Records from the Crossley empire ‘our finest treasure’

THE John Crossley collection has been judged the best archive treasure in Calderdale.

From little beginnings, John Crossley had grown his empire into the largest carpet manufacturers in the world by 1879.

At its peak, around 5,000 people were employed at the giant Dean Clough complex in Halifax, which stretched for half a mile.

And while carpet production ceased in 1983, much of the complex remains, housing many businesses in a hub of commercial and cultural units.

The West Yorkshire Archive Service sought votes for its “Treasures of the Archives” campaign to find the five top treasures within collections in the five council districts.

Votes were cast at Halifax Central Library and online and locally the Crossley collection pipped the Anne Lister Diaries.

The other contenders were Fielden Bros (Todmorden), Waterhouse Charities and Halifax Choral Society.

The records in the Crossley collection cover every aspect of the manufacture of Crossley carpets, which were sold all around the world and renowned for their quality and craftsmanship.

The collection also illustrates the workforce at work and play with annual outings, the Crossley’s Carpets Works Band and the Dean Clough Library and Institute, as well as the firm’s diverse other interests, including plantations in Louisiana, and coal mines in the towns of Sharlston, Wragby and Snydale.

Also documented is the philanthropic generosity of the Crossley family to the people of Halifax and further afield.

“Lots of people have families who worked at Crossley’s and have warm memories of the Crossley family,” said Pat Sewell, collection co-ordinator for West Yorkshire.

Hundreds of boxes house the Crossley collection and many items are available to view by appointment.

The Calderdale archives include local authority records dating from the 17th century, along with records relating to churches and chapels, societies, schools, charities, families and estates.

Much has been transferred online in recent years, enabling people to do preparatory work at home.

Other regional winners were: Tetley’s (Leeds), The Fisher Letter Collection (Kirklees), The Alhambra (Bradford), and the Winn family of Nostrell Priory (Wakefield).

The Calderdale Archive Service can be contacted on 01422 392636.