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Dyeing For A Living
Richard Smith

1st Nov 2012

A wonderful colourful talk was given to us when Richard Smith told us about his life after the age of seventeen spent in the textile dyeing industry. We heard about his experiences working for various companies such as Bulmer & Lumb, British Furtex and Black Dyke Mills.

He also worked for John Brook and Sons at Armitage Mills in Huddersfield where he met Roy Castle’s uncle Hubert. After this he worked for Joseph Dawson’s in Bradford, renowned for their cashmere, before he moved to South Africa .

 He was not suited to South Africa and returned home to join Century Dye Works where he eventually rose to become General Manager and eventually MD. Although his work was highly profitable he was not well compensated for his endeavours and was enticed to join 

 W L Pawson inWashington. Here he worked as General Manager in a factory where 330 female workers produced 6000 dresses per week. For economical reasons the factory was closed and Richard was out of work for 5 months. Eventually he got a job with Courtaulds and worked for them in Scotland , Northern Ireland and Chorley before starting on what was to become a successful adventure.

 When the opportunity arose to purchase Hebden Dyeing Company he decided to try raise the money and to start being self employed. Barclays Bank were extremely helpful to him. They loaned him £50,000 and backed him after a first year loss of £25,000. He proved them right by successfully managing the company to regular profit. He invested in modern equipment and expanded the company which eventually became Hebden Dyeing and Finishing Company. But the general demise of the textile industry in Britain reduced the work available and he closed his company down before the lack of work negated its profitability.

In June 2009 the business was closed and some of the equipment sold to Century Dye Works

where he became a part time consultant.  

Our next meeting is on Thursday 15th November at Otley Methodist Church at 10-00am when Dougie Hill will tell us about “The Battle of the Somme ”.   


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