« PoprzedniaDalej »
XXXII. The Crossleys of Halifax
FORTUNES MADE IN BUSINESS.
PLATT BROTHERS & CO. LIMITED, OF OLDHAM.
ROM a remote past there has descended to us a quaint ballad, the leading sentiment of which is expressed in the
"Of o' sorts o' places,
An' o' sorts o' faces,
It's Owdham, brave Owdham, for me."
This love of place has always been a strong feature of Oldham life, and has had much to do with the building up of the town's prosperity. The people of Oldham are firmly convinced that no other spot in the wide world contains so many of the true elements of greatness as their own borough, and, within certain limits, it must be confessed, they are not without warrant for that opinion. Oldham has the largest number of limited liability companies of any manufacturing town in the Kingdom; Oldham possesses the wealthiest working-class population in the world; Oldham owns the most extensive machine works that have ever been established anywhere. These are facts which Oldham justly prides itself upon, and thus the refrain gets handed on, and "Owdham, brave Owdham, for me" continues to be said and sung from generation to generation, and, great as the town's past has been, it looks forward with eager confidence to a future that shall be still greater. In Oldham, more perhaps than in any other place, you see evidence of a reciprocal faith and trust; the immense army of workers which constitute its population believe in each other, help each other, co-operate with each other; the interests of employers and employed are acknowledged to be identical; thus, from year to year, the town goes on extending its industrial borders, increasing its material prosperity, and improving its intellectual life. True, it feels the ebbs and flows that mark the course of trade, in the textile branches, but, in spite of all fluctuations, its general record is one of steady
Oldham has been fortunate in having attracted to itself during the early years of the steam machinery era several men of indomitable energy and foresight-men who were able to see the
VOL. XLVII. NO. CCLXXVII.
Fortunes Made in Business.
vast opportunities for development which this new power presented-men who, with strong inventive gifts of their own, could keep well abreast of the time in mechanical improvements, and who ultimately obtained for their efforts that full recognition of success which can only be bestowed when a very foremost position has been reached. Such efforts have been those which have resulted in placing the firm of Messrs. Platt Brothers & Co., of Oldham, as the first in the world in the magnitude of their operations in the production of machinery. This firm have set their mark upon Oldham in such strong lines that the stranger within its gates cannot fail to observe and be impressed by the fact. Above all the dinginess of the brick streets, the loftiness of the brick factories, the canopy of gloom created by the smoke, and the noise and bustle of the vehicular traffic, the evidences of the business activity of this firm are made manifest. On one side of the town they have an establishment at which 6,000 hands are employed; on the other they have a concern at which about 3,000 are engaged; the various works, exclusive of their collieries, covering an aggregate area of 55 acres, and the firm have possession of 26 acres of land adjacent for further extensions, some of which are now in progress. In the comings and goings between these two gigantic industrial hives-in the daily sending forth of machinery from them to one part of the world and another-and in the clangour, and fire, and smoke which they give forth from morn to night-the testimony of their power is never absent.
It shall be our pleasing task to trace how this greatness had its origin; how, step by step, it grew to its present proportions; whose brains and hands have promoted its success; and what the picture is that it now unfolds upon the Oldham landscape.
The founder of the firm was Mr. Henry Platt, who prior to the year 1821 was a machine maker in a humble way of business at Saddleworth. Prompted by a desire to extend his field of operations, he, in 1821, removed to Oldham, and there began to make machinery for the cotton manufacture, the first order executed by him being the construction of a carding engine for Mr. Samuel Radcliffe, the originator of the firm of Messrs. Samuel Radcliffe & Sons. While at Saddleworth Mr. Platt had concerned himself only with the making of woollen machinery, but at Oldham he found himself in the very heart of the cotton manufacture, and, with hopes equal to his ambition, he determined to make the most of the advantages of his new position. After his first cotton carding engine had been completed, he took a small workshop at Ferney Bank, where he employed five or six men, and succeeded in establishing himself so well that he found it necessary to introduce further capital into the concern, and this he did, by entering into partnership with Mr. Elijah Hibbert, a prominent engineer in the town, and the firm then took the title of Messrs. Hibbert & Platt. Success attended their conjoint enterprise, and as their operations increased they moved to larger premises, settling down, after several such removals, in the Hartford Mill, the site of the present old works, which were afterwards