited Liability Company under the title of Booth Bros. (Drighlington) Ltd. Clifford Ashby died in 1935 and William Edmund retired at the end of 1944. In the early 1930's William Edmund's son Cyril Gordon, and Clifford Ashby's son Leslie Ellis joined the firm.

By 1941 the export trade had grown to such proportions that an Exporting Company known as Booth Bros. (Exporters) Ltd. was formed and Leslie Ellis left Booth Bros. (Drighlington) Ltd. and later the Exporting Company moved to Bradford.

In 1949 the 6th generation of the family in the person of Anne came to work at the Mill in the capacity of Welfare Officer.

It would seem that the firm known as Booth Bros. was founded in 1838 and has constantly made cloth, mostly of the cotton warp type. The products are sent to almost every country in the world and the list is far too long to set out in detail.

It may be of interest to know that in 1892, when Edmund Booth bought the shares, his brothers Alfred and Lewis James retired and founded the firm of L. J. Booth who manufacture cloth at Horsforth.

C. Gordon Booth
5th July 1950.

See photographs of the above 5 generations of the Booth millowners here.

1. Booth Bros (Drighlington) Ltd was transferred to Troydale Industries Ltd on 1 Mar 1960, becoming part of the Illingworth Morris Group.
2. Gordon retired to Scotland and founded the Museum of Islay Life on Islay in the Inner Hebredies.
3. Anne married Edward RUSHWORTH from Horsforth near Leeds. They, and Gordon and his wife eventually settled in Comrie in Perthshire, Scotland.

Home Return to Table of Contents
Updated 29 Sept 2007.