The Marchbanks of Cowling

I discovered when researching my family tree that my Great Great
Grand uncle’s son William Marchbank born in 1826 in Bradford, came
to Cowling and influenced and shaped its development.

He married into the well known local family of Emmott, marrying Ann Emmott in September 1845. William was already a successful businessman in Bradford and set up his Grocers shop on Road Side in Cowling. It is said he invented and connected a telephone line from his house at
Lane Ends to the house at the other end of the row.

When John Binns of Cowling started to build his first Mill in 1851
money soon ran out when he had only reached the first storey of the building. He then found a partner in William Marchbank who was “of more education, an interesting personality and a versatile man”.

The Mill was finally completed and they started trading as Binns and Marchbank and started with 80 looms. They also sub-let to William
Watson who also had 80 looms and John Snowden who had 56 looms.
The first loom was started by a Mrs Elizabeth Bradley in 1852. The firm
were Worsted Weavers and the cloth woven was known as “Camlet”. It was 33 inches wide by 57 yards long and weighed 19 ½ lbs. It was sold
through the Bradford merchants to the Russian and Baltic armies.

In 1865 the tenants were given notice to leave and Binns and
Marchbank bought some power looms from William Shuttleworth who
had tried power weaving and failed. They then became the sole
occupiers and in 1867 had 260 looms operating.

In 1872 the partnership was amicably dissolved, his sons John and
Thomas Binns took over the business. William Marchbank continued
operating at Royd Mill Shed and in 1875 had a total of 298 looms. This
Mill was locally known as the “Baulk” named after the Baulk engine that was used in the early days

William Marchbank laid the foundation stone for the Liberal Club and Institute, now old Village Hall on 31st October 1885 and presented it to
the people of Cowling for their social use.

Thomas Watson married Miss Mary Marchbank in 1875 and they
carried on the business after her father’s death in November 1890 aged
64. The business was subsequently sold to Thomas Binns in September
1898 whose family ran it until 1971.

William Marchbank did a great deal for the development of Cowling
and improved the livelihood of its people and ensured its prosperity

By Robert Wildeman