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Home » Guiseley » Businesses Guiseley » Cotopa Mills

Cotopa Mills

Cotopa Mills 1937

Title Cotopa Mills
Date 1937
Location Guiseley
Photo ID X150
Comment Here we see three employees at the mill, the girl in the middle has her arm in a sling, the mill building is in the background.

A brief history – The mill was originally called Park Road Mill until in 1906 when a Mr Robert (Bob) Gill was manufacturing leather goods there and it became known as Back Lane Tannnery. The Mills was subsequently purchased and owned by Claughton’s Boot Factory until their empire collapsed and it was sold to Cotopa which belonged to a firm at Canal Road, Bradford.

In the 1930s, Cotopa Mills, part of the Cotopa works was involved in manufacturing chemicals, including potassium chloride and other chemicals used to make matches.

Editor’s note: On searching the internet I found the following information regarding Cotopa Mills which tends to suggest perhaps some government interest on grounds of Health & Safety. JB. 07 October 2023.

HC Deb 09 March 1936 vol 309 cc1801-21801

    asked the Home Secretary whether his attention 1802 has been drawn to the conditions of work at the Cotopa Mills, Guiseley; whether he is aware of the bad physical effects of such employment; whether he will ask the inspector of factories to give special attention to the processes carried on in this mill and consider scheduling the work under the list of dangerous trades; and in the meantime will he impose rigid rules to govern the period of actual work on the respective processes, insist on mechanical draught by fan being employed to remove fumes and gases and the provision of adequate washing facilities, and the taking of meals by the work-people in places other than in the mills?
    §Mr. LLOYD
    It appears from a report by one of the medical inspectors of factories who has visited these mills that no serious trouble has arisen but that some of the employés have suffered from sore eyes due to fumes. It would seem that this can be prevented by improved ventilation in the process room, together with more care on the part of some of the men to wear the goggles provided for them, and methods of improving the ventilation are to be discussed with an inspector. A canteen with messroom and washing accommodation is being built. There appears to be no case on grounds of health for restricting the hours of work or for prohibiting the taking of meals on the premises, but the works will continue to receive special attention.

Information courtesey of Google.

Prior to 1939, a Mr Chippendale of Hawksworth Avenue, Guiseley, together with a swiss chemist named Swift, had the idea of esterification of cotton.

However, on the commencement WW2, the firm started to produce crestol yarn which was a coloured cotton thread, non conductive of electricity and which could be used on telephone wires, aeroplanes & other electrics.

The managing director was a Col. Knights-Trench, who was also one of the bosses in the Home Guard. The company started to manufacture artificial hand grenades. In 1941, the building in which these grenades were being charged with propellant a large explosion occurred resulting in the fatalities of four young women employees and severe injuries to a fifth young woman who survived.

After the war Cotopa Mills was making cotton insulation for cables, radar and wireless.

In 1948 a fire seriously damaged the mills and in January 1950 an explosion blew off the roof! The business subsequently moved to premises in Horsforth and the site was then used by Yorkshire Electricity, and in 1990 it was cleared for new housing.

A brief history – Information courtesey of Round and About Aireborough by Martin Rigg.

Cotopa Mill 1937

X150A – Cotopa Mill, 1937.

Cotopa Mills – 1937

This is Cecil David Denton, Chief Chemist, seen here at work in a laboratory which was situated on the 1st floor of the mill.

Cotopa Mills Staff 1930s

U17 – Cotopa Mill, 1930s.

Cotopa Mills – 1930s

Two members of the Cotopa Mills laboratory, staff names unknown.

Cotopa Mills Undated

U07 – Cotopa Mills, Undated.

Cotopa Mills – Undated

The mill was destroyed in a massive fire on New Year’s Eve in 1948 and a further explosion 1950 saw the demise of the premises The site was then used by the Yorkshire Electricity Board and was later demolished to make way for a new housing scheme in 1990.

During WW2, Cotopa Mills became a munitions factory for the war effort and employed local and non local workers in their munitions departments. During September 1941, the low stone building seen in the photograph opposite was the scene of a large explosion resulting in four fatalities and severe injuries to a fifth. To view Cotopa Mills Munitions Factory – Click Here.

Consolidated by Jack Brayshaw. 30 March 2022.
Last updated: 09 November 2023 – Photo ID: U17. 07 October 2023 – Text.

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