Messrs. Lord Brothers, Cotton Spinners and Manufacturers, Machine Makers and Ironfounders.

Canal Street Works

off Halifax Road


Map Ref. SD 940241


(The above drawing kindly supplied by Alison Stansfield)


Known occupiers



Lord Bros.


Machinery & cotton on 25” OS map


Vale Upholstery Ltd.


It is now near impossible to sort out the complex of mills that developed on the once open land between the main road to Halifax, previously known as Roomfield Lane, and the canal. There were no streets, just open land, meadow and fields. The first to be built were ALBION MILL and CANAL STREET WORKS in 1839. The rest followed on over the next 30 years. One large complex of mills was a solid block, consisting of ANCHOR MILL, FEATHERS MILL, HOPE STREET MILL, CROFT MILL and STACKHILLS MILL. Somewhere in this industrial complex was Gibsons Mill.


Illustrated history


The beginnings of this important mill started modestly enough with a father and his sons working as mechanics at WATERSIDE MILL in the 1830's.The urge to have his own works gave John Lord the necessary incentive into taking a spare room with power at CLOUGH MILL, and by 1839 they had a workshop on Roomfield Lane. In 1848 they expanded from being just a machine works, commenced cotton spinning and went on to build their own works on Canal Street, Todmorden.


Edward Lord

They concentrated mainly on the manufacture of textile machinery and in the 1850' and 60's patented many outstanding inventions and improvements, mostly in the name of Edward Lord. Most of the inventions were for the opening, cleaning and blowing of machinery. There were also improvements to the drawing, spinning and doubling frames and the design of looms. Edward was the driving force of the partnership. He was a self taught man and possessed a brilliant natural talent for mechanical engineering. It was said of him that there wasn't a machine that he couldn't improve.

A passage from The History of Todmorden describes one of the specifications of a patent from 1852, which covered seven processes:

A cotton mixing machine which spread the raw cotton on a flexible feed (previously done by hand); two improvements to scutching and carding machinery, designed to leave the cotton cleaner; improved formation of laps at the end of the blowing machines, including automatic adjustments to the speed of the lap take-up roller to compensate for the increased diameter of the roller on filling; a new arrangement of rollers on the drawing-frame; improvements to the ring traveller throstle; and a better method of winding yarn onto the warp beam.

Between 1861 and 1865 twelve patents were registered to Edward Lord, some designed to deal with the problems that were created by using Indian cotton instead of the much easier American fibre.

Edward Lord is first left on back row


The foundry in 2006

In 1851 two of the Lord brothers, John and Thomas, lived in George Street and had unmarried daughters. These daughters were employed in the household as servants and didn't lead the usual life of luxury as mill owner's daughters. A possible reason for this is that as the firm was expanding, money was needed for this costly expansion and it was cheaper to use the services of a daughter than to employ outside help.

The sons also had to earn their keep by working and were not allowed to laze around the house, as privileged sons of gentlemen were sometimes prone to doing.

In 1858 Josiah Lord was the chairman of the Todmorden Joint Stock Mill Company and Edward Lord was the engineer. The company, formed in 1857, sold shares to raise capital, and built CROW CARR INGS MILL as a weaving shed for 726 looms. Not as much capital was needed for this venture as the company did not install or operate looms, but let the mill out in eleven sections, each capable of holding 66 looms. This was a venture into the co-operative business, which was coming into play at that time.

In 1861, both Edward and Josiah were given the accolade of being elected to the first Todmorden LOCAL BOARD. Josiah was noted as a gentleman of Dale Street and Edward a machinist of York Street. For many years, Josiah had the honour of being responsible for the management of the clocks at St. Mary's and the Unitarian churches.

the foundry in 2006

Lord Bros. in 1861, employed 17 men and 20 boys in the machine shop, which was housed in a separate building, covering the area from Stackhills Road to Hope Street. It can still be seen today, much as it was in its hey-day. The cotton factory found work for 33 men, 43 women, several young persons and 59 children. The photo shows Stackhills Road with the original cotton factory to the right and the foundry to the left.
The sons and grandsons of these brothers gradually took over the running of the mill, and kept it a family run business for many years. Josiah had a son Robert, who was killed in 1851. Josiah died in 1875 at his home in York Place and is buried along with his son in Christ Church. His wife, Ann, died in 1883 and is also buried in Christ Church with her husband and son.

York Place

A measure of the success of the Lord Bros. was evidenced by the fact that it was necessary to travel as far as India on business. Frank, the son of Edward of Adamroyd, went to Bombay in April 1875 on the firm's behalf. Unfortunately on the 13 July 1875, his father received a telegram, saying that Frank had died whilst at Bombay. He was 29.

Adamroyd House

Edward was to die two months later at his home at Adamroyd. He left the sum of £80,000. He had lost his wife Mary only twelve months earlier and now this blow of losing his son, must have been hard to bear and no doubt contributed in some way, to his death.

With his death, much of the driving force went from the works, although Walter carried on the tradition of improving the working of machinery. In November of 1877 a patent was sealed by him and George Jackson of Todmorden for an improvement in weaving looms.

The younger generation began to gradually come to the fore and Walter and Will Lord, sons of Edward, carried on the business of the mill after the deaths of the older generation and they became highly thought of by the townspeople.

Walter was a well-respected member of the town and took an active interest in many of the societies including the Todmorden Floral and Horticultural Society of which he was elected chairman in 1895.

Lt. Walter Lord, as he was in 1884, was commander of G Company of the 2nd. Volunteer Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers stationed at Todmorden and under his command they were awarded £5 for being the best-drilled company. By 1885 he had been made Captain.

He also enjoyed riding and saddled a mare called Victoria and the pair was well known in the show rings of the country and in 1889 she won Best Hunter mare in Show at the Islington Horse Show.

Walter's wife, Margaret died in 1898 at Adamroyd, Todmorden and Walter suffered ill health for a while and died in 1902 at his home, 131, Plymouth Grove, Manchester, aged 49. They are both buried in Christ Church in the same grave as Will and Florence, their respective brother and sister. They had a son, Edward Wilfred who was born in 1888 who followed his father into the mill and who marked his 21st. birthday by giving the workforce of the mill a day trip to Blackpool in May 1908. In July 1908 he was presented with a writing bureau and silver inkstand by the office staff and workpeople of the mill. He married Jean Lawson Russell, daughter of Dr. Lawson Russell, on 2 July 1913 at the Parish Church.


As printed in a supplement to the Todmorden Advertiser July 25th 1913

Marriage of Mr. Edward Wilfred Lord to Miss Jean Lawson Russell.

Walter and Margaret's daughter, Evina, married Capt. J. Gledhill of the 6th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers in 1910.


Will, the younger son of Edward, married Florence Sutcliffe of Greenhirst Hey, in 1887; she was also a daughter of William Sutcliffe, the owner of Harley House Mill. The workforce was treated to a trip to the Manchester Exhibition in honour of the wedding and 770 took advantage of this rare trip out.

Will and Florence had two sons, John Sutcliffe and Douglas and in 1891 they were all living at Calder House, Todmorden. He was a member of the Todmorden Gun Club and once won the President's Cup by killing 6 birds out of 7.

Will unfortunately died in 1897 aged 39 at Langfield House. It was a sudden and painful death and a sad end to his life. He was the junior member of the firm and was known as Mr. Will by most people. Langfield House is shown right. Will is remembered by a plaque in Christ Church.

Langfield House


photo by very kind permission of Richard Jeffery August 2001

To the glory of God and to the beloved memory of Will Lord of Langfield House and the firm of Lord Bros. Todmorden. Born March 26th 1857. Died February 16th 1897.

This tablet is erected by the employees of the firm.

Lord all pitying Jesu blest

Grant him Thine eternal rest


Will's wife, Florence Edith, lived on to be 70 and died in 1926 at her home, Adamroyd. They are both buried in Christ Church in the same grave as their respective brother and sister. Also in the grave are the two sons of Will and Florence, John Sutcliffe Lord and Douglas. John died at 26, Riversleigh Ave., Lytham aged 48 in 1937 and Douglas died in 1939 aged 48.

John Sutcliffe Lord was married in 1918 and such was his prominence in society that it was reported in the Yorkshire Weekly Post:

Yorkshire Weekly Post

6th April 1918 p.16   

Todmorden Officer's Marriage.

Great interest was shown in the marriage at Todmorden parish church on Wednesday of Capt. John Sutcliffe Lord, Lancashire Fusiliers, and Miss Mary Barker, 3rd daughter of Mr. & Mrs. John Barker of Thorn Hill, Todmorden.

Capt. Lord is a member of the firm of Lord Bros. Textile machine makers and cotton mfrs of Canal Street Works, Todmorden. He was in the local Territorials before the war, and was mobilised with them on 4th August 1914, and was one of the first volunteers for service overseas.

He served in Egypt, in Gallipoli (where he was wounded), in the Sinai Peninsula, and in France. In May 1917 he returned to England, and after serving at Scarborough, was placed on the Territorial Officer's Reserve, being unfit for active service.

The bride has also done a considerable amount of war work, having assisted at Centre Vale Military Hospital from the beginning, and her father has also taken a leading part locally in all movements connected with the war, besides acting as chairman of the local Advisory Committee.


(information supplied by John Alan Longbottom)

Another member of the family business was John, born in 1830, and in 1881 is listed in the census as being a machinist, cotton manufacturer. His wife Priscilla and 3 children are at home, all unmarried. Herbert is 23 and works as an overlooker in the family mill, Emily is 18 and Annie, 16, is recorded as being an imbecile. They are all living at Cliff Villas, Langfield.

Cliff Villas


John died in 1884 at Cliff Villas and his wife and daughter Annie went to live at Southport. Their daughter Emily also went with her mother and sister to Southport where she met and married a local man, Mr. Harry Calvert at Holy Trinity Church, Southport in 1894. Annie died in1893 and Priscilla in 1899, both at Southport. They are buried in Christ Church with John. Herbert carried on in the family firm and as a machine maker. He continued to live at Cliff Villas, with his wife Sarah. He was also to die young, like many of the Lord family before him. He died at the early age of 42 in 1899 and his wife Sarah died five years later in 1904 aged 43 in the Nurses' Home, Halifax. Both are buried together in Christ Church.

There are other members of the Lord family buried in Christ Church and they are listed underneath with the burial dates:



Grave 1

Martha Lord of York St. 6/1/1862 aged 21

Hannah Law of Adamroyd 30/1/1869 aged 35

Mary Lord of Adamroyd 19/10/1874 aged 58

Edward Lord of Adamroyd 14/9/1875 aged 63

Frank Lord 1875 aged 29

Fred Lord of Adamroyd 6/12/1876 aged 22


Grave 2

Ann Lord infant 1854

Charles Lord of Dale St. 17/5/1862 aged 11months

Ann Lord of Dale St. 7/12/1870 aged 37

Frank Lord of Dale St. 12/10/1871 aged 10 month

Martha Lord of Dale St. 22/1/1874 aged 7

Edward Lord of York Place 29/9/1885 aged 53

Sarah Ann Lord 1899 aged 69

Robert Lord of 3, Vernon St. 29/4/1909 aged 50.


In the early 1900's, most of the machinery produced by the firm was exported, and in a way contributed to the decline of the cotton industry in England. Production increased during the First World War when ammunition was needed in great quantity. The workforce was mainly female as most able-bodied men were fighting at the front.

In 1920 the Manchester firm of Brooks & Doxey bought this leading textile and machine makers, and in 1929 the Canal Street works was shut, putting the workforce of 250 on the dole. The business was transferred to Manchester as it was easier to access transport routes from Manchester than from Todmorden and it was the end of an era for the town. It was also the end of the dream of one man and his sons all those years ago.

The mill itself had its fair share of ups and downs like most mills of the time. By far the worst was the fatal BOILER EXPLOSION in 1875. The full story can be seen from the link.

In 1884 a fire broke out and again in 1886. This latter one caused a lot of damage and the cost ran into several thousands of pounds. It was discovered about 2-45pm and it destroyed the pattern room and a quantity of patterns belonging to the firm, from which their celebrated cotton spinning machinery is made.

In 1894 the moulders ceased work for refusing to do piecework at the price stated. The moulders went on strike again in 1896, again over the issue of piecework. They had been granted 2s per hour increase in pay, but the firm wanted to have the hands put on piecework, and they wouldn't agree to this, hence the strike.

In May 1906 the mechanics, fitters and turners came out on strike on account of an advance of wages being refused. By June, they got 1s. per week advanced and a promise of a further 1s in 3 months time. They returned to work.

On the 19th May 1913, 100 labourers went on strike but the mayor intervened and a settlement was reached on May 30th.


Employees of Lord Brothers' Canal Street Works are pictured at the entrance to their

Lower George Street workshop, 1905-10. The apprentices are seated at the front.

Photo by very kind permission of Roger Birch.


The site once occupied by Lord Brothers is now the home of Poly Hi Solidur, which is a subsidiary of the Menasha Corporation of Wisconsin, USA manufacturers of chemical and corrosion resistant polymers.


Additional information

researched, recorded and referenced by Mrs Sheila Wade

Hebden Bridge WEA Local History Group


Notes from John Travis, contemporary historian:

John Lord and some of his sons, who had been mechanics in Fielden’s mill at Waterside, took a spare room at Clough Mill as a workshop with power and began a machine making business. After 2 or 3 years they built Canal Street Works on part of Old Shop Meadow. At first it was an unpretentious building of 2 storeys and attic, engine, boiler house and chimney. Before the cotton famine, Lord Bros of Todmorden brought out improved blowing and scotching machines for cleaning shorter staple cotton, which helped when cotton came from India due to cotton famine.

Lord Bros intended building an iron foundry on the canal side at Stackhills Bottom, but the ground was unsafe, so about 1861 they purchased Knowles & Sutcliffe’s mill, plant and spare land. (Stackhills Mill). They built the foundry near their mechanics shop. Stackhills Road and Baltimore Road separated the two. The spinning mill and weaving shed was also worked by the firm.


Todmorden and Hebden Bridge Almanac 6th January 1839

Hurricane blew down Firth & Howarth’s Roomfield Lane mill chimney onto Lord Bros. workshop.

White 1842-43

John Lord & Sons, machine makers

White 1847

Lord Bros. Canal Street, machine makers.

Langfield Highway Rates November 1849

Owners and occupiers Lord Bros; Roomfield Lane; machine shop; rateable value £31.0s.6d; mill rateable value £39.10s.0; steam power £4.17s.6d; workshop £62.7s.7d.

Todmorden and Hebden Bridge Almanac 4th September 1850

Lord Bros. commenced spinning.

1851 census

Josiah Lord, Dale Street, aged 43, partner of 5, machine makers employing 62 mechanics, and cotton spinners employing 56 people.

John Lord, George Street, aged 60, partner of 5, machine makers employing 59 men, 2 boys, 3 mechanics and cotton spinners employing 5 men, 7 boys and 24 females.

Thomas Lord, George Street, aged 47, partner of 5, machine makers employing 59 men, 2 boys, 3 mechanics and cotton spinners employing 5 men, 7 boys and 24 females.

Edward Lord, York Street, aged 39, partner of 5, machine makers employing 59 men, 2 boys, 3 mechanics and cotton spinners employing 5 men, 7 boys and 24 females.

Abraham Lord, Hanging Ditch, aged 40, partner of 5, machine makers employing 59 males and 37 boys, and cotton spinners employing 5 men, 7 boys and 24 females.


White 1853

Lord Bros. Canal Street, machine makers and cotton spinners & manufacturers.

Halifax Guardian 28th July 1855

Partnership dissolved between Thomas Lord, Josiah Lord, Abraham Lord and Edward Lord, Todmorden, machine makers and cotton spinners & manufacturers under the firm of Lord Bros. Josiah Lord retiring from the partnership. Remainder to carry on.

Langfield Rates Book 1856-1893

Owned and occupied by Lord Bros; Roomfield Lane; machine shop, mill etc. 12hp steam; rateable value £297.10s.6d.

1859 – new machine shop at 39.5hp £95.0s.8d.

1861 – new work shop £201.1s.5d.

1862 – additions £97.3s.5d.

1865 – re-valued £681.13s.0d.

1867 – new foundry £116.6s.3d.

1870 – new dye house £15.15s.0d.

1878 – new saw mills £32.18s.6d.

1880 – re-valued and includes Stackhills £1114.

Continual appeals against amount of rateable value

1893 - £798.5s.0d.

Langfield Rates Book 1856

Owner Abraham Lord; occupiers Lord Bros; Stackhills; saw house and yard; rateable value £10.4s.8d.

1878 – new saw mills; Stackhills; £32.18s.6d.

Langfield Rates Book 1860-64 (refers to Gibson Mill)

Owned and occupied by Lord Bros; Roomfield Lane; loom shed etc; rateable value £73.2s.7d. (Late James Gibson)

1861-62 – part occupied by James Dawson

1863-64 – part occupied by Sutcliffe Halstead

1865 – township re-valued and Gibson Mill seems to be included in Lord Bros. Stackhills property.

Kelly 1861

Lord Bros. Canal Street, machine makers and cotton spinners & manufacturers.

Langfield Rates Book 1864 (refers to Stackhills Mill)

Owners Lord Bros; Hope Street; mill, shed, 22hp etc; rateable value £151.18s.5d. (Late Knowles and Sutcliffe, part occupied by Sutcliffe Brothers.)

Langfield Rates Book 1865-1879 (refers to Stackhills Mill)

Owners Lord Bros; Hope Street; mill, shed, power; rateable value £210.5s.0d.

1880 and onwards Lord Bros. only pay rates for Canal Street, which must have been merged with Stackhills Mill for rateable purposes.

White 1866

Lord Bros. Canal Street, machine makers and cotton spinners & manufacturers. Edward Lord house 33 York Street; Thomas Lord house Cross Street; William Lord house Omega Street.

Rivers Pollution Commission Report (undated but possibly 1867)

Mr. Josiah Lord – retired machine maker:

Works commenced up in Walsden, now in Canal Street but I formerly worked for Messrs. Fielden Bros. I went to Messrs. Fielden in 1822. When I was at the firm it had 2 boilers, but in last 2 or 3 months have applied “Juke’s Furnace” and now you will see no smoke come up at all. Most chimneys in the valley smoke. “It is so thick you could cut it with a knife”.

Mr. Edward Lord, brother of above:

We consume 1500 to 1800 tons of coal a year.

Todmorden and Hebden Bridge Almanac 18th January 1870

Fire at Canal Street Works (Lord Bros) £200 damage.

Kelly 1871-1908

Lord Bros. Canal Street, machine makers and cotton spinners & manufacturers.

Lord Bros. Ltd. in 1908. .

Halifax Courier 30th January 1875

BOILER EXPLOSION  at Lord Bros. 7 killed and 40 or 50 injured. Three boilers placed in Canal Street Works new in 1866. Whole of boiler house, beaming room and small engine room adjoining all reduced to ruins. Damage estimated between £8000 and £10000. (Full story from link).

Halifax Guardian 9th March 1878

No town fire brigade at Todmorden, but company’s brigades at Fielden Bros. of Waterside, Lord Bros. at Canal Street, and Fielden’s at Robinwood. They meet monthly for practice.

Fielden papers 1878

Lord Bros. scale of charges for fire engine. Engine £5 irrespective of time; superintendent 5 shillings for 2 hours, 2/6d an hour thereafter; firemen 2/6d for 2 hours, and 1/6d after; pumpers etc 1 shilling an hour.

Todmorden and Hebden Bridge Advertiser 1st August 1879

Canal Street; 7012 spindles, 374 looms, working 4 days a week.

Stackhills Mill; 11050 spindles, 300 looms, working 4 days a week.

Halifax Courier 22nd November 1879

Lord Bros. Stackhills and Canal Street (674 looms and 18062 spindles) have been running 4 days. Cut in wages 3% and running full time.

Todmorden and Hebden Bridge Advertiser 16th April 1880

Lord Bros. Canal Street and Stackhills Sheds. Weavers ceased work 3 weeks ago because masters refused advance in wages of 10%.

Todmorden and Hebden Bridge Advertiser 30th April 1880

Lord Bros machine makers, partnership dissolved as regards Samuel Lord.

Todmorden and Hebden Bridge Advertiser 14th May 1880

Strike still on at Lord Bros.

Todmorden and Hebden Bridge Advertiser 26th November 1880

Lord Bros weavers commenced work 4 days a week.

Halifax Courier 5th March 1881

Social for 100 weavers of Lord Bros Canal Street.

Factory Act Prosecutions

11th January 1883

Messrs Lord Bros. Canal Mills – Todmorden

Case heard before Abraham Ormerod, G. Riley and J. Ingham Esqrs at Todmorden

Employing a child on consecutive Saturdays.

Penalty of £1 and Costs of 14s-6d

Halifax Courier 26th January 1884

Factory inspector summonsed Lord Bros. cotton manufacturers, for allowing females to be employed in their mill during their dinner hour.

Halifax Courier 21st June 1884

Fire at Lord Bros. Canal Street Works. Damage slight.

Halifax Courier 13th September 1884

Lord Bros. Canal Street and Stackhills Mills, decided to close their spinning works.

Halifax Courier 21st November 1885

Lord Bros. Canal Street; economiser of boiler burst, damage £1000 to £1500.

Fielden papers 27th February 1886

Fire at Lord Bros Canal Street Works, Fielden’s fire engine attended.

Halifax Courier 6th March 1886

Fire at Lord Bros. machinists, Canal Street. Two storey building gutted, store room for patterns, damage £3000, insured.

Manchester Examiner 22nd July 1887

Lord Bros. Canal Street Works, 440 looms working full time.

Todmorden and Hebden Bridge Advertiser 22nd January 1892

Lord Bros breakdown. Couple of teeth out of bevel wheel belonging to upright driving shaft. Turners and fitters laid off.

James Durran’s ledger 1908 – 1911

Lord Bros. Canal Street Works, Todmorden, buying plumbago and compo from James Durran’s, Thurlstone, blacking manufacturer.