Sir Francis Crossley

"My name is Francis Crossley. My father, John Crossley, was founder of Crossley Carpets. He was born in 1772 and thirty years on, in 1802, father along with my Uncle Thomas and a man called James Travis took a lease on Dean Clough Mills. After 20 years, the lease expired and their partnership was dissolved. Father renewed the lease in his own right and in 1830 he was in a position to be able to buy out the only other carpet factory in Halifax, owned by a Mr Abbott and Mr Ellerton. I was the youngest of 5 brothers and was sent to school in Halifax and while I was still a schoolboy my pocket money depended on doing work. I had a loom set up in father's mill and when I wasn't in school that is where you would find me.

Father was 64 years of age when he died in 1837 and it was my brothers John and Joseph, not forgetting their youngest sibling, myself Francis who carried on the business. The new firm was called J. Crossley & Sons and it grew to be the largest concern of its kind in the world. Its buildings covered an area of 20 acres and the firm gave employment to between five and six thousand people. Its rapid growth was due to the emergence of steam power and machinery in the production of carpets. We acquired patents and then devised and patented improvements which placed us in advance of the rest of the trade and large sums accrued to us from royalties alone.

On the 11th of December, 1845 I married Martha Brinton of Kidderminster. By 1849 I was Mayor of Halifax and became a Liberal Member of Parliament for Halifax on the 8th July, 1852, sitting for the borough until 1859, when I became the member for the West Riding of Yorkshire.

My first major gift to Halifax was in 1855 with the building of twenty-one almshouses with an endowment which gave six shillings a week to each person living there. Then 2 years later, after an enjoyable visit to the USA, I decided to build a public park in Halifax, landscaped to give it some of the beauty which I had seen in America and so People's Park was opened on the 15th of August, 1857. It was designed by the famous Sir Joseph Paxton, who planned the Crystal Palace and with Edward Milner and it stood within a stone's throw of my home, Belle Vue. About 1860, John and Joseph and I began the building of an orphan home and school on Skircoat Moor. This was completed at our own expense and endowed by us with a sum of £3,000 a year.This was designed for the maintenance of children who had lost one or both parents and had accommodation for four hundred.

I received my baronetage on 23 January, 1863 and in 1864 our business was changed into a limited liability company. A portion of the shares in the new company were offered to our workers under favourable conditions.

Despite all these accolades being heaped on me I remained a hard-working Yorkshire man who held firmly to my Christian faith and felt a strong desire to ease the lot of the less fortunate townspeople."

After a long illness, Sir Francis Crossley died at Bellevue, Halifax,on 5th January 1872, and was buried in the general cemetery on 12th January. Calderdale College, situated above People's Park is situated on Francis Street.

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