Tycoon Sam’s fully rounded life in focus

Sam Hills sample sheet

Sam Hills sample sheet

“Top British Manufacturer dies in Soyland, Business turnover worth millions. Lawyers gather in anticipation of protracted litigation as thousands of jobs are at risk”.

When Sam Hill of Soyland died he was described as “one of the greatest manufacturers in the kingdom” but this was in 1759 not in the Victorian era and Hill’s extensive business and property empire was based not on the Dickensian dark satanic mills but upon the coordination of hundreds if not thousands of handloom weavers, writes Dave Smalley.

As Anne Kirker told the Hebden Bridge Local History Society, Sam Hill’s business interests are well documented and have been much referred to by textile historians as well as supplying the background to Phyllis Bentley’s 1941 novel “Manhead”. Anne continues the trend of mining this invaluable historic resource and her caveat “work in progress” more truthfully would be described as “news from the front”. 

In an extremely well scripted and beautifully illustrated lecture Anne sought to put over a more rounded portrayal of Sam. This focussed on both his civic activities and on the fate of his extensive property interests. Who would have thought that a prime minster received his business education at a college in Soyland? The vivid colours of his textile samples must surely inspire even the least historically inclined textiles artist in Hebden Bridge. The lecture underpins one of the Calderdale Heritage Walks that are available for private groups (see www.calderdaleheritagewalks.org.uk).

Hebden Bridge Local History Society lectures begin again on January 8, 2014, when Alan Gardner, specialist in historic building conservation, will share his thoughts on historic buildings and their repair. All welcome at the Methodist Hall at 7.30pm. Details from.hebdenbridgehistory.org.uk




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