Old Ilkeston Logo

Henry Carrier and Sons

After the three empty shops … then came Carrier’s factory yard.
The lace business of H. Carrier & Sons was, I believe, commenced by Henry Carrier in the late twenties or early thirties, but as I have no access to either deeds or records I cannot say which.
The Carrier family occupied premises and garden ground in this part of Bath Street in 1809, including a workshop housing frames at the bottom of the garden.

Uncle Henry

Let us start with ‘Uncle‘ Henry Carrier, the son of Thomas and Hannah (nee Barker) who had married in 1731.

‘Uncle‘ Henry died a bachelor in January 1812, and in his will he made provision for several of his nephews, all sons of his elder brother John, who had married Esther Woolin in 1770.

1 …  He left property in this part of Bath Street to his nephew Henry — by this time the latter had married Elizabeth Smith (in 1802) and had at least two young children. The property he inherited included the house that he was then living in and which fronted Bath Street (then called Town Street), as well as the workshop at the bottom of his yard, to the west of the house. He also was left two houses with gardens in Horsley Woodhouse.

2 … to his nephew Anchor Carrier, younger brother of Henry, ‘Uncle’ Henry left two houses in the same area, one of which Anchor was living in with his wife Betty (nee George) and their daughters, and which had access to East Street.

3 … and to nephew George, Henry left money to finance the building of a house on land in Cotmanhay, also left to George in the same will.

4 … there were also a bequests to nephew Thomas, niece Elizabeth, grandniece Ann (the daughter of nephew Henry), grandniece Hannah and grandnephew John (children of nephew Anchor)

In the same will ‘Uncle‘ Henry provided for the children of two of his sisters — Ellen and Amy.
Ellen had married George Adkin or Atkin of Pentrich in 1760.
Amy had married Edward Burgin of Horsley Woodhouse in 1772 and in 1812 her widower was living in one of ‘Uncle’ Henry’s properties there.
Both sisters had had several children.

Nephew Henry

And so it came to pass that in 1837, ‘nephew‘ Henry Carrier was occupying a grocer’s shop, a bonnet shop and hat shop in this part of Bath Street, an adjoining yard, garden and orchard, and a hosiery warehouse.

H. Carrier had four sons; Henry, William, Samuel and Joseph. Also one daughter.

There is more detail on nephew Henry, around the corner in East Street, where the family also held property — we shall meet most of them shortly.

Henry Carrier senior died in December 1852, aged 73. His wife Elizabeth had died in December 1848, aged 70 (despite what is carved on her gravestone).

In 1857 H. Carrier & Sons added a wing to their old lace factory in Bath Street, built an engine house, equipped the whole factory with shafting and installed stocking frames in the new part.
Men and their families came from Basford and district to work the new frames. Their names were Anthony, Benniston, Kirk and Whites, and by degrees the old stockingers were taken into the factory. Many women and girls were employed in seaming the hose, for where it had only been possible to make a single stocking on the old frame, on the new ones dozens could be turned out. The price of stockings went down, as the output was up, and soon a very poor quality was on the market.
The old-time stocking was made with good material and workmanship, but the steam worked frames, in many instances failed to give a satisfactory article to the wearer.
This business has ceased to exist, and the premises are used by H. Carrier & Sons.

Speaking before the House of Commons Select Committee on Railway Bills in 1866, Joseph Carrier described the firm’s movement of its goods.

“All our lace and hosiery goes to Nottingham, and the business connected with that has to be transacted by going to Nottingham….My brother employs a great many people. We have a greater weight of stuff than Mr. Ball; we make three or four times the quantity that he does; ours is a heavy material – we send tons a week to Nottingham. We send our manufactured stuff to Nottingham by the carriers and by our own conveyances. By rail we send hosiery in the rough, and it is finished in Nottingham. We pay 6d per bag by the carrier; what it is by train I am not quite sure; it would be something like 1s by an ordinary passenger train. We send a very small portion by rail when the carrier is gone; we do not make a rule of sending it by rail on account of the circuitous route and the expense”.

In June 1877 the partnership of Henry Carrier, Frederick William Goddard and Thomas Cutler of Nottingham and Ilkeston, trading as ‘Henry Carrier & Sons’, was dissolved.

In 1896 the Mount Pleasant factory in Nottingham was 16 windows long, three stories in height in one part, though a fourth storey had been added over the majority of the building. It employed between 40 and 50 hands, mainly women, and acted as the firm’s warehouse and saleroom, the principal factory being at Ilkeston.

In May of that year fire broke out in the finishing room, spread over the rest of the premises and destroyed most of it and its stock. Damage was estimated at £8000 – £9000.

In 1939, the year of the Ilkeston factory’s closure, the Ilkeston Pioneer noted that 60 or 70 years before, the factory’s whistle would proclaim the time to a large number of the town’s residents. ….
“When there was a doubt as to the time it was not an unusual question – Has Carriers gone? – or to be told – There’s Carriers”.

Lace and stocking making

Family history and connections would help Adeline to be well-informed about this industry.

Ilkeston in the early fifties of last century, was a small working-class Market Town with approximately three thousand inhabitants. There were no residential gentry.
Its chief industries were lace and stocking making. The man who had a frame at his home and worked it himself was often in a very poor way. The pay he received was not equal to the time occupied in making those single stockings, and he was very fortunate if he had a wife or daughter who could scam the stockings for him, as that was an extra expense.
Certainly a few had more to live upon than others, but all had to work in some way or other. When trade was bad the poorest had a very lean time, and had to have assistance from the parish. At that time the parish pay – now called the dole – and the loaves of bread were distributed at the old Cricket Ground Chapel on Thursday mornings. Rents were low, and so were the wages, but people in those days were more easily satisfied with what they earned, also with what their money could purchase for them. There were no amusements, fashions were simple, foodstuffs restricted in number, and home life was looked upon as the chief thing.

The youngest of Henry and Elizabeth’s sons was Joseph Carrier, draper of Bath Street, whom we shall now meet.