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Leigh Spinners had to change with the times to last 100 years
10:00am Thursday 19th September 2013 in News
This week the Journal’s Sophie Arnold goes behind the scenes at Leigh Spinners, which is celebrating 100 years in the town.
FOR 100 years the iconic chimney of the Leigh Spinners’ mill has towered over the town.
The mill was built by John Horricks, a former cotton yarn salesman, in 1913 with money from local people and a wool mill in Yorkshire, the business did well and in 1923 the second mill was added.
They suffered through the Great Depression with John’s son Arthur Horrocks entering the business in 1934.
The mill thrived after the Second World War, paying back its debts and acquiring two tufting machines but by 1959, the cotton industry was starting to struggle under the weight of cheap foreign imports.
Managing director John Morrison said: “At that time we were owed some money by a tufting company which didn’t have the money to pay us so gave us two tufting machines instead which we used to tuft carpets.
“Domestic carpets was a very fruitful business for us indeed up until 2005.”
The company started to manufacture tufted carpets in 1967 and it quickly became its main activity as cotton spinning was finally abandoned in 1972 and yarn for carpets was spun instead.
“In the mid 80s we purchased an unwoven machine that makes carpet tiles and contract flooring and we also got involved with a company that made unwoven sports turf. We made those successfully and still do,” John said.
As the domestic carpet industry declined and the company struggled to compete with foreign markets, they began to move more and more towards making artificial turf and in 2009, stopped the manufacture of tufted domestic carpets altogether.
In 2005, the spinning room was closed and the company took the bold step of converting some of its tufting machines to produce synthetic grass.
By adapting and changing with the demand of modern markets and competition from emerging foreign industry, the mill has managed to survive.
John said: “To have had 100 years in manufacturing in this town is quite some feat.
“I’m not saying it has been easy because it hasn’t, we have had to change over a long period of time from cotton to spinning yarns to tufting carpets to making woven carpets and from there to making unwoven sports and then tufted sports and domestic grass.
“We have had to change and when things change again so will we so we can keep going for another couple of years. It hasn’t been easy but we are still here and we still want to wave the flag.”
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