20th Century Industry

Textiles, Rubber & Transport

By the First World War the Borough had developed a sizeable textile industry. Mill closures hit Walton and Bamber Bridge hard during the inter-war slump, but elsewhere many mills wove on well into the second half of the century. Fortunately employment was readily available in the remarkable new factories to emerge in Leyland after 1870. This was due to local enterprise and initiative, but also a measure of geographical chance.

Faced by competition from factory looms, domestic hand weavers began to look for new product lines. Along Golden Hill in Leyland a specialism for waterproof cloths and sheets developed in the 1840s, extending into hosepipe manufacture. A trade well placed to exploit the introduction of the new wonder product India Rubber by James Quin (who is listed in the 1861 census). An early visitor to the factory was a ‘Mr.McIntosh’. Within twenty years Leyland was one of the world leaders in this new technology.

Even more remarkable is the story of how a rural community on the edge of the Lancashire Mosses came to give its name to the British Leyland. Again local initiative, in the form of a local blacksmith’s son, James Sumner was largely responsible, producing a five-ton steam wagon as early as 1880. Leyland Motors thus developed alongside a growing rubber sector and a still very substantial textiles base.

Throughout the century employment levels generally thus managed to avoid the traumas so apparent in other regions, and this goes a long way towards explaining the high level of the Borough’s housing stock. On the other hand large areas of farmland remain, particularly on the former mosses. Recently a visitor to the balmy Scilly Islands was amazed to discover that a particularly tasty salad had been grown in New Longton - virtually in sight of the Leyland Trucks Assembly Hall!

Exhibits

Click on an image for more details:

Formal presentation to J.E.Baxter Motor Car Tyre Staff of the Lancashire Steam Motor Company
Motoring Supplies Instruments used at Leyland Motors Foundry Moulder’s Tools: Leyland Motors
'Leyland Motors' - A Penny Cup of Tea! She's a 'Leyland Lady!' Selected Pages from Early Leyland Motors Publicity Material

Publicity Material: Leyland & Birmingham Rubber Company

Leyland’s industrial base benefited enormously from Government orders during the First World War. With the manufacturing depression, general from 1922, the L & B looked to diversify its product range. It was found that rubber could be used in the manufacture of an enormous range of household products to serve the spectacular growth of suburban housing. The manufacture of hot water bottles alone took up almost an entire floor of the main building. The new semi-detached style of house was perhaps Britain’s greatest contribution to domestic civilisation in the inter-war years: hot water and a fitted bath now came as standard and where there was a bath there was a need for a Leyland bath mat!

Leyland & Birmingham Rubber Catalogue 1905 'Relay' Internal Newsletter Hot Water Bottles Leyland Bathing Cap Rubber Flooring and Tiling

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