Frank Leeming – Machine Maker
The business started when brothers Samuel and John Leeming went into partnership with Samuel Tindall to form a machine making company in 1807. The partnership continued until 22nd November 1816 when the partnership was dissolved.
The 1829 Pigot’s Directory reveals that Samuel and John Leeming had continued the machine making business at Canal Side.
By 1838 Samuel had left the business and the company name had changed to John Leeming & Son.
In 1851 John and Elizabeth Leeming both aged 61 were at 2 Manor Street, Eccleshill, with John a Master machine maker employing 66 men and 21 boys, and eldest son James aged 38, a machine maker, and partner with his father. Then two daughters and John Jnr aged 22, Worsted Spinner, with a separate business (he was one of a firm of two), employing 15 men, 51 girls and 44 boys. They had a House Servant.
John Leeming Snr died in 1854; the business passed to his eldest son James. The company was still known as John Leeming & Son.
The 1856 Lund’s Directory includes John Leeming & Son, Machine Makers at North Holme Mill.
In 1861 James Leeming 48 and unmarried, Master Worsted Machine Maker, employing 35 men & 27 boys and also an Iron Founder employing 2 men & 13 boys, was living at 1 Manor Street, Eccleshill, with his widowed mother, her daughter and grand-daughter, all three fundholders, and a General Servant.
In 1871, James Leeming aged 57 was living at Thorn Hill, Manningham, Master Machine Maker, employing 34 men and 10 boys. His brother John Leeming Jnr was at 1 Mount Royd, Manningham, aged 40, a Machine Maker, with his wife Amelia and sons John A Leeming and Frank Leeming both aged 15, b. Apr-Jun 1856 in Bradford, both scholars. John and Amelia also had 3 other sons and 4 daughters. The household was looked after by a Cook, Housemaid and a Nurse.
Frank began work with the family business of Messrs. Leeming, Power Loom Manufacturers of Bradford, and then went to work for George Hodgson & Sons in Frizinghall who were also machines makers.
After Hodgson’s Frank went to work for George Hattersley & Sons Ltd. of Keighley as Manager. He registered at least two US patents under Hattersley’s name, his name as well as a man named Charles Hudson.
James Leeming died on 20 November 1873, age 61, and buried in Ilkley on 26 November. As there were no children, the business passed to his younger brother John. John Leeming, John Arthur Leeming and Frank Leeming were trading as John Leeming & Son, machine makers.
On 1 October 1877 Frank Leeming’s Complete Patent Specifications were accepted for improvements in apparatus for operating the rising and falling shuttle-boxes and controlling the picking mechanism of power looms. [Not yet at the Patents Sealed stage]. People who wished to take out patents for their improved designs would have to submit a detailed description and engineering drawing to explain exactly how it worked.
In 1881 at Kirklands, Baildon, Bradford was John Leeming, Master Machine Maker of Looms employing 50 men and 10 boys, with his wife Amelia, John Arthur and Frank, both Machine Makers sons. They had a Cook & Housemaid.
On the 31 March 1882 Frank Leeming and Robert Williamson were granted Provisional Protection for 6 months on their patent for improvements in looms for weaving.
On 5 December 1884 Frank Leeming Letters Patent for improvements in shedding motions and in box motions and in picking motions of looms for weaving was Sealed – No. 15.326.
On 17 December 1886 Frank Leeming applied for Letters Patent for improvement in apparatus for operating the rising and falling shuttle-boxes and controlling the picking motion of looms for weaving.
On 28 January 1887 Frank Leeming and Robert Wilkinson made a patent application for improvements in apparatus for letting off the warp in looms.
In 1888 the Partnership was dissolved. Frank Leeming carried on the business on his own.
The 3rd Generation – The era of Frank Leeming
The sons may have struggled without their father and the business was given up shortly afterwards in 1890.
Also, in Jul-Sep 1890, Frank Leeming married Janet Priestman in Bradford. She was born on 18 April 1863 in Bradford.
In 1891 at North Dale Road, Heaton, Bradford, was Frank Leeming, Machine Makers Manager, his new wife Janet and a General Domestic Servant.
On 28 April 1892 Fred and Janet’s baby Joyce was born in Bradford.
Frank registered a patent in 1894 in his name and in the name of George Hodgson’s for improvements in and connection with drop box motions in looms.
On 19 December 1895 a new Coffee Tavern was opened. Erected by the Coffee Tavern Company at a cost of £1,200, this tavern was opened by the mayor at the junction of School Street, Leeming Street and Valley Road. It was the 33rd house opened by the company. Capable of accommodating 50 or 60 people, it had a lady’s room above, and a very attractive appearance. Intended for the Midland Railway employees and workmen at the gasworks and mills. Frank Leeming and the Chairman of the Coffee Tavern Co. attended the ceremony.
Fred and Janet’s son Fred Rupert was born Apr-June 1899 in Bradford.
In 1901 they were living at 15 Farcliffe Road, Farcliffe Terrace, Bradford, Frank a Manager of Power Loom Maker, his wife Janet and their daughter Joyce 8 and son Frank Rupert 2, with 2 Domestic Servants. The following year Fred & Janet had another daughter Dorothy Juliet born Jan-Mar 1902 in Bradford.
John Leeming Jnr died aged 72 in 1902. He had lived at Moorhead for 21 years. He retired from the business 14 years earlier when it passed to his sons John Arthur Leeming and Frank.
In 1911 Frank and Janet were at the same address, he a Traveller for a firm of textiles, with their daughter Joyce and son Frank Rupert, a Scholar, and daughter Dorothy Juliet 9 attending school. They had a Cook and a Nurse.
He was the Yorkshire representative for the British Northrop Loom Co Ltd. who were quite a big concern. Established in 1902 to build textile looms designed by J H Northrop who had been born in Keighley but had gone to work in the United States. By 1950 the company employed 3000 workers and were manufacturing 10,000 looms a year. The machines were exported across the globe and this had a huge impact on third world economies.
The Northrop automatic loom was a revolutionary machine. It used a rotating magazine to keep the shuttle constantly supplied with cotton thread and could be run for 24 hours a day. It changed the work of the weaver, instead of loom operators operating eight machines, with this machine they could operate 16 looms each, which meant they only needed half the number of operators. Over 700,000 of Northrop’s automatic looms were sold worldwide. It was most popular in the USA where it had 40% of the market. In the UK where wages were lower the Northrop loom only had 2% of the market. Frank’s Rotary Dobby was fitted to the Northrup automatic looms.
Frank worked for Northrup’s for 11 years until he retired.
Frank also registered several other patents in his own name from 1914 to 1921; patented many of his inventions to do with weaving e.g., the Loom-Dobby.
By 1921 Frank and Janet had moved to Ashtofts in Oxford Road, Guiseley, near Leeds. Frank was a Traveller for the British Northrop Loom Co. Ltd., Blackburn, and his Place of Work was Yorkshire, his ‘Area’. Janet was on Home Duties with her eldest daughter Joyce. Their son Frank Rupert was an Engineering Student and their youngest daughter Dorothy Juliet a Scholarship Student. They had a widow of Leeds as a Housekeeper with her British born 11-year-old daughter from Johannesburg, South Africa, a Scholar.
On the 9 April 1925 the Prince of Wales Lodge of Freemasons was represented by many masons, one of which was Frank Leeming, at the funeral service at Bradford Cathedral and internment at Nab Wood Cemetery for Mr. Earnest H. Gates, MD of Salt’s (Saltaire) Ltd.
Frank Leeming, Inventor, died on 10 May 1937, age 81, at 29 Granville Road, Frizinghall, and is the last of the Leemings to be buried in the Leeming grave at Undercliffe Cemetery on the 13 May. Probate on 5 July in London was granted to his children Joyce, spinster, Frank Rupert, Engineering Manager, and Dorothy Juliet, spinster. Effects: £887 2s. 11d. [Almost £48,000 in today’s money] His hobbies were: chess (he was a member of the Bradford Chess Club), and golf (a life member of the Bradford Golf Club).
In 1939 living at 8 Carmona Gardens, Shipley was Janet Leeming, widow, with her single daughter Joyce, both undertaking Unpaid Domestic Duties.
Janet Leeming née Priestley, Frank Leeming’s widowed wife, died on 7 August 1944 of the ripe age of 81 at 8 Carmona Gardens, Frizinghall, Shipley, Bradford. Probate on 16 September in Llandudno, North Wales, was granted to his children Joyce, spinster, Frank Rupert, Engineering Works Manager, and Dorothy Juliet, spinster. Effects: £815 1s. 8d.
Research by David Broomfield & Steve Lightfoot – March 2023