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Over the years Long Eaton and Sawley have had a diversity of industries of a highly specialised character. In addition to its old established lace trade and railway wagon works, a variety of industries have come and gone over the years. Companies who made spring mattresses, upholstery, pencils, wire and cables, rubber and latex compounds, elastic, piano and piano actions, kitchen units, silks, art and artists accessories, motor car springing, hosiery, flexible tubing and bicycles etc.

This section is by no means exhaustive in any shape or form, but we have tried to include the most noted industries and companies that have provided work for the local inhabitants and people from the surrounding areas. Some of the most famous of Long Eaton's lace mills have been included in the list as they were built by different businessmen. For more information about lace making, see elsewhere on this site.

Bridge Mills
Built by F. Perks & Sons in 1902 to specifications by the architect John Sheldon. It was the last of the multi-storey tenement factories in the town. As this building is situated on the Derby Road canal bridge, the towering chimney is one of the focal points of the town.

Harrington Mills
In 1885 Poxon & Rice of Queen Street won the tender for the building of the first phase of the Harrington Mills in Leopold Street, opened in January 1887. The remainder of the building was completed by Wheatley & Maule shortly afterwards. The large factory was 550 feet long and contained over one million bricks. The semi circular turrets housed the staircases to the landings of the various lace manufacturers who occupied the building. There used to be a magnificent 'wheel room' which supplied mechanical power to all the lace machines via ceiling mounted transmission shafts, pulleys and leather belts.

Austin's Factory
John Austin started in a small way by employing four boys and two girls at a small workshop in Austin's Yard in 1851. In 1856 his brother Joseph, built a substantial lace factory near the existing premises in Austin's Yard. The new factory was four storeys high and was the first tenement factory to be built in the town. John was unable to fill it with his own machines, so he let other manufacturers rent the spare standings. The Austin business prospered and in about 1884 a much larger factory was built behind the original. The core of this factory still existed until quite recently and was known as Jones and Stroud Ltd., who were a major employer in the town for a number of years. The factory was demolished at the turn of the 21st century to make way for a new retail park.

Fletcher's Factory
The factory was built in 1873 on Peel Street. Unfortunately it was burnt down in 1890. Following the fire, a new factory was built called Trent Works. It was built and occupied by the Trent Bicycle Company, and many years later by Wallis and Longden, lace machine builders. That factory was demolished in 1985 and replaced by the new Wade Spring's Waverley Mills buildings which for now at least, occupy the site.

Orchard's Factory
Joseph Orchard was one of the early band of lace makers which were active in the town before 1841. He was born in Long Eaton about 1806. In 1830 his house was in Sawley Road, one of three cottages that occupied the site of the now old post office. The location of his first factory is uncertain, but he developed a site known as Orchard's Old Factory between the end of Bank Street and Chapel Street. His business developed slowly and in 1861 he employed only five men, four women and a girl. He died in 1862 and was buried in the Chapel burial ground in Union Street. The factory suffered a major fire in 1971.

Oaklea Mills
George Smith, another lace manufacturer, founded the company which built Oaklea Mills in 1902. He was born in 1850 and was the son of John Smith, a cordwainer who lived at the High Street end of Smith's Yard. When Joseph Orchard's Bank Street factory was opened in 1882, Smith moved in as a tenant until Oaklea Mills was ready. As well as chairman of the Oaklea Mill Company, Smith was a director of the Long Eaton Advertiser. He built a large house called Trentham at the end of Acton Road which after his death in 1923, became St Mary's Convent Girl's School.

Britannia Mills
Built in 1906 by William Wallis, later to become William Wallis and Sons they continued until the mid 1930s in Britannia Mills, Bennett Street. Enoch, one of the brothers, became Managing Director of the Britannia Mills factory until he started his own lace business in Nottingham just before the first world war. He continued to live in Long Eaton and was both a JP and an Alderman of the Derbyshire County Council.

West End Mills
Built on Leopold Street, backing onto the canal, this building was 350 feet long and four storeys high. Robert Fletcher of the Elms, on Derby Road was also successful in the lace industry, latterly in the West End Mills. In 1886, William Towle made bicycles in West End Mills, which shows how adaptable the buildings were.

Claye's Wagon Works
In 1850, Samuel Claye was a coal and coke merchant and railway wagon owner in Derby. The following year he moved to Long Eaton to manufacture his own rolling stock. He bought the Manor House with its farm buildings and a house and croft on the other side of the road. Within two years he had erected buildings on both sides of the road which housed the foundry, smithy, turning shop, engine, several sheds and an office. In 1854 he built another shed on the north side, and the pattern house above the brook which ran alongside. He also built a number of houses for his workers. By 1861 the works employed nearly 200 workers and as the firm expanded during the 1860s, over 1,300 wagons at a time were produced for the Midland Railway. The firm was mechanised during the 1880s, producing 1,000 wagons a year while dealing in coal, coke, ironstone and fireclay. They also leased wagons to other merchants. Before his death, Samuel built Belfield on Main Street, which later became Southlands Home for the elderly. Samuel Claye died in 1887 at the age of 68. After his death the firm became a limited company, and a new foundry and an electricity generating plant were built. In 1937 it was sold to a rival company, Charles Roberts of Wakefield. The 19th century buildings were demolished in the 1960s. At present the site is occupied by some industrial units and the Tapper's Harker public house.

Below is a short list of various other companies who operated in the town.

  • Supertone Pianos Ltd., based on New Tythe Street, originally founded in Leicester in 1903.
  • Midland Flexible Tubing, operated in 1922.
  • Messrs. W. H. Carter, hosiery manufacturers, Oaklea Mills. Operated in New tythe Street for over five years previous to moving to Oaklea Mills.
  • Vida Mills, Jones Stroud and Co. Ltd., elastic manufacturers. Originally based at Austin's factory, moved to new factory in 1929.
  • Messrs. Wallis & co. Ltd., Nottingham Road, pressed steel makers, 1923.
  • Everest Upholstery Ltd., Canal Street Mills, 1924.
  • Messrs. Clutsom & Kemp Ltd., elastic webb manufacturers, Birchwood Mills. Commenced at Coalville in 1915, moved to Long Eaton 1924.
  • Anglo Pencil Co. Ltd., Acton Road.
  • Mackenzie Hosiery Co. Ltd., Oakland Avenue, 1928.
  • Trent Valley Hosiery Company, Bennett Street, 1931.
  • Byard Manufacturing Co. Ltd., manufactured hairnets.
  • Strodex Corset Co. Ltd., Fletcher Street.
Information courtesy of "The Book Of Long Eaton" By Mr Keith Reedman and "Sketches Of Long Eaton & District" By Arthur Hooper, kindly suppled by Mrs E. Stevenson of Castle Donington.

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