Lakeland Bobbin Makers

Lakeland Bobbin Makers

The Philipson Mills – Cunsey to Spark Bridge

by Douglas Philipson

At the height of production more than seventy Lakeland bobbin mills poured out millions of wooden bobbins for the giant cotton mills of industrial Lancashire.

The Philipson family, owners and managers of bobbin mills in the Lake District, were part of this huge industry for nearly a century and a half. The late Douglas Philipson started work at the Spark Bridge Mill in 1929 as a young lad of 15. Lakeland Bobbin Makers is his unique account of the Lake District bobbin industry and a vivid portrayal of a busy bobbin mill in its heyday.

‘There have been a plethora of books of reminiscences, but this is better written and more informative than most.’
Helen Caldwell. Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Newsletter. Spring 2011

Price: £6.99 (inc P&P)

 

  • Paperback: 99 pages / B&W illustrations
  • Publisher: Handstand Press (2010)
  • Dimensions: 20.6 x 14.8 x 1 cm
  • ISBN: 978-0-9552009-6-0
  • Category – Local History

Douglas Philipson

D[1]._Philipson_-_Young_Man_001

Douglas Philipson was born in 1915 and brought up at The Strands, about a mile and a half from Spark Bridge on the River Crake. He worked at Spark Bridge Bobbin Mill from 1929, with an interlude during the Second World War, until the mid-1950s when the family emigrated to Canada and he began a new career in the cosmetics industry. Douglas Philipson died in 2000.

It took a couple of coincidences for the book to be published.

Douglas Philipson’s daughter Gillian Heinrichs – originally of Spark Bridge but now of Canada – discovered her father’s manuscript amongst his papers after his death. Quite by chance, she was introduced at a party to her neighbour’s daughter who had married and moved to  moved to Nibthwaite in England, close to Spark Bridge.

Gillian was subsequently put in touch with Handstand Press who were delighted to be able to publish her father’s personal and unique account of a long-gone Cumbrian industry.

Review

Lakeland Bobbin Makers.  The Philipson Mills – Cunsey to Spark Bridge
By Douglas Philipson.

Four generations of Philipsons owned and managed local bobbin mills and it was Thomas, in the second generation, who built the Spark Bridge mill.  His grandson, Douglas, was sent to work in the mill in 1929 at the age of 15 and continued until 1956 (apart from War years) when the business was sold and he emigrated  to Canada.  In his retirement he decided to write about how bobbins were made and his experiences in the mill. The book covers all processes from the choice of coppice wood to the sale of finished bobbins to the Lancashire cotton mills, and when that market declined, the diversification into children’s toys – helped by a craze for yo-yo’s! There have been a plethora of books of reminiscences, but this is better written and more informative than most.  Blocking, boring, rincing, roughing are all described in some detail to satisfy the industrial historian, while descriptions of the hardships in the workplace and social life of the workers create a vivid picture of an industrial village community.

Helen Caldwell

Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society
Newsletter. Spring 2011