Extract from Discovering Old Huddersfield (1993-2002) by Gordon & Enid Minter:
Immediately beyond the railway bridge and before Yew Green Road, the factory on the left, now part of Brown Corporation P.L.C., was once the premises of William Whiteley & Sons Ltd., manufacturers of textile machinery. William Whiteley founded his business in 1850 and such was the demand at that time for new machinery that by 1890 the factory had spread to cover three acres and the workforce numbered four hundred. Goods were moved from the factory by rail from the firm's private railway siding. Towards the end of the nineteenth century the Whiteley family's home, Park Cottage, was bought by the Brown family and, eventually, the factory also passed into their hands.
David Brown's large factory in Park Road is part of the success storyof a company which, although founded in a very small way, expanded to employ some ten thousand workers in no fewer than fourteen factories. The story begins with David Brown who in 1860, at the age of seventeen, began making patterns for gears in partnership with Thomas Broadbent. Four years later, Brown moved to premises in East Parade, Huddersfield and began to manufacture his own gears. The business was slow to grow and as late as 1890 when, for example, William Whiteley was employing four hundred workers, Brown employed only ten including himself and his three sons. Towards the end of the century, when the business at last began to prosper, the Brown family moved to Park Cottage at Lockwood and soon built a small factory nearby. In 1902, a year after the death of the founder, the gear cutting business was moved from East Parade to the new Park Works. During the First World War business expanded rapidly and by 1921, when David Brown II, the grandson of the founder, entered the firm, there were about a thousand employees.
The Company managed to survive the Depression of the 1920s and 30s and, in 1939, started producing tractors at a factory at Meltham. Further expansion came during the Second World War with the various factories working flat out to produce badly needed parts for tanks, ships and aeroplanes. After the war, David Brown ventured into sports car production and soon his Aston Martin and Lagonda cars were entering and sometimes winning international road races. Browns reached their peak in the 1960s when, as well as their fourteen factories in Great Britain, they owned or were associated with another seventeen around the world.
The story of David Browns is a long and complicated one and we have space to give only a very brief outline. Should any of our readers wish to know more they will find a much more detailed account in Brian Clarke's book, "The History of Lockwood and North Crosland".