AN exhibition devoted to Longridge’s mill heritage opens soon. Local historian and heritage centre official EMMA HEWITT, who has been researching the topic, sets the scene for the historical display
While preparing the new exhibition at the Old Station Heritage Centre about the Longridge mills, I have been learning about George Whittle and the impact he had on the history of Longridge.
George is one of the most important characters in Longridge’s past. He was known as the “Maker of Longridge”. He realised, before anybody else, the potential of steam powered mills in Longridge.
He came to Longridge in 1838 where he worked as a “putter outer” , in which he “put out” work to handloom weavers.
He was a man who was noted for his natural ability as well as his hard work.
He became a workshop master, running workhouses in Longridge, Hurst Green, Ribchester and Copster Green.
He used to walk to each of these workhouses and do a full day’s work and then walk back to Longridge at the end of the day.
In 1850, George Whittle began to build Longridge’s first steam powered weaving shed at Stone Bridge Mill.
He was well respected and liked by local people because he employed local handloom weavers who were struggling to find work.
He was also highly praised for never having a shortage of work at the mill.
Work even continued throughout the cotton famine in 1860-61. In fact, nowhere else in Lancashire had such a good record of steady work.
The hard work of George Whittle’s early years in the cotton industry led to him living a prosperous life.
On July 28, 1865, at the age of 51 he passed away.
About 400 people attended his funeral, which shows what an important and well liked character he was in Longridge.
l The Longridge Mills exhibition opens at the Old Station Heritage Centre, Berry Lane, Longridge, on Wednesday April 4, with a talk at 2pm from Colin Dickinson about the Lancashire cotton industry.
Tickets cost £1 and are available in advance from the heritage centre. The exhibition will remain on display until September.