LUKE BARKER (1843-1896)

of Stansfield Hall, Todmorden

Cotton Manufacturer


An extract from the Todmorden & Hebden Bridge Historical Almanac 1898


That he was a true man is known to us all, and a friend of the human sort; not lifted up high in his own conceit, but high in the estimation of everyone with whom he came in contact; a man whose life is a perfect lesson we should do well to learn by heart, and adapt to our own needs, and for our own guidance.












Mr. Barker did not seek important public work, but was content to “do good by stealth, and blushed to find it fame”; thus his respected position, for many years continued, as sidesman at the Parish Church, and a manager of the day schools, and which he still held at the time of his death, was about the highest pinnacle he ever essayed to soar to. He had the bump of minding his own business fully developed, and Cotton Manufacturing being his business he devoted himself to it with all the strength of a well-balanced mind, and with all the skill of which he was so thoroughly the master. Mr. Luke Barker was a striking example of success in business, and was often cited as a remarkable instance of what one man can accomplish while others barely hold their own. Nor was it from any harsh pressure that he attained success, for no one in the district was held in higher favour as an employer. In society he was genial and generous, and was always ready to promote what was kindly, and for the benefit and pleasure of others.


The subject of our brief sketch was born at Oldroyd, Langfield, on September 26th. 1843, and all in good time went to Mr. William Baye's school at Lumbutts, and afterwards attended evening classes at Vale Academy, under the late Mr. William Dewhirst. He was twice married. His first wife was Rachel, eldest daughter of the late Mr. John Barnes, formerly manager for Messrs. Abm. Ormerod Bros., Walsden, by whom he had 7 children, of whom 4 survive him. The second lady whom he married was Sarah Ann, eldest daughter of the late Mr. Jonathan Barker, iron founder of Millwood. No issue.


Mr. Luke began business as a boy in the shop of his uncle, Mr. James Barker, grocer of Gandy Bridge Todmorden. Before he was 20 years of age, so patiently had he studied in his classes, he was an excellent machine draughtsman, as many samples of his work still in existence at Stansfield Hall bear testimony.

Stansfield Hall in 1898


The subject of our notice commenced cotton manufacturing early in the year 1867 in partnership with his brother William and the late Messrs. Richard Crabtree and Thomas Cockroft. Mr. Cockroft withdrew in a very short time and the business was continued until June 1890 under the name of “Barkers and Crabtree”. In 1869 Wadsworth Mill was taken over by the firm, and in 1873 the top end of Joint Stock Shed. In 1878 they purchased Friths Mill and built a loom shed in connection with it. Some time after, Dancroft Mill and the remaining portion of Joint Stock Shed were added.


In June 1890, after a dissolution of partnership, Mr. Luke Barker, with his sons John and Robert, under the name of “Luke Barker & Sons” carried on the 3 places: Friths, Dancroft and Joint Stock Mills, all of which are now under the able management of his 2 sons, and finding employment for upwards of 600 work people. One special reason Mr. Barker had for being prosperous (and he was not a cruel taskmaster) was that he knew to be a nicety the amount of work an individual could perform in a given time.


A good memory, coupled with a huge store of anecdotes, made Mr. Barker a capital conversationalist, his recollections of America, where he made an observant visit, and his trip along the Mediterranean, were full of entertainment, and his manner of telling his experiences was charming, but the end had to come, as it must to all of us, and Mr. Luke Barker's genial face vanished.


Mr. Luke Barker was the 4th . Son of Mr. John Barker of Clough, Walsden, and died on 15th. July 1896 at the age of 53 years.


The funeral was most impressive, the cortege leaving the house in the following order:

Carriage containing the Rev. E. J. Russell, Dr. Russell and Mr. J. E. Craven; an open car bearing the body drawn by 4 horses; carriages containing Mrs. Barker and the Misses Barker; Mr. and Mrs. John Barker, and Mr. And Mrs. Robert Barker; Mr. William Barker (Rose Bank), Miss Barker (Walsden), Mrs. H. Ashworth (Gauxholme), Miss Mary Barker (Mona Terrace); Mr. Alfred Barnes and Miss Jane Barnes (Friths House); the Rev. A. S. Roberts, Mr. J. Wilkinson (Manchester), Mr. S. Veevers (Liverpool). The carriage of Mr. W. Lord of Adamroyd followed. Nearly 200 male employees took their places inside the church before the arrival of the funeral party. There were also present Mr. S. Fielden J.P. of Waterside House; Mr. Aitken, manager of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank and Mr. W. A. Sutcliffe of Harley House.


The opening part of the service was read by the Rev. E. J. Russell, and the Rev. T. G. Cliffe (curate of Cross Stone where the internment took place), read the portion of scripture. The coffin, covered by a purple and gold pall, was borne shoulder high from the church to the cemetery. At the graveside the service was taken by the Vicar of Todmorden. The body was enclosed in a shell, and afterwards in a polished oak coffin. On the plate was the following inscription:



Born September 26th 1843

Died July 15th 1896


The floral tributes were exceedingly rich, having been contributed by the work people and many friends in Todmorden and the surrounding district. The Todmorden Carriage Company's carriages were used, and Mr. Fairbourn, Strand, Todmorden, had charge of the whole arrangements.


Signs of mourning were abundantly manifest in the Parish Church on the Sunday evening, where, to a large congregation, the funeral sermon was preached by the vicar, who made impressive and frequent references to the merits of the deceased gentleman, and commended him as an example, showing what industry may do pursued in the pathway of honour and uprightness. He commended to all that faith in the compassion of God which was his comfort, and which was the consolation of his bereaved family, and which would be their comfort when they were compelled to pass through the valley of the shadow of death to the presence of the Eternal God.