Ticking Clocks at the Mill

Dan Sykes, Museum & Archive Assistant takes us on a timely journey

April 29th, 2024

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We look after a lot of clocks in the Archive, but two caught my attention recently when I noticed they were made right here in Farsley. The biggest one is inscribed ‘GREENWOOD FARSLEY’, while the other says, ‘C. W. BROADBENT FARSLEY’. This intrigued me – I didn’t expect Farsley to have one clockmaker, never mind two! Just who were Greenwood and Broadbent?

The two clocks in Sunny Bank Mills Archive

William Painter Greenwood was born in 1841 in Faringdon, Oxfordshire, where he married Elizabeth Phillips in 1866.[i] While in the south, they had three daughters, but sometime in the 1870s the whole family moved to number 13, Andrew Square, just a stone’s throw from Sunny Bank Mills.[ii] They must have stood out as most of their neighbours were born and bred either in Farsley or the surrounding area.[iii] The street as it was no longer exists, demolished to make way for the car park and high-rise flats off Water Lane, but the first house of the old terrace can still be seen behind the post office.[iv]

The site of Andrew Square off Farsley Town Street.

William described himself as a ‘working jeweller’ in the 1881 census, but over the next decade, the trade directories and the 1891 census record him as a watchmaker and clockmaker.[i] 13, Andrew Square appears as his business address too, so part of the family home must have been William’s workshop, full of clock innards.[ii] Sadly, William appears on the death register in 1900, but I haven’t been able to find where he was buried.[iii] Farsley must have become home for the Greenwoods though, as the census enumerator still found Elizabeth and her daughters living in Andrew Square in 1901, and they’d moved down the hill into Bryan Street by 1911.[iv]

But around the corner in Land Street, Farsley-born Charles William Broadbent was living with his father John, his mother Margaret and two of his older brothers.[v] In 1901, Charles William was a 15-year-old apprentice watchmaker, but over the next decade he established his own business in Town Street.[vi] In October 1910, he joined other local businesses in supporting the British Empire Bazaar at St. John’s Church, a weekend of fairs and markets in aid of the renovation of the church and the vicarage. His advert appears in the souvenir handbook.[vii]

W. Broadbent appears in an advertising page in the souvenir handbook of the British
Empire Bazaar. Reproduced with the kind permission of Leeds Local and Family History Library.

If you look at the censuses for Victorian or Edwardian Farsley, it’s clear that most people worked in one of the village’s many mills. But I think it’s really interesting that the wool industry was so pervasive here that even the people who weren’t directly involved in textiles, like Greenwood and Broadbent, were still providing essential services to the mills, such as by making the clocks they needed to keep production running smoothly.

Of course, there’s still lots more to research! What brought the Greenwoods all the way from Oxfordshire to a Yorkshire mill village? Did the two clockmakers ever meet? And what other fixtures and fittings of the mill were produced locally? As always, we’ll keep you updated with anything we discover.

[i] Slater’s Royal National Commercial Directory of the West Riding of Yorkshire, 10th edn, 3 vols (Manchester: Royal National Directory, 1887), III, p. 53; Kelly’s Directory of the West Riding of Yorkshire, 7th edn, 8 vols, (London: Kelly & Co., 1889), II, p. 341; Slater’s Royal National Commercial Directory of the West Riding of Yorkshire, 11th edn, 4 vols (Manchester: Royal National Directory, 1891), I, p. 102; UK Census 1891, ED 5, sch. 73, fol. 78a, accessed online at ‘Farsley 1891 Census’, Calverley Info, <https://calverley.info/cen_cal_1891_ed5.htm> [accessed 21 April 2024].[ii] Slater’s West Riding of Yorkshire (1887), III, p. 53; Kelly’s West Riding of Yorkshire (1889), II, p. 341; Slater’s West Riding of Yorkshire (1891), I, p. 102.[iii] England and Wales Deaths, Greenwood, William Painter, 1900, M Quarter, North Bierley, vol. 9b, p. 192.

[iv] UK Census 1901, ED 5, sch. 144, fol. 89, accessed online at ‘Farsley 1901 Census’, Calverley Info, <https://calverley.info/cen_fars_1901_ed5.htm> [accessed 21 April 2024]; UK Census 1911, ED 6, sch. 184, accessed online at ‘Farsley 1911 Census’, Calverley Info, <https://calverley.info/cen_fars_1911_ed6.htm> [accessed 21 April 2024].

[v] UK Census 1901, ED 6, sch. 233, fol. 113, accessed online at ‘Farsley 1901 Census’, Calverley Info, <https://calverley.info/cen_fars_1901_ed6.htm> [accessed 21 April 2024].

[vi] UK Census 1901, ED 6, sch. 233, fol. 113, accessed online at ‘Farsley 1901 Census’, Calverley Info, <https://calverley.info/cen_fars_1901_ed6.htm> [accessed 21 April 2024]; UK Census 1911, ED 6, sch. 286, accessed online at ‘Farsley 1911 Census’, Calverley Info, <https://calverley.info/cen_fars_1911_ed6.htm> [accessed 21 April 2024]; Kelly’s Directory of the West Riding of Yorkshire, 12th edn, 2 vols (London: Kelly’s Directories, 1912), I, p. 280.

[vii] Souvenir of the British Empire Bazaar (Farsley: Parish Church of St. John the Evangelist, 1910), p. 10.

[i] England and Wales Births, Greenwood, William Painter, 1841, J Quarter, Faringdon, vol. 6, p. 178; England and Wales Marriages, Greenwood, William P., 1866, J Quarter, Faringdon, vol. 2c, p. 429; England and Wales Marriages, Phillips, Elizabeth, 1866, J Quarter, Faringdon, vol. 2c, p. 429; England and Wales Births, Greenwood, Elizabeth P., 1867, S Quarter, Faringdon, vol. 2c, p. 253.

[ii] UK Census 1881, ED 5, sch. 53, fol. 80-81, accessed online at ‘Farsley 1881 Census’, Calverley Info, <https://calverley.info/cen_cal_1881_ed5.htm> [accessed 21 April 2024].

[iii] UK Census 1881, ED 5, sch. 53, fol. 80-81, accessed online at ‘Farsley 1881 Census’, Calverley Info, <https://calverley.info/cen_cal_1881_ed5.htm> [accessed 21 April 2024].

[iv] Malcolm Haist, John Procter, and Malcolm Rushworth, Farsley: A History of a Village and its People (Pudsey: Pudsey and District Civic Society, 2016), p. 54.

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