Sir Thomas Wardle, Leek

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Date:1900 - 1908 (c.)

Description:Thomas Wardle was born on January 26 1831 to parents Joshua and Mary. His father was the owner of a silk dyeing business at Cheddleton Heath, which Thomas joined at the age of about 16, and was soon followed by his brother George. The newly named 'Wardle and Son' prospered, with Thomas becoming increasingly heavily involved in chemical experimentation and developments. His major achievement was to introduce a wild Indian 'tussur' silk into production in Britiain after many years spent working of suitable dyes for the material.

In 1857, Thomas married Elizabeth Wardle, a distant cousin. They had 14 children together, of which 9 survived to adulthood. In the early years of their marriage the couple lived at Leekbrook, before they moved to 62 St. Edward Street, and latterly 54 St. Edward Street.

In 1872 Thomas bought the Hencroft Dyeworks and the Mill Street Dyeworks in Leek. William Morris, the leader of the Arts and Crafts Movement spent time at the dyeworks between 1875-77 reviving the use of vegetable dying. Morris and Thomas Wardle remained friends until Morris' death in 1896.

Thomas and George bought another dyeworks, the 'Churnet Works' around 1875, and more premises in later years. The business flourished, and the men took in several partners, so the firm's name changed accordingly.

Thomas was an active member of the North Staffordshire Field Club, holding office as President, and Vice President for around 40 years. He held other positions including the Chairmanship of the Silk Association of Great Britain and Ireland, and Fellowships of the Chemical Society and the Geological Society. In addition he was heavily involved in local church affairs particularly in the area of music. In 1897 Queen Victoria gave him a knighthood for his services to the silk industry.

Sir Thomas Wardle died on January 3 1909 aged 77.


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Creators: Mr W.H. Horne - Creator

Donor ref:LP-1-62 (28/5192)

Source: Leek Library

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