Wednesday, 28 October 2015

LUKE RALPH - TINSMITH (Pickering Street Tin Works and later Chapel St)

Luke Ralph - Tinsmiths of Chapel Street

Account compiled by Marie Ives (Great Grandaughter)

I have recently had a chance to look at some old ledgers that belonged to the firm owned and run by my Grandfather and his father before him, namely, Luke Ralph and Sons.  They were tinsmiths in Haslingden for about 85 years, established at the bottom of Chapel Street and before that, for a short time, in Pickering Street.  There are over 50 mills with whom the firm had accounts listed in the book, they were mostly in Haslingden, Rawtenstall and Helmshore.  The firm also did work for Haslingden Cooperative Society and Haslingden Borough Council as well as the local Brewery.  The first book dates from 1919/20 to 1931, and is one of 5; the others are more up to date.

My Grandfather came from Burnley to Haslingden in the 1880's as a child, with his father, mother, sister and brother; four more children were born in Haslingden.  They lived in Warwick Street for a spell, later moving to Clegg Street.  When my Grandfather married he lived in Piccadilly Street, first at No. 6 later moving to No. 49, where he died in 1958.  His only son, Craven carried on the business until the premises in Chapel Street were compulsory purchased by the Council in the late 1970's, and the business then closed down.

The firm in the 1920s supported all the family and one or two tradesmen who worked for them.  Luke Ralph's youngest son trained to be a saddler in a shop at the bottom of Chapel Street on Bury Road, adjacent to the New Inn.  All the other sons (William, Harry, Tom and Luke) worked for the family firm for a while.  After a family fall out, William set up business in opposition to his father and brothers in Grane Road, Craven never returned from the first World War, Luke married and went to live in Rotherham, he died in 1939, Tom died in 1938.  Great grandfather Luke himself died in 1934 and my Grandfather, Harry, carried on with the business, taking his son, Craven as an apprentice.  The two sisters in the family (Mary Ann and Jane) at sometime of their lives worked in the mills, even though they were both deformed.  The both married late in life.

With a lot of help from one or two Ralph relations, who have access to the Internet, we have traced Luke Ralph's forebears back to Burnley and before that to Settle, to one William Ralph who was born there in 1580.  There were lots of tradesmen amongst the family, mainly joiners and blacksmiths, but also paupers as well and lots of servants and mill workers.

Here is Luke Ralph, sat in the back of his landau with his son Harry in the driving seat

In 1920 my great grandfather charged his customers two shillings per hour for a tradesman to work on jobs at the various mills that they worked for, he would keep a few pence for profit from the job and pay his workers about 1shilling and threepence per hour.  Alas there is no wages book to refer to amongst the books that have survived.

Below are items copied from his ledger, typical of the jobs the firm did.


March 1923
1 Funnel repaired                                                               4d
1 Spring Oil Can repaired                                               1s.2d
April 6th
25 Weft Cans repaired and balance                            £3.15s.0d
24 Weft Cans, steel handles on 12lbs                        £7.16s.0d
May 4th
10 Weft Cans repaired and balanced                          £1.10s.0d
October 19th
1 Copper Bucket repaired                                               1s.0d
December 18th
1 Spring Oil Can repaired                                               1s.0d
December 20th
2 New Steel Covers and Brackets and
Measuring Making and Fixing                                       11s.6d


May 27th
25 Oil Cans repaired                                                    16s.3d
Dec 9th
Man and apprentice 4 hrs each at Mill                            15s.4d
April 12th
20 16lb Weft Cans repaired and balanced                     £6.0s.0d
May 17th
1 New Strong Guard for Scutcher Machine Complete   £1.17s.0d
June 29th
16 Oil Cans repaired                                                       8s.0d


Itemised jobs done at the Brewery in Haslingden and
at the Hare and Hounds Hotel, Rawtenstall, The Crown
Hotel and Holts Arms,


April 20th
52 Weft Cans and divisions in same 3/6d Each             £9.2s.0d
14 Weft Cans Plain 3/0d Each                                     £2.2s.0d

Two of the Ralph Brothers in the yard in Pickering Street (Click over photo to enlarge)
Pickering Street was just at the back of the Court and Police Station and you would access it by going up George Street and just after Jim Barlows Ironmongery Shop turn right.

May 1st
Harry Ralph, Two and half hours on tin rollers 2/6d        6s.3d
May 5th
New 16lb Winders Cans   16/0d                              £9.12s 0d

The above is just a sampling of the firms accounts which Marie has documented in her article -

The majority of the jobs are now redundant; all the mills are gone as is Luke Ralph and Sons.
Most of the work the firm did towards the end of its existence was at Porritts and Spencers in Helmshore, right up until the firm closed down.

One of the more interesting accounts is for Haslingden Industrial Co-operative Society; the account is one of the first in the book, commencing in 1920.  They did lots of work for the Bakehouse, making loaf tins and baking trays as well as repairing egg whisks and buckets, things that we would not hesitate in throwing out these days, but the jobs kept them in work.  They also did jobs for the butchery dept., making tubes for their sausage machine, and also for the painting dept.,  Some of their work was for the various branches of the Co-op that were spread throughout Haslingden.  Ewood Bridge is mentioned as is Pine Street, Grane Road, Blackburn Road and Central Branch.

In August 1920 a mopping bucket was repaired for the Co-op Office at a charge of 6d, and in September 48 New Strong Loaf tins were made to sample at 1/-d (one shilling) each, charging them £2.8s.0d  Orders like this were for the H Dept., I presume these are for resale in the Hardware shop, but I am guessing.

The service they provided must have been satisfactory, by 1923/4 work was being carried out for the warehouse and for the garage.  In July 1924 a refrigerator at the Blackburn Road branch was repaired for the sum of 2s.9d.  Also in the same month they supplied 340 coal checks for bags for the princely sum of 16s.9d.  They were still repairing egg whisks, more or less by the dozen.  I can only think that they were larger than the household whisks and they made lots of their cakes and custards with lots of eggs.  In 1925 they were doing jobs for the cafe.

In March 1927 a new strong polished brass doorplate was supplied to the Hardware Dept., at a cost of 6s.0d, and a mopping bucket repaired for the Confectionery shop for 9d. And 10 strong steel plates were supplied to the Tea Room for 4s.9d. Whilst earlier, in February a lading can was repaired at a cost of 3d.  I think this is the cheapest price for job in the whole ledger.  Also in February a copper gas boiler was repaired at the Ambulance Hall for the price of 6s.6d. and a mudguard flap was repaired for a GCM Van for 2s.3d.

Another interesting account is with Haslingden Corporation, this again is one of the early accounts.

In May 1920 they supplied a sample dustbin and cover at a charge of 1s.3d. On June 6th, 6 new strong galvanised pales for the piggeries at the Towns Yard cost the ratepayers of Haslingden £8.12s.0d.  On August the 11th the firm supplied 2 new strong sheet iron plates and a stove pipe was repaired at the Secondary School at a cost of 12s.3d.  In November one steel ash barrow and frame - remaking and new steel bottom put in plus 26 new bolts and new cross rails put in all for £2.19s.6d.  On January 12th the following year a bigger job was done, at the Public Hall, this comprised one large exhaust ventilator repaired and remaking all new zinc top and strong galvanised bottom and base and knob and painting complete for the large sum of £21.17s.6d.

By September of the same year they were repairing a copper pipe for the petrol tank of a motor "lurry" and repairing a motor horn, later in the same month another copper pipe was repaired for a motor "lurry".  The individual charges for these jobs were 3s.3d., 6d, and 1s.6d, making a total of 5s.3d.  The spelling of "lurry" is as my great grandfather wrote it, I think a bit of Haslingden dialect is creeping in here.

In October a radiator was repaired for a motor bus and in December a new steam pipe was put on a road roller for 4s.9d  If the firm was doing repairs to Council vehicles one can only assume that the Council did not employ any mechanics at this time.

Craven Ralph and Wagon outside of works on Chapel St

Mills and Businesses with accounts with Luke Ralph and Sons from 1920 onwards

J.H. Ashworth and Co. Hall Carr Mills, Rawtenstall.
Abbey Carr and Woodfold Mill Co. Carr Mill, Haslingden
J. Barlow and Sons, Helmshore.
Wm Birtwistle, Carr Mill, Haslingden.
J.H. Birtwistle and Co. Park Mill, Helmshore.
Wm H. Baxter - Haslingden Brewery
J. Butterworth and Sons Waterfoot,
J. Barnes and Sons, Huncoat.
British Cotton and Wool Dyers Association
Carr Parker and Co, Charles Lane Mill, Haslingden
James Cotton and Co, Laneside Mill, Haslingden.
Coates Brothers Manufacturing Co. Reedsholme.
Cotton Cellulose Co. Union Mill Cloughfold.
Eccles Spinning and Manufacturing Co, Patricroft
Haslingden Corporation
Holden Wood Bleach Company
Hutch Bank Mill Co, Haslingden
Hargreaves Street Mftg Co. Haslingden
James Hasler Ltd, Vale Mill, Station Road, Haslingden
Haslingden Commercial Mftg Co. Commercial and Carr Mill
Haslingden Ind Co-op Society - various depts and shops
G. Haworth, Reedsholme,
Higher Mill Co.
Thos Hoghton Ltd, Forest Mill, Bacup.
Hazel Mill Co. Acre, Haslingden
J. Hoyle and Sons Rochdale.
Grane Mftg Co. Bury Road, Haslingden.
Globe Mftg Co. Stoneholme Mill, Crawshawbooth.
Goodshawfold Mftg Co. Crawshawbooth
Industrial Mftg Co. Baxenden
James Lambert Ltd, Carr Hall Mill, Haslingden.
J.W. Mitchell Ltd
Porritt and Spencer Ltd Sunnybank Mill, Helmshore.
J. Porritt and Son.
R.H. Pilling Reedsholme
L.H. Ormerod and Co. Albion Mill.
James Rothwell, Ilex Mill, Rawtenstall
James Rothwell, Stonefold Mill, Haslingden.
James Rothwell, Longholme Mill, Rawtenstall.
Rawtenstall Cotton Manufacturing Co.
Rhodesson Mftg Co. Britannia Mill, Crawshawbooth.
J. Stansfield and Sons Ltd.
A. Thorp Ltd, Laund Mill, Rawtenstall.
Torside Mftg Co. Middle Mill, Helmshore.
N. Tomlinson and Sons.
Vine Grove Mill Co. Vine Grove, Haslingden.
A. Worsley and Sons, Duckworth Clough Mill, Haslingden
N. Worsley Ltd, Longholme Mill, Rawtenstall.
N. Worsley Ltd, Rising Bridge Mill, Haslingden.
N. Worsley Ltd. Alliance and Victoria Mills, Haslingden
N. Worsley Ltd. Clough End Mill, Haslingden
T. Warburton and Sons, Flash Mills, Grane Road, Haslingden
L. Whittaker and Sons, Grane Road Mill, Haslingden.
A. Worsley and Sons - Bury Account

All the above are listed in the ledger dated 1919 - 1931 and these were the early customers of Luke Ralph, but has more and more ledgers have been produced, numerous additional companies are also listed within them ledgers (this here is only a sampling of the full customer database and showing just the early day customers)

The firm seems to have been doing a lot of transport work in 1937 for Joseph Porritt and Sons.  In October and November they were charged 8 shillings for 1 man and a motor to go to Bury, to Bury and Mossfield the price went up to 10 shillings.  In May of the next year the man and motor went to Helmshore and Bolton for a charge of 12 shillings. They made various trips to Helmshore and Stubbins Stations in 1938 charging 3 shillings and 4 shillings.  For Porritts the firm made hundred of 'lining cases' throughout this time, the charge was always below one pound.  In March 1940 Craven (my Uncle) who would be 21 years old at this time, worked 14 hours at R. Ashworth for which they were charged £1.11s.6d.  In 1937 the Cotton Cellulose Co. were charged £5.5s. for 48 and a half hours work by H. Whittaker, they were also charged £1.12s.4d. for work done by apprentice B.G. Smart for the same number of hours.  It would be interesting to look at a wages book for this period to see what wages these men were paid, but alas no book survives.

The work they did for Haslingden Corporation during the years 1941-42 included work for the Grammar School, Baxenden School, The Leyland Club, Turfcote, Transport Dept., Electric Works, CCS Nursery, War Nursery, Gas Works and General Works.  Turfocte was home for evacuees during part of the war and it would probably have been taken over by Haslingden Corporation.

In January 1942 work at Industrial and Mechanical Engineers included fixing trunking at Mill.  They were charged for 30 hours for C. Ralph at 2/6d..... £3.15s.0d. and Apprentice H.B. 20 hours at 9d....15s.0d.  Wages still seemed to be low, and I wonder how much an hour a tradesman was paid.

In 1946 the firm did work for The Crag Motor Co. Ltd., in Wellbank at Haslingden.  Work was done on various car repairs including Morris, Wolsley 24, Austin 10,16 and 12, Rover, Standard, Morris 8, Wolsley 18, Armstrong, Rolls, Renault, Riley, Commer, Scammell and Hillman.  I cannot remember a garage in Wellbank it was always a residential area, but that is the given address in the ledger.

There have been many, many more business accounts within Ledger 2 from 28th May 1937, also further ledgers which start from March 1948 and ends in July 1952 the firms are far too many to mention individually. The final ledger starts in the 1950s and goes on until 1962, with just one or two accounts made up later than this.

As the years went on the mills closed down and the firm's work was adapted to suit their new customers.  My grandfather did the office work until his death in 1958.  There was always a spittoon full of sawdust holding the door open in the small office where he sat on a high stool up to a long wood sloping desk.  looking through the window to see who came up the stairs from Chapel Street.  Next to the desk was a large safe.  Behind him there was an array of shelves and an old cupboard where I think he must have kept the books and ledgers when he was not working on them.  There was no typewriter, everything was always handwritten.  The only modern appliance in the office was a telephone.  I can remember it was always dusty and looked like it wasn't used very much.  He went to work every day until he started being ill shortly before his death.  When I was a child I can remember four or five different men who worked for the firm. (Jack Holden, Arnold Billington and Jak Hallam as well as my Uncle Craven).  Later when the work went down, my Uncle Craven Worked on his own for some years until the building and all the adjoining area was compulsory purchased by the Council in the 1970's.  The firms first work room and stables in Pickering Street also went with the clearance of the land.

Marie Ives,
Carr Mount,

Winter 2007 - 2008

Adverts for Luke Ralph  (Click over to enlarge)
Kindly contributed by Darren Ralph on 15th December 2015