J Blakeborough & Sons Ltd, at one time I don’t think there was a person in Brighouse who did not know someone who worked at this world famous Valve makers, J (Joseph) Blakeborough & Sons Ltd was how we all remember this Company who at one time employed over 2,000 workers, but from an early beginning Joseph Blakeborough was born in Pateley Bridge Nr Harrogate North Yorkshire in 1817.
You could say the flow of water was not just in his veins but in the whole of the Blakeborough family, as Joseph became a plumber and had seven children (5 boys and 2 girls)before opening a plumbing supply shop in nearby Otley, his son Robert helped his farther and in 1855 Joseph moved his plumbing supply business to Brighouse where his son Robert came to help in the business as well as starting designing and making an assortment of water valves and brass fittings with a small furnace in the shops cellar, with their increasing trade they bought some larger premises and with the help of all five sons they developed the business to a new level.
Moving to a new larger premieres the sons got involved in to management to help this factory grow to become a formidable labour employment company in Brighouse, they also registered the name ‘J. Blakeborough & Sons’ they also came to be strongly involved in manufacturing and supplying water and sewer fittings, the company went from strength to strength and in 1866 bought out a Brighouse foundry company which became an additional company that was going to help their business to the next level as the water supply was constantly growing to keep up with an increasing market for larger water and sewerage demand, in 1874 Blakeborough’s was now capable of manufacturing a 24” slice valve which was the largest valve at the time.
In 1875 Blakeborough’s was now at full production so acquired the Woodhouse site to expand their business, in 1886 Joseph the founder of Blakeborough’s passed away at the age of 68, his sons managed the firm and continued with its growth, by 1900 the company was employing around 200 people at their Brighouse site and continued to grow with Robert and his brothers until in 1912 when Robert Died.
During the First World War the company got involved in manufacturing specialised parts for Ships, Submarines along with other war efforts, the company now employing around 500 people, then following the end of the war they were constantly increasing their products and by 1917 made the J. Blakeborough’s a Limited company, they started to produce some valves under licence including the large Larner Johnson valves these large valves were used for reservoirs and were capable of controlling very large volumes of water very quickly.
The next generations of the Blakeborough family were brought in to finally take over the business and constantly expanding their range of products to include Fire Hydrants, Cover Grates, Manhole Covers along with other new products to compliment their ever growing range, later the fire fighting products were moved to nearby Elland at their Nu-swift fire extinguisher company which is still in production today.
Expansion continues and at one time the company organised a trip to Blackpool, which was organised by Walter Blakeborourgh for 2,000 of their employees and relatives which was two specially charted and decorated trains form Brighouse Station to Blackpool. In 1928 Blakeborough’s was registered as a Public Limited Company.(although at one time Blakeborough’s even had their own trains and trucks to carry their goods all over).
In 1965 J. Blakeborough & Sons PLC. was acquired by Hopkinson’s of Huddersfield to become a member of the Hopkinson Holdings Group this eventually led to the demise of J. Blakeborough & Son’s in Brighouse finally closing their Woodhouse site in 1989 also just after this the Hopkinson Holding Group was acquired by The Weir Group PLC which now included Blakeborough’s.
Ironically both Blakeborough and Hopkinson names are still used in Weir Valves & Controls UK Limited portfolio and production.