Snuff, Spinning and Spiritual Houses

“..And they were off to a good start”….   It was a real pleasure to see people turn out for our first talk of the year and to welcome Harold Hoggarth back again to the Friends – and with such tales to tell too.

The catalyst for this talk was the information Harold discovered whilst researching his family history, he came across pleasant surprises and found he was related to an industrious and well known pioneer of the industrial revolution named Samuel Crompton who was his four times great grandfather on his mothers side of the family.

Portrait of Samuel Crompton. PDomain

You may know that Samuel invented the Spinning Mule but what you may not know is that he and his machinery were spied on by Sir Richard Arkwright another famous inventor who was said to be trying to steal his ideas and patent them, even going so far as to drill a hole in the ceiling to spy on folk. Sir Robert Peel advised Samuel to set up a public subsidy he received only £60.  Peel then arranged a meeting between him and the Prime Minister who agreed to Sam receiving £20,000 unfortunately as the prime minister was going to Parliament to get the vote for this payment he was shot and poor Sam received nothing.  He eventually set up a dyeing works and there was a subscription collected for him from the public.

Sam’s family originally lived in Fir Wood Fold in a thatched cottage for 300 years, since restored and now looking rather splendid –  and then moved up to an Elizabethan house Hall’i’the Wood.

Hall i’the Wood. Home of Samuel Crompton. Attribution: Rept0n1x


Also part of Harold’s story is a Mayor of Nelson,   a snuff factory in Kendal and an involvement with the rebuilding of the staircase at the Abbots lodging at Whalley Abbey which was bought by the Assheton family.  Harold’s last slide was quite poignant, a painting by his wife of a grove of white birches that depicted a couple in the distance.. their children. Their family tree as it were.

Well, how satisfying that must be to know that several branches of your family were connected to the work and industry of the north west and indeed the world.  And that the fruits of their labour can still be seen today.

Did you know that:

1lb weight of cotton could be spun into 167 miles of thread or 332 miles which apparently wasn’t very practical.

That a member of the Gawiths Snuff factory in Kendal bought 50 tons of snuff making machinery some of which is still in use today and is around 310 years old.    They made them well in those days.

Banner Image: 10 Fir Fold, Samuel Cromptons childhood home.  Originally a thatched cottage. Attribution: Margaret Clough