How Samuel Courtauld and Co. shaped our towns and villages
Some further aspects of our Industrial Heritage – by Adrian Corder-Birch
This is the third and final article in the series about our industrial heritage. The first article in April 2017 was mainly devoted to extractive industries, the second in April 2018 looked at industries relating to agriculture and both included manufacturing industries. This final article considers some remaining industries, particularly manufacturing industries, together with industrial housing and Local Heritage Lists.
Isinglass and Gelatine
Making An unusual industry associated with Coggeshall was Isinglass (a substance obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish. A form of collagen used mainly for clarification of beer and wine) and Gelatine making, which flourished during the last half of the nineteenth and into the early twentieth centuries. A bye-product of this industry was glue-making.
Mat and Rope Making
Ashley Adkins & Co., of Bocking, founded in 1825, which chiefly made mats, also made some rope. In 1902 they established another factory in Cavendish. In the Sudbury area, during the nineteenth century, there were five firms engaged in the coconut mat and matting industry. During the inter war years, J. Holdsworth & Co., and Charles B. Smith were coconut matting manufacturers at Glemsford. The largest was Armes & Son in Cornard Road, Sudbury which opened in 1884 and survived until 1969.
Paper making started about 1828 at Greenstead Green by William Riddle and was continued by W & T Bentall. In 1870 Alfred Potter purchased the plant and established the Halstead Paper Mills Company Limited in Chapel Street, Halstead, which made about 20 tons of paper a week until 1889.
The printing industry was active in Halstead and Sudbury. Carter & Son started the Halstead and Colne Valley Gazette in 1857, which was continued by W. H. Root Limited at the appropriately named Caxton Works. A competitor, the Essex and Halstead Times was founded in 1861, but in 1920 was absorbed by the Halstead Gazette. In Sudbury the Free Press has been printed since 1855.
The seed growing industry centred upon the Coggeshall and Kelvedon area for two hundred years was also active in the Hedinghams during the mid-nineteenth century. In 1906 Frank Martin established his seed growing business at Lodge Farm, which later extended to Millbrooks Farm, Colne Engaine. The business was active throughout the majority of the twentieth century and closed during the 1980s. Flax A flax factory, known as English Flax Limited, was established at Glemsford during the Second World War and operated for the Ministry of Supply. Flax was grown over a wide area and seed and waste products used in animal feed were supplied.
The manufacture of whitening, from lime, used for whitewashing walls and ceilings was carried out at Great Henny, Wickham St. Paul and Sudbury. One manufacturer was David ‘Whiting’ Turp who made whitening at Wickham St. Paul and continued his trade when he moved to Sudbury.
Horsehair Weaving Industry
The horsehair weaving industry flourished in Glemsford, Hadleigh, Lavenham and Long Melford. The horsehair, from manes and tails, was dressed for brush making and used for stuffing in upholstery. During the inter war period there were four horsehair manufacturers in Glemsford alone, namely Joseph Tompkins & Sons Limited and Arnold & Gould, with Alexander & Sons specialising as seating manufacturers and Andrew Arnold as hair cloth manufacturers. The last surviving horsehair factory belonged to Arnold and Gould where about 70 people were employed as recently as 1973.
The wool trade flourished in Essex and Suffolk for several centuries, but gradually declined during the eighteenth and into the early nineteenth centuries. As it disappeared the silk industry expanded and largely replaced it. Textile mills existed at Pebmarsh, Halstead, Bocking, Earls Colne, Coggeshall, Glemsford, Sudbury and Castle Hedingham. The principal manufacturer was Courtaulds whose main product during the second half of the nineteenth century was mourning crepe, which was followed by diversifying into artificial fibres. Their first mill at Pebmarsh operated from 1799 to 1809 and was later occupied by E.L. & H. Roddick, silk throwsters until 1883. The mill was demolished in 1893 although the adjacent Mill House is still occupied. The Townford Mill at Halstead was built in 1788 for grinding corn. In 1825 it was converted by Courtaulds for silk production. They constructed several more buildings in the vicinity and eventually employed about 1400 in Halstead alone. The factory closed in 1983 following which some buildings were demolished but the original mill survives and is now an antiques centre. Apart from Courtaulds there were other silk manufacturers in Halstead during the early nineteenth century namely John Davies in the High Street and Jones and Foyster in Parsonage Street.
At Earls Colne, Courtaulds constructed a purpose built mill in 1884 for mourning crepe, which they later used for weaving artificial silk, until closure in 1925. It was later used by R. Hunt & Co. Limited for a store and still remains in light industrial use and is in a Conservation Area. In Coggeshall, John Hall & Son were silk throwsters at West Street, Abbey Mill and Gravel Mill. Lace-making was also carried on at Coggeshall and in the nearby villages of Chappel, Marks Tey and Great Tey.
During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries there were silk throwsters in Sudbury and Glemsford employing many people. In 1840 there were no less than four silk weaving factories in Sudbury employing about 500 people, which increased to over 850 by 1851. During the latter half of the nineteenth and into the twentieth centuries, new businesses continued to be attracted to Sudbury. The Gainsborough Silk Weaving Co. Limited was established in 1903 and in 1925 opened a newly built factory in Chilton. During the 1920s, Anderson & Robertson Limited were silk throwsters in Glemsford. Other well-known silk manufacturers were Daniel Walters & Sons in North Street (also at Braintree), Stephen Walters & Sons in Acton Square and Vanners at Glemsford. In 1971 Richard Humphries re-assembled some old hand looms in Sudbury and in 1975 moved them to a former school at Castle Hedingham. The Humphries Weaving Company operated the De Vere Mill for some years and was one of the last handloom silk weavers in the country. He also operated in the Courtauld’s Mill at the Causeway, Halstead 1961 27 Halstead Cottage Hospital built by George Courtauld in 1884 Homes of Rest at Earls Colne built by Reuben Hunt Bocking Village Hall, built by Samuel Augustine Courtauld restored Warner Mills in Braintree before returning to Sudbury Silk Mills in 2004 where production continues.
Some of the industrialists referred to in this and the two previous articles, built houses for their employees. The most outstanding architecturally were built by Samuel Courtauld & Co., and by various members of the Courtauld family at Halstead, Gosfield, Bocking, Braintree, Blackmore End, High Garrett, Penny Pot, Colne Engaine, Wakes Colne and one farmhouse at Sible Hedingham. These were built in various styles from the 1850s to the 1950s. Some of the earliest cottages were built by Samuel Courtauld in Gosfield and High Garrett. He also built Gosfield Primary School in 1858 and the Reading Room. The five pairs of cottages in Church Street, Bocking and the sixteen three-storey dwellings in Factory Terrace, Halstead were designed by John Birch, an architect, who specialised in country cottages and built in 1872. They were followed in 1883 by a row of twelve two storey houses in the Causeway, Halstead designed in Queen Anne style by George Sherrin. He was also the architect for the Workmen’s Hall in Bocking and Halstead Cottage Hospital built by George Courtauld in 1884. During the 1920s and 1930s over fifty houses were built by Samuel Augustine Courtauld in Halstead, with more in Blackmore End. They were designed in the Arts and Crafts style by Coldwell, Coldwell and Courtauld, architects, who also prepared plans for houses built by other members of the family. Almshouses for retired employees such as twenty Courtauld Homes of Rest, Hedingham Road, Halstead, were built by Samuel Augustine Courtauld in 1923. He also built the Village Halls at Bocking and Blackmore End and Katherine Mina Courtauld built the Village Hall at Colne Engaine.
In Earls Colne, Reuben Hunt of R. Hunt & Co., agricultural engineers’ built a significant number of houses for employees between 1872 and 1911, including almshouses for retired workers. These are found in Halstead Road, Hayhouse Road, Foundry Lane, Burrows Road and York Road. He also built houses in Brook Road and other locations in Great Tey from 1895 to 1910. The Hunt family, like the Courtauld family, also erected a number of community buildings.
At Marks Tey, W. H. Collier Limited, brick-makers, built four houses and a bungalow in Church Lane for employees. Similarly in Sible Hedingham, Mark Gentry, another brickmaker, built twelve houses in Wethersfield Road for his employees during 1886 and 1887. In 1890 he built four houses in Nunnery Street, Castle Hedingham. All these houses contain some fine ornamental brickwork.
During the inter war period, Rippers Limited, joinery manufacturers built fourteen wooden bungalows in 1920-21, which were demolished in the 1970s, followed by 94 semi-detached houses between 1924 and 1928, located in Swan Street, Brook Terrace, Crosspath, Station Road and Yeldham Road.
Examples of dwellings associated with public utilities are a house in Colneford Hill, White Colne built in 1864 for the manager of the former Earls Colne Gas Light and Coke Company and two pairs of houses by the former Halstead Rural District Council at the Drawwell, Great Yeldham for employees of the water pumping station.
Local Heritage Lists
A few of the industrial buildings and houses mentioned in this and the two previous articles are already on the National Historic List for England register of listed buildings and hence have statutory protection. Many other buildings are in Conservation Areas and/ or included on Local Heritage Lists. In 2015 the author was elected onto the Braintree District Local Heritage List Panel, which initially considered all buildings associated with the Courtauld companies and family in the district. The Panel made recommendations to the Planning Committee of Braintree District Council and as a result the majority of Courtauld buildings in the district have been included on the Local Heritage List. ‘Local Heritage Listing is a means for a community and a local planning authority to identify heritage assets that are valued as distinctive elements of the local historic environment. It provides clarity on the location of assets and what it is about them that is significant, helping to ensure that strategic local planning properly takes account of the desirability of their conservation’. Upon the application of the author, Colchester Borough Council has since included on its Local Heritage List some of the farm workers cottages built by Dr. Richard Minton Courtauld in Crepping Hall Road, Wakes Colne during the 1930s. The Local Heritage Lists in the Braintree District and Colchester Borough Council areas continue to consider industrial and other buildings of architectural and/or historic importance to provide some protection for our heritage. Commemorating our industrial heritage During the last couple of decades, architects and planners have become increasingly aware of the importance of our rich industrial heritage. This has occurred where surviving buildings have been incorporated into developments particularly in Halstead and Earls Colne. In addition artwork, with local industrial connections, has been included in developments at Earls Colne, Halstead and Sible Hedingham.
Adrian Corder-Birch is a founder member and Vice Chairman of Essex industrial Archaeology Group, which is a sub group of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History of which he is the Immediate Past President. He is a Deputy Lieutenant for Essex and Chairman of the Editorial Board of Essex Journal. His many other positions include being the Clerk to Little Yeldham, Tilbury Juxta Clare and Ovington Parish Council since 1971 and Clerk to the Trustees of the Courtauld Homes of Rest since 2004. He is Patron of Halstead and District Local History Society and a member of Hedingham Heritage Society. He is an active member of the British Brick Society and of The Association for Industrial Archaeology. He has been a member of the Colne-Stour Countryside Association for many years and became a Life Member in 1988. He is the author of the following books: ‘Our Ancestors were Brickmakers and Potters – a history of the Corder and related families in the clayworking industries’ in Gestingthorpe, Castle and Sible Hedingham, Gosfield, Great Yeldham, Bulmer and other locations. ‘Bricks, Buildings and Transport – A history of Mark Gentry, the Hedingham red brick industry, buildings, road and rail transport’ ‘Whitlock Brothers – A history of the family, farms, forage works, foundry and factory at Great Yeldham’ He is joint author, with his wife Pam, of ‘The Works – A history of Rippers Joinery Manufacturers of Castle and Sible Hedingham’ The above books are available from: Adrian Corder-Birch, Rustlings, Howe drive, Halstead CO9 2QL price £14.95 each plus £2.95 p&p. Cheques in English pounds sterling payable to: Adrian Corder-Birch. Any enquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org