Lancashire Sock Manufacturing Co Ltd

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Lancashire Sock was founded in 1917 by William and his wife Mary Ormerod, manufacturing insoles for shoes and boots.

Mr George William Ormerod and his wife Mary, founders of Lancashire Sock

Mr George William Ormerod Junior, his brother Robert Ormerod and his wife Eunice

Present Managing Director, Mr George William Ormerod and his late brother Robert Ormerod

Aran William Ormerod, fourth generation of the Ormerod family

(1917 — PRESENT DAY)

Their two sons, George and Robert went on to expand the company by manufacturing and laminating in house, a range of cork and felt materials. Injection moulded sandals and children's wellingtons also became part of the company's products.

Over the last 45 years, William Ormerod, grandson of the founder, has developed the company's products and acquired four competitors, Thomas Green, Greenfield Laminates, Textile Combining Ltd and the latex foam division of Stadex Industries in Wrexham.

Located in Bacup, we now have three latex foam coating lines, producing a wide variety of latex foam coated materials for shoe manufacture and removable insoles, crumb rubber for carpet underlays, metallised heat reflective fabric for ironing boards and synthetic chamois for cleaning cloths.

In addition, we are also a fully independent high quality specialist flame laminator of a wide variety of PVC, foam, textile material and film up to two metres wide.


We also offer extensive hot melt adhesive laminating services of breathable PU Films and thermo coating of textiles, foams, pressure sensitive adhesives and commission perforate flexible materials in roll form.

One of our growth areas is the production of synthetic cleaning cloths, which can be supplied in 100 metre rolls or cut pieces, Brycham and Eurocham being two of the more popular products in this range.


The site occupied by Lancashire Sock Manufacturing Company has been associated with textiles, in particular, cotton spinning.

The first cotton mill to occupy the site in the 1790's was Mount Pleasant Mill. This was a spinning mill producing (hand powered) machine spun weft for the handloom weaving of cotton and fustian.

This mill operated for approximately sixty years as a small concern employing around fifty people.

Lack of a reliable water supply (due to the limited water catchment area at this altitude) for water wheel powered spinning prevented the mill from expanding its operations, so in the mid 1850’s it was re-built and re-named Britannia Mill with steam powered spinning machines in the three storey section, and looms in a single storey weaving shed.

The non-condensing steam engines used required large quantities of water so a mill lodge was built across the road from the Britannia Mill, adjacent to Sarah Street.

A second weaving shed, known as Albert Shed was built a few years later to the rear of Britannia Mill which was supplied by water from a small lodge situated approximately to the rear of 141-153 New Line.

The Albert Shed lodge was fed from streams from Stubbylee Moss and the Deansgreave pits and quarries, Trough Syke (the watercourse running parallel to the road, and culverted under Britannia Mill) being at too low a level.

In 1880/1 the Bacup to Rochdale railway was constructed, and the water supplies from Stubbylee and Deansgreave were diverted by the Railway Engineers into a cutting parallel to the railway line, bypassing Albert Shed lodge. This was filled in and the weaving shed began to draw water from Britannia Mill lodge.

It soon became apparent that the size of the Britannia lodge was barely sufficient for the two mills' needs, and in the summer months, lack of water was a limiting factor in production.

In 1884/5, a further lodge, of larger capacity, to act as a buffer supply was constructed on the hill facing the mills at Nanny Brow. Several natural springs were diverted to feed the new lodge, the outfall of which, via a culvert, from Old Trough Gate to Rochdale Road, ran into the Britannia lodge. A direct 12" piped water supply from the new lodge was also available to the mill.

With the exception of further sections of culverting, the watercourses of this time are essentially the same today.


Britannia Mill was run for most of the 19th century by the firm of Sutcliffe & Smith. William Sutcliffe moved to Bacup from Todmorden Valley in 1823 and married the daughter of James Smith of Burnley. He ran the corn mill which was situated at the bottom of Todmorden Road in Bacup and flour milling was the main business of the family. He wisely entered the growing cotton industry in partnership with Mr Smith of Britannia in the 1860's (whilst continuing the flour milling business) and when he died in 1873, he was succeeded by his son James Smith Sutcliffe who had worked with his father since he left school in 1850. James Smith Sutcliffe was very prominent in the public life of Bacup, having been on the Local Board, a JP and the third mayor, and he also showed great generosity to orphans and widows in particular.

His two greatest friends were Henry Maden, Bacup's foremost public figure, and Edward Hoyle, joint head of Bacup's largest cotton manufacturing firm.

Although relations within the workforce seem to have been good, with as many 'treats' as most other firms and only one short strike, a report of a case in 1868 is a good example of many such cases that were heard by the magistrates around that time. With trade growing rapidly after the cotton panic, and a great shortage of labour, manufacturers were anxious to keep their workforce and enforce the rule that employees should give a fortnight's notice of intention to leave. Thomas Loons, an employee of Sutcliffe and Smith was summonsed for leaving work without notice. He contended that the rules of the mill had never been read to him, and that he could not read, but he still had to pay expenses and return to work. It must have been extremely hard for an ordinary mill hand to pay expenses, but it was the normal outcome of such cases, regardless of the reason for leaving work.

The firm prospered, especially through the 1870s. At a treat in 1877 an employee reminisced that seven years previously there had been 7 carding engines at the mill, but in 1877 there were 53, and that the number of looms had increased in similar proportion. Growth was halted during the depression at the end of the decade, and it was further set back by a serious fire in 1886, although the £5,000 damage was covered by insurance.


The fire started on the ground floor, but hanging healds caught light, and the fire spread to the upper stories by the wooden casing of the driving strap for the engine. To make matters worse, the gas caught alight, and only the iron doors between the rooms slowed down the fires progress. The only fire fighting equipment to hand was hydrants and hoses, but despite a good supply of water, fire engines were needed to get the fire under control. Joshua Lord and Son's engine, from Todmorden Road, was sent for and a phone call summoned the 'West of England' fire engine from Whitworth. They took an hour to arrive and the fire was finally extinguished after 4 ½ hours. By contrast, at another fire 10 years later, when Bacup had at last acquired its own engine, the mill whistle was blown and Bacup fire brigade soon quenched the fire, with little damage being caused.

Shortly after becoming a limited company in 1914, the firm closed down, and a new company was formed to run the mill - The Britannia Mill Company (Bacup) Ltd. It concentrated on ring spinning (which had been pioneered so successfully many years before in Oldham) and doubling. In the boom after the First World War the company was declaring a dividend of 20% for half a year, and it went on the build another mill in Rochdale.

Nevertheless, like many other cotton companies, The Britannia Mill Company stopped trading after the First World War. Lancashire Sock Manufacturing Company moved in in 1926, sharing it with Gaskells (who occupied the single storey weaving shed and the two storey section on the main road) until they moved out in 1990, when Lancashire Sock took over all of Britannia Mill.

Lancashire Sock Manufacturing Company • Britannia Mill • Bacup • Lancashire OL13 9RZ • England

© Copyright 2014 Lancashire Sock is Registered in England. VAT No: GB146 4462 64. Reg. No: 00525682. Reg. Office: Britannia Mill, Bacup, Lancashire 0L13 9RZ. All rights reserved.