Abraham Robertshaw & Knowlwood Bottom Mill

Linda Briggs has kindly sent these notes about Abraham Robertshaw and Knowlwood Bottom Mill

---------------------------------------------------------------------- In 1840, William Crossley went bankrupt, and Knowlwood Bottom Mill mill, machinery and contents were put up for auction, including the waterwheels, and steam engines. Abraham Robertshaw bought the plant, engines and other fixtures from the assignees.

Abraham had started out as a poor man, but by stealth and bending several rules, he rose to prosperity to become a successful home manufacturer under the old cottage industry system.

Ten years, later Abraham was still the man in charge at the mill.

On 19th August 1852, Abraham married Jane Midgley, and he treated his workers to a dinner to celebrate the event.

The Halifax Guardian [28th August 1852] reported

In consequence of Mr Abraham Robertshaw, manufacturer, Gauxholme, who is upwards of 70 years of age, having the good fortune last week to be joined in the holy bands of matrimony to widow Jane Midgley, landlady of the Sportsmans Inn, Kebcote, he gave orders before setting off to enjoy the honeymoon that a dinner should be provided at the Black Bull Inn, Gauxholme, for all his adult labourers. On Saturday last, about 140 sat down to an excellent dinner at that house

and the Manchester Times [28 August 1852] reported

Treat to Work People

The work people of Abraham Robertshaw esq. of Knowlwood, Todmorden, cotton spinner and manufacturer, near 200 in number, were treated by him to a repast in the true old English style, of good roast beef and plum pudding, on Saturday last, on the occasion of the second marriage of their employer (who is upwards of 70 years of age) on Thursday last. The dinner, which was provided by Mrs Crossley of the Black Bull Inn, Gauxholme, was prepared in a manner that did great credit to the hostess and which gave great satisfaction to her guests, who with cheerful faces and sharpened appetites, had assembled to partake of the good cheer provided.

Each person was allowed a shilling's worth of liquor, in which to drink long life, health and much happiness to their employer and his new bride, which was done with great cordiality. The company separated at an early hour in the evening, all being well pleased with their treat


Abraham flourished for many years at Knowlwood Bottom, but not without falling foul of his workforce on more than one occasion, none more so than towards the end of 1851.

The Halifax Guardian [1st November 1851] reported:

On Wednesday last, the powerloom weavers in the employ of Mr A. Robertshaw of Gauxholme turned out, and walked in procession to several places in this neighbourhood. The cause of a turnout is a reduction of ½d per pound weight. The strike is likely to continue as the weavers have been promised support

The newspapers recorded major events of the strike:

8th November 1851
The weavers of Mr Robertshaw are still out and their looms are likely to stand for some time as Mr Robertshaw has begun to sell his wefts and warps.

22nd November 1851
The weavers recently in the employ of Mr Robertshaw of Gauxholme are still on the turn out, and it appears from their last report that there is no sign of reconciliation as they have not received any reply to their request. It appears also that the weavers are liberally supported, having received 6/- each for the week.

6th December 1851
Mr A. Robertshaw's weavers are still out; but it seems there is some appearance of an adjustment as Mr Robertshaw has placarded the town stating that he will give the old price for 36" and 48" weft, and an advance of 1.5d per pound weight on 24" weft. The weavers have some other grievances they wish to have redressed before they resume work, such as paying for broken machinery, and being subject to unknown abatements. The turn outs are liberally supported, having received 7/- per week each, a large sum remains in the treasurer's hands.

20th December 1851
Mr A. Robertshaw's weavers are still walking the roads and singing hymns. They have posted a bill in answer to the one which appeared from Mr Robertshaw, and in which they accuse their late employer with some of the most tyrannical acts ever practised, and challenge him to appear at a public meeting where they will provide their statements. The turn outs are still liberally supported by a sympathising public.

17th Jan 1852
The weavers of A. Robertshaw of Gauxholme resumed their work as was agreed on the first Monday in the New Year, but on going to their looms they discovered the hard brushes had been removed, and on making inquiry respecting them they were informed that, as they had stated in their hand bills when out, how little the brushes cost, they must purchase the brushes themselves. This was in reverse of their agreement, but they worked on until Thursday night without brushes.

On Friday morning they did not appear at their work. During the day, Mr Robertshaw sent for them several times, and again promised to supply them with brushes, which was done on resuming their work on Saturday morning. They remained at their work from Saturday morning until last Monday night, but on Tuesday morning last they again turned out, no-one being left at the place but the overseer and two of his children. Mr Robertshaw again sent for his weavers and promised to "clip the wings" of his overseer if they would return to their work. On these conditions they resumed their work on Thursday morning.

Abraham died in 1854 and the mill and property were later put up for sale

This & associated entries use material contributed by John Crossley

© Malcolm Bull 2024
Revised 16:28 / 8th April 2024 / 8396

Page Ref: X356

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