The Jewish Contribution to the British Textile Industry “BUILDERS OF BRADFORD”

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THE title of the paper which I am going to read to you is "Jewish Contributions to the British Textile Industry." The sub-title is "Builders of Bradford" as it deals almost exclusively with the development of the Bradford Textile Industry. You will hear the expression "piece goods" or "pieces" which to people not connected with the Textile business may sound somewhat strange. For their benefit I should like to explain that a "piece" in the Bradford area is generally a length of worsted cloth about sixty yards long and fifty-four to sixty inches wide, doubled up edge to edge lengthways and then rolled or cuttled for convenient handling and packing. I should like also to explain briefly the meaning of "shorts" and "damages" as used in this paper. When the pieces arrive from the mill at the merchant's or shipper's warehouse each piece is remeasured and "perched" or examined for faulty places or damages. When the account for goods supplied is paid to the cloth-manufacturer, deductions are made for any short measure or damage. Some shippers were rather too exacting in their examinations.

With these preliminary remarks we can now proceed to the subject matter.

The City of Bradford in Yorkshire is known throughout the world as the centre of the wool textile industry. Its greatest development as such took place in the second half of last century, when numbers of immigrants, for the most part German Jews, settled there and engaged in an intensive and extensive export trade of textile goods manufactured in Bradford and the surrounding district. The pioneer and principal of all these immigrant merchants was Sir Jacob Behrens who came to Yorkshire in 1832 from Hamburg where his family was established in the textile business.

In 1934 when the firm of Sir Jacob Behrens and Sons Ltd., celebrated its centenary, the Bradford newspapers printed special supplements giving the story of the growth of the firm which is closely bound up with the growth of Bradford as a wool textile centre. Here is an extract from the Yorkshire Observer Centenary Supplement of December 6th, 1934.

Spice of Adventure. There is another and perhaps still more fascinating side to the romance of the foundation of the textile industry. This was the spice of adventure introduced by the men who afterwards became the merchant princes of Bradford. They were men who mostly came from Germany and the states of Central Europe. Their great forte was not a technical one. They knew very little about the manufacturing side of the industry, but they allied their powers as salesmen to the prowess of their Yorkshire colleagues as craftsmen and between the two of them Bradford captured the markets of the world.

These newcomers to Bradford soon built large many-storied warehouses where tens of thousands of textile pieces were delivered every week from the ever-increasing number of Bradford mills. The district where those warehouses were located (mainly in Peckover Street and Vicar Lane area) came to be known locally as "little Germany." There the pieces were examined,

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