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Grant Brothers

Early Life

William Grant married Grace McKenzie in February 1767.

They were tenant farmers in Speyside, Scotland.

Seven of their 8 children were born in Scotland, James(1768), William(1769),  Elizabeth(1773), John(1775), Mary( 1777), Isabella(1780) and Daniel(1782).

Grace and the older children looked after the farm. Mrs Grant proving to be a very resourceful and determined lady.

William Snr. set up business as a part-time cattle dealer to help with the family finances.

Several bad winters and poor harvests left the family facing famine, poverty and debt.

In 1783 the whole family set off South to find employment in the cotton mills of Lancashire.

After a 300 mile trek they stopped on the Park Estate, overlooking Ramsbottom. When William Snr. saw the valley below with the River Irwell flowing through it he said it reminded him of Speyside, except that the Irwell was not as large as the River Spey!  They had no food or money left, they prayed to God and settled down for the night.

In the morning two gentlemen, out shooting, noticed them and on hearing their story gave them two sovereigns. With money to find food and shelter they set off to find work.

Birth of a business

James Dinwiddie, a fellow Scot and owner of Hampson Mill in Bury, gave James and William Jnr. jobs and helped the family to find a cottage at Hampson Bank. Later he also employed Elizabeth and John.

William Snr. became an itinerant seller of small goods especially “fents”. He sold his wares at factory gates and round the public houses.

One stormy day in November 1784 eight year old Mary set off for work at Hinds Mill on the other side of the River Irwell, but never arrived, her body was found some days later on the banks of the river. She is buried in Bank Street cemetery, Bury.

Charles was born in 1788, their eighth and last child.

By now the older boys were bleaching and printing cloth, in their spare time, (with the blessing of James Dinwiddie) for their fathers business.

James left Bury, returned to Glasgow and set up his own textile business.

Daniel began his training at Hampson Mill

William Jnr. set up a family business in a modest shop in Bolton Street selling linen, woollens, checked and printed material. He travelled all over the North of England selling and promoting textiles. As the business prospered they moved again to bigger and more spacious premises in the centre of Bury.

Later Life

In 1800 William Jnr. John and Daniel set up in business as William Grant and Brothers, Calico Printers and moved to premises in Manchester. They were later joined by Charles.

Daniel became the firm’s commercial traveller, taking samples all over the North of England and to all the major market towns of Scotland.

In 1806 William Jnr. and Elizabeth travelled back to Speyside to settle the debts the family had left behind in 1783. In the years that followed many gifts including money to help enterprising friends to set up in business and educate children was sent North. After the great floods of 1829 when many houses were swept away the Grants’ sent £100 to help rebuild.

Also in 1806, back in Ramsbottom, they purchased the “Old Ground” printing works and estate from Sir Robert Peel, father of the famous Prime Minister. They had watched workmen build the factory in the valley so admired by their father in 1783. Sir Robert Peel had been drawn to the valley and its ample supply of clear spring water to set up a dozen buildings to house what was then a modern, complex fabric printing process.

In 1812 the Grants purchased the Nuttall Spinning factory. They ordered new machinery, extended the building and provided new clothing for the employees.

William was a model executive who had a good grasp of the whole business, who was able to motivate and manage the workers.

John maintained the upkeep of all the buildings.

Charles oversaw the modernisation of the whole printing process. He devised and built “The Square” to replace Peel’s rambling mill. It stood 3 storeys high and was said to be the most modern calico factory in Europe!

Daniel had the vision and the drive to pursue the export of their goods overseas.

Their wealth enabled them to buy properties such as Blackley Hall and Springside.

William Snr. and Grace lived at Grant Lodge in Ramsbottom.

Elizabeth died in 1808, William Snr. in 1817 and Grace in 1821 all laid to rest in Bank Street cemetery with Mary.

In 1827 the brothers bought Park Estate and built Grant’s Tower to commemorate their father’s arrival in the valley.

In 1834 St Andrews Church was completed, built at a cost of £5000, following the wishes of William Snr. and Grace.

William Jnr. died in 1842 and Daniel died in 1855.

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