In the early part of the 19th Century, Mr. Hartley Merrall
was engaged in the business of manufacturer of 'stuff
pieces'. That is to say, He bought yarn and gave out work
to hand loom weavers in the areas of Haworth, Cross Roads
and Keighley. The class of good consisted mainly of 5/8
and ¾ plainbacks and wildbores. In 1816 he moved
into the spinning trade by way of commissions he obtained
from Acres Mill in Keighley and it is understood that,
at this time, he stopped piece making. In 1822, though
still engaged in commission spinning, he moved his enterprise
to Low Bridge Mill and in 1829, he moved his business
to Haworth and set up a business at Spring Head Mill.
This site was previously owned by Mr. Joseph Greenwood
and Mr. Merrall purchased the mill when Mr. Greenwood
Soon after his arrival at Spring Head, Mr. Merrall began
manufacturing stuff pieces in his own right and the commission
work became less and less. He consequently employed a
considerable number of Combers and Weavers to undertake
the large amount of work he had taken on and it was only
about 4 years later that he took on his four sons, Edwin,
Michael, Stephen and Hartley into partnership. Initially,
the class of goods manufactured by the Partnership consisted
largely of plainbacks and wildbores but, by the time the
partnership was underway, they had moved into the 6qr
merino class of trade. In his wisdom, Mr. Hartley Merrall
allowed his sons to run the manufacturing side of the
business, the business becoming known as Merrall Brothers.
Through constant hard-working and painstaking industry,
the brothers turned what was a small family business into
a thriving prosperous firm. Whilst is appears that they
never moved into the luster trade or ventured into Orleans
cloth, they did, however, begin to use cotton warps around
1840. The class of goods they were now manufacturing was
wefted with, what was known as, 'the soft yarns'. These
were, in fact, yarns spun from fine wools.
It was in 1844 that they built the new mill and warehouse
on Lees Lane and, shortly after, both Michael and Stephen
each build dwelling houses at Lees, within easy walking
distance of the new mill.
Shortly after, around 1851, Ebor Mill and Ebor House
both came on the market. The house was believed to have
been built in 1829, though other sources suggest that
the House was built in the 18th century and was re-fronted
in 1819. It could also be possible for the original property
to have been demolished and completely rebuilt by Hiram
Craven Jr, who occupied the property from 1829. When Hiram
Craven and his two sons, Thomas and Hiram Jr, built Ebor
Mill in 1819, it is entirely possible that they built
the mill on the site of an earlier mill. The Cravens,
previously of Dockroyd at Oakworth were reputable building
contractors, having built bridges, roads and railways.
They then turned their attention to the textile industry
during the early part of the nineteenth century. They
had purchased Higher Providence Mill at Oakworth, which
they completely rebuilt. They then bought Mytholmes mill,
which they enlarged and expanded. Their next undertaking
was Ebor mill. They first built the dam to enable a waterwheel
to be built, a waterwheel large enough to drive a worsted-spinning
When the mill was completed it was leased to Townsend
and Company, Worsted Spinners and Manufacturers. And in
1834 Townsend and Co were taken over by the newly formed
partnership of Craven and Sugden who, not only 'put out'
work to hand combers and hand weavers, they also employed
a number of hand combers and wool sorters at the mill
but their main concern was spinning. They also installed
a number of power looms for weaving coburgs, orleans,
merinos and double twills. Hiram Craven Junior was named
as Senior Mill Manager and moved into Ebor House.
During the 1840s Craven and Sugden suffered severe financial
losses which resulted in them ceasing to business at Ebor
Mill and in 1851 The Mill and the House were purchased
by The Merrall Family.
The property included Ebor Farm and Ebor House, which
was built of local stone. At the corner of the garden
wall is a stone plaque declaring Ebor Lane to be a private
road until the Tollhouse was reached at the other end
of Ebor Lane, where it adjoins Mytholmes Lane. The plaque
also names the remaining roads that remain(ed) private.
about Ebor toll more...
Merrall bought both Ebor Mill and Ebor House from the
representatives of Mr. Hiram Craven. Edwin made his home
at the Ebor House. The Youngest brother, Hartley, remained
at Spring Head Mill taking sole ownership of the Mill
and properties and running the business with the help
of his sons. Hartley was a very industrious man and the
business at Spring Head continued to flourish, though
nowhere near as successfully as Lees and Ebor Mills under
the auspice of his older brothers.
Due to their success and industry, the brothers built
large weaving sheds and extended the spinning mill and
warehouse facilities all fitted with the most modern machinery
and appliances. They also greatly enlarged Ebor Mill by
erecting new weaving sheds as well as building a gasworks
to supply both mills. By this time, they were supplying
the highest class of goods. Yarns of the highest quality
and most beautiful texture, wefted with soft yarns, spun
from the finest English, Botany and Australian wools.
There was a great demand for their product and their employees
were earning good wages as a consequence of their enterprise.
It was said that their work-force formed one of the most
prosperous communities in the whole of Yorkshire.
In 1860, both Edwin and Stephen retired from business
and a dissolution of the partnership took place, leaving
Mr. Michael Merrall to carry on the business with his
son George under the name of Michael Merrall and Son and
in 1881, Merrall and Son Limited Michael's other son Edwin
forming his own company, Edwin R. Merrall on the Lees
Site and, around this time Ebor Mills came under the ownership
of The Merrall Spinning Co Ltd. Take
a 360 degree view of Ebor mill here...
In 1885, Lees Mill suffered a terrible fire which resulted
in around £30,000 of damage and the original mill
being gutted but worst of all, around 400 people were
thrown out of work. The cause of the fire was given as
'gas jet in contact with warp'.
show that the mill was rebuilt by 1892. Not only had they
rebuilt bigger and better than before, they had expanded
Lees Mill to the other side of the road and had also extended
Ebor Mills. They had also bought Lowertown Shed, also
known as Lower Holme Mill, at Oxenhope, to which they
expanded the weaving shed and added a spinning mill during
the 1890s. In 1906 they added a further building to the
west of Lees Mill.
In 1910 the company was listed as having 15,000 spindles,
1,400 Looms specializing in worsted coatings and linings
and undertaking their own combing, making them one of
Yorkshire's largest worsted spinning concerns.
Parish Councillor for Cross Roads