What West Haddon manufactory?

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This advertisement appeared in the Northampton Mercury in 1795.

WH manufactory ad_edited-1

What on earth was harrateen? And where was the manufactory?

It’s those weavers again. There were four main types of fabric made by Northamptonshire weavers in the 18th century. And mostly they were cheap substitutes for something else. We’ve already come across tammy and its use as a substitute for dress silk. Shallons, or shalloons didn’t really pretend to be anything other than a cheap, all-purpose, lightweight twilled worsted for coat linings, working dresses etc. (There was a furlong in West Haddon called Shallons – perhaps used for tentering finished fabric as on Tenter Leys).

Harrateen and morine (or moreen) were both used in soft furnishings. The completed lengths were finished by variations in hot pressing. Harrateen was passed under a heated brass roller embossed with a pattern, which left the fabric with a sheen and a texture that might, in the right light, look like damask.

Moreen was sprinkled with water, layered with papers and pressed between two heated metal plates which was supposed to make it look a bit like silk moire. Both of these processes would have required workshops with quite heavy equipment, although the weaving could be done in an ordinary cottage living room or backyard workshop.

John Newton had several lengths of moreen in his houmoreen at Canons Ashbyse when he died. This is what it looked like.

John Walker was a draper. He lived at Crystal House where there were plenty of outbuildings round the back. Were any of them used to finish locally-made fabrics? And would such premises, in a world of the hand-made, be described as a manufactory? And were all those large first floor windows intended to show off products to visiting buyers?

It’s a theory, but John Walker died in 1787. But his widow, Rebecca, was still around in 1795…Stn Rd pc colour_edited-2

Mr Boddington’s shoe repairs

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From the Northampton Mercury, June 28th, 1784.

WHEREAS the WORK-SHOP belonging to Benjamin Collis, cordwainer, in West Haddon was broke open on the night of the 25th or early morning of the 26th June and the following articles stolen thereout, viz. one Wax skin, two black Grain ditto, one dressed Neats leather Butt, and a piece of Neats leather ditto; and three pairs of men’s shoes, two pair of them almost new, and the other pair were new soled and heeled

Whosoever will apprehend the offender or offenders so that he or they may be brought to Justice, shall, on Conviction, receive from the said Benjamin Collis a Reward of 2 Guineas.

NB On the inside of one of the Lappets was wrote Mr Boddington.

26th June 1784. Shoemaker_edited-1

Benjamin Collis was the son of Benjamin Collis sen. and his wife Prudence, nee Parnell. By 1784 he and his wife Joyce had a family of six surviving children (four more having died young.) and he was already training up young Benjamin, his 11-year old, to follow him into the shoemaking business.

In April of Enclosure year, just months before the Riot, Benjamin had sold a workshop, part of his own premises, to John Newton, the weaver. The precise location is unclear, but it seems to have been part of the ‘market infill’ triangle between High Street and Crown Lane. Might the Collis workshop have been behind the thatched cottage shown on this postcard from 1906?Cottages and Crown pre 1906_Detail_edited-2

Robert Boddington and his wife were new to the village. His occupation is yet to be discovered, but he paid tax as an owner occupier of a house somewhere in the village and served a term as Surveyor of the Highways. He sounds like a solid and upright citizen – not one to imagine, perhaps, that his shoe repair would leave a trail through history.

A village schoolmaster

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In November 1729 Henry Newton, the village schoolmaster, (uncle of John Newton who was laFenchurcg St c1750 cropter to live at Manchester House) set out on a daunting journey. He travelled up to London to renew the lease on the village school. He was 52 years old and may never have left the county before.

The Free School in West Haddon was run by a Board of Trustees, including William Watkin (the Vicar), Moses Clarke, farmer at Tudor Cottage on the Green and William Worcester. It was part of an estate in the village which consisted of a farmhouse and outbuildings, the schoolhouse, a small cottage and about 46 acres of land. Henry Garrett (whose family may have set up the school) stated on oath before a local JP that the annual rent for the land and buildings ‘do not exceed £20 and that the outgoings and deductions for the Free School etc amount to a total of £17 and that the buildings are much out of repair and that in his judgement less than £30 will not repair them.’

The trip to London was necessary because the estate belonged to the Crown. It had previously been a property donated to a London charity – the Hospital of the Savoy (now the Savoy Hotel), but had been confiscated by the King following a corruption scandal.

The negotiations did not go well and the school lease was lost. By the time the estate was surveyed in 1798 there is no mention of a schoolhouse – it had apparently been converted into two tiny one-up one-down tenements.

The entire estate was put up for sale in 1827, when the section containing the site of the old school – the plot between the Green and what is now Shepherd’s Row – was purchased by one Stephen Shepard, a wheelwright.

This section of the Crown Estate survey shows West End as the road to Coventry and Dunchurch. The building labelled 1a is the farmhouse and yard, while 1b is what used to be the Free School, fronting the Green.
This section of the Crown Estate survey shows West End as the road to Coventry and Dunchurch. The building labelled 1a is the farmhouse and yard, while 1b is what used to be the Free School, fronting the Green.

What became of schooling in West Haddon after the expiry of the lease is something of a mystery. Henry Newton lived to be 80 and may have continued teaching into old age in other premises. Two years before his death, Robert Earl was born and he was identified as a schoolmaster in 1795, but whether or not anyone else was teaching in the village between these two is currently unknown.

In 1825 Robert Earl died and John Heygate of West Haddon Grange stepped in and endowed a new village school, which was built barely a stone’s throw from the old one.

“She being his fifth wife…”

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John Newton was a small-scale textile entrepreneur. Though he was a master weaver, he was also sometimes described as a woolcomber and a yeoman. Rather than running a workshop in which weavers and combers worked for him, he put work out to village craftsmen to complete in their own homes.18th century loom warp and shed

So he didn’t need extensive premises when he bought a small building, just 4m by 6m, and yard on High St. for £10 in April 1765. Three years later he bought the cottage next door, with a bit more yard, for £18.15s [£18.75] and built an extension to make a parlour to the cottage. This, with various later additions and alterations, is now known as Manchester House. (His daughter was later to sell the house to John West (of the Crown) who, in 1828, sold it to John Townley whose name is carved above the door.)

Manchester House and Well Cottage, High St. West Haddon
Manchester House and Well Cottage, High St. West Haddon

John Newton’s family life was either very unlucky or perhaps a bit sinister.

His first wife, Alice, had died in 1748, without having any children.

In 1749 his new wife Mary died along with newly-born twins.

In 1751 he married Elianor Radburn of Watford. Seven dead babies later, she died.

His fourth wife was Alice Platt, from Stoke Albany and she died in 1764, leaving him with a 4-year-old son, George.

It was at this point that he took on the High St premises and concentrated on the business, until, in December 1773, the parish clerk (John Colledge) recorded the marriage of John Newton and Ann Cave, “she being his fifth wife”. The following month their daughter Alice was baptised. John was about 60 years old at this stage. He didn’t live to see his daughter’s first birthday.