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Home » Memories » Pre-1939 » All History Matters, 1700 to 1934 (1)

All History Matters, 1700 to 1934 (1)

Ivy House

E068 – Ivy House, Undated.

Title All History Matters (1)
Date 1700 – 1750
Location Aireborough
Written By Carlo Harrison
Comment A selection of historical pieces taken from the Archives held in Yeadon Town Hall.

1700 – 1750

Life in a Yeadon home in 1700 written in 1880.
In those days all the carding, scribbling, weaving and spinning was done by hand.
The head of the family would have before him an article similar to a burling board on the face of which were fixed coarse cards (i.e. covered with wire all leaning the same way) & upon these the wool was placed. In his hand the operator held a square board also covered with cards and by a see-saw motion of this card over the burling board the fibres of the locks of wool were combed & prepared as cardings to be spun.
The spinning was something done by the good wife, but oftener by the daughter, from whence came the appellation, spinster.
The fair spinsters when busily at work were a very pretty and interesting sight; they were given much to singing too, the whirl of the spinning wheel suggesting the song so frequently heard from the fair worker.
The sons of the house would be whistling their merry tunes to the music of the swinging rods and the looms.
Others of the family would be employed in warping webs and winding bobbins.
The foregoing picture might present the idea of humble contentment and happiness; but when we consider that such a family comprising five or six in number could not by their united efforts earn as much as one good workman in the present day (1880) we must admit that they were contented with considerably less than the poorest Yeadon family of the present day would be.
People in those days were accustomed to size & scour the web by wringing them with their hands and the constant practice of this in hot water had a tendency to produce soreness.
To obviate this a weaver one day thought of a large bottle neck with which it would be more convenient to pull them through.
This experiment answered satisfactorily, and ultimately resulted in the invention of the web pot.

Ivy House in Rawdon 1700s.
The fleeces arrived on the back of a pack-horse. These would then be sorted out.
Only short staple wool was used by the manufacturers, so that the long wool had to be chopped up into “shorts”. The wool was taken down to the well in the Lower Croft by Over Lane to be washed and scoured. There the fibre would be beaten with sticks and then the wool would be laid out on the hillside to dry.
Rawdon is in the coloured cloth area and traditions say that the dyes were boiled at home. The old people talk with some glee of the nights they have sat up boiling dyewood in a pan to prepare liquor for dying the wool.
After dying the wool was put into a swing to “fleyk” or tease it to open up the fibres.
Abraham and Isaac (sons of Mr. Grimshaw, owner of Ivy House) would then be employed sprinkling oil into layers of wool, beating and thrashing the whole mass until their arms ached, for the better oiled the wool, the easier the process of carding, spinning & weaving.
Then coarse-toothed hand cards were brushed through bundles of wool to untangle the fibres and the sliver rolled off, with its hairs lying criss-cross in all directions it was then ready for spinning.

Mrs. Grimshaw and her daughter Sarah would use a one-threaded great spinning wheel. All that was needed was to draw out a tuft of wool with the left hand and to turn the wheel with the right hand, the revolving spun the wool into a long thread.
The introduction of the treadle wheel in the 18th century must have been welcome by the Grimshaw women for it enabled them to spin seated instead of standing. They could spin seven pounds of medium yarn in seven days working continuously for 12 hours.
Winding the yarn into hanks had to be performed separately on the great wheel on simple wooden hank winders (slubbing)

Besides spinning the ladies had to look after the house & the small holding.
It took Josiah two hours to weave a yard of cloth at a rate of 10 to 15 throws a minute stopping frequently to rewind & re-tension the web. When the weaving was finished the web was taken down and carried outside to be scoured. To remove the oil they laid it out on the grass & “lecked” it or pounded it with substances to remove the oil, the ammonia from urine was used. The pungent smelling cloth was taken down to the fulling mill to be washed & brought back to dry. Next it was taken down again to be milled.

The Fulling Mill was the clothiers headquarters. Josiah loaded his bale of cloth on the pony twice every week and trotted down the valley to Esholt or Calverley to the Fulling Mill. The first time the cloth was beaten by heavy hammers worked by waterwheel or horse gin to wash away the dirt & grease, the second time to shrink the material and “felt” the wool fibres. The last wash was in the river to rinse away the soap and fullers earth, then the cloth was measured & stamped by the inspector & taken home.

There is a legend which is attached to the reputation of Yorkshire cloth which has its amusing side and is connected with the State’s insistence that pieces of cloth must be of a standard size when they were passed by the inspector at the Fulling Mill. When the cloth was narrower than it should have been the clothiers took it back home and stretched it hard on the tenter frame, with the result that when the cloth was next got wet it shrank. The story goes that the Russian army clad in new overcoats made from Yorkshire cloth paraded before the Czar in a heavy shower. The resulting disarray of their uniforms caused the Yorkshire clothier to get a bad reputation.

The last the family saw of the cloth was when Josiah Grimshaw took it down to Leeds on the back of a pony; less fortunate people had to walk & carry the cloth on their heads.
Leeds cloth market was held near the bridge at the bottom of Briggate on Tuesdays & Saturdays

Daniel Defoe describes Leeds market:-
“Early in the morning trestles are place in two rows in the street sometimes two rows on a side across which boards are laid which makes a kind of temporary counter on wither side from one end to the other.
The clothiers come early in the morning with their cloth and as few bring more than one piece (the market days being so frequent), they go into the inns & public houses with it & there set it down.
About six o’clock in summer and seven in winter the clothiers all being come by that time, the market bell at the end of the old chapel by the bridge rings, upon which it would surprise a stranger to see how in a few minutes without hurry or noise or the least disorder the whole market is filled & all the boards covered with cloth as close as the pieces can lie long ways, each proprietor standing behind his own piece.”

Defoe also describes the bargaining procedure between seller and buyer which began as the bell rang & buyers entered the market.
The whole procedure was over by 8.30am when the bell rang again & signalled the clearing of the street.

“Thus you see 10 or 20,000 pounds worth of cloth and sometimes more bought and sold in little more than an hour, the law of the market being the most strictly observed that I have ever saw in any market of England”.

Yeadon Dam (Lower Gill Mill)
Agreement dated 20th September 1705 between John Holmes of Nether Yeadon acting for Zachariah Collier & Abraham Milner & Walter Calverley of Esholt to permit Walter Calverley to build a dam at Yeadon on Gill Beck.

This indenture made ye Seventh day of October in ye fifth year of ye reign of our Sovereign Lady Ann, by ye Grace of God over England, Scotland, France & Ireland, Queen, Defender of ye faith. And in ye year of our Lord God, One Thousand Seven Hundred & Six, between Abraham Bayley Churchwarden of ye Parish of Guysley in ye county of York, and Timothy Harrison & William Myers, Overseers of ye poor of ye parish aforesaid, of ye one part. And Wm. Myers Guysley aforesaid of ye other part. Witnesseth That ye said Churchwarden & Overseer by ye assistance of her Majestys Justices of ye Peace of ye said county whose names are hereunder written (according to the form of ye Statute made in ye 3rd years of ye Reign of ye late Queen Elizabeth, an act for ye relief of ye poor) have putt and bound Ann Barritt (Daughter of Wm. Barritt) a poor child of ye parish aforesaid Apprentice to ye said Wm. Myers untill ye said Ann Barritt shall come of ye age of twenty one years (or be marryed) During which time she shall faithfully serve her said Master, his Secrets Keep his lawfull commands every where obey. She shall do no damage to her said Master nor consent to any to be done bit in all things shall serve him as a true and faithfull apprentice And ye said Wm. Myers shall during ye term aforesaid give ye said Apprentice good and reasonable ….. and also find and provide good sufficient meat, drink, washing, lodging & apparel during ye said term, & att ye end of ye said term shall provide two suits of close (viz. one for Sabbath & another for workday) for his said Apprentice & also shoes, hose, shirts & all other things meet for such Apprentice. In witness, wherof ye parties to these presents have herunto interchangeably sett their hands & seals the day & year above written.


6th July 1716 Bargain & Sale from Zachariah Collier of Yeadon to Sir W. Calverley of liberty to build a call or dam cross over Yeadon or Gill Beck in the lane leading from Yeadon Gill to Stone Top where Abraham Milner Lives.

29th & 30th January 1722/3. Lease & Release from Sir W. Calverley to Samuel Hemingway of Boldshaw Hall, Bradford of 1/3 of the Mill & Dam Close near the Gill.

An agreement dated 15th & 16th March 1727/8 reversed all of this.

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Consolidated by Jack Brayshaw. 04 August 2022.
Last updated: 04 August 2022.

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