Is it to be another mill — No. 5 — for the Slaithwaite Company, the directors and managers of which deserve well of the town for their determined efforts to promote the interests of the place, and of this company in particular; indeed, the progress of the two has been most remarkable and most beneficial to the district. No. 1 was a most terrible effort, and the battle of success was only achieved by determined effort and action. No. 2 was a much easier strain, because the first had done so well, and in this way materially helped the second, though all was not plain sailing. There were the faint-hearted, and the week-kneed, and the doubters, who had no faith, some of whom took their money out; others foolishly sold when they could get out without loss, and this had a wet-blanketing effect on the shares, but still they were held, and constantly went up in value, and this was the best answer to the then detractors.
Still, all was not a bed of roses. The engine of No. 1 broke down very badly, various repairs had to be made, which happily proved effective, and this considerably relieved the directors, who had not only this and other troubles to go through, but there was the loss by death of some of the most able promoters. This sorrowfully steadied the staunch team which was left, but like good cricketers they kept up their ends, and scored all round the wicket, such a handsome score that under an able captain, they have kept pegging away ever since, with the professional (F. Varley), who can both bat and ball.
In this way No. 3 mill came, and not long ago No. 4, but it is much easier to write this than it has been to accomplish. Many of these men are older, their young lives have been spent, their pulses do not beat so strong or their hopes run so high as in the young halcyon days of their ardent, hopeful, and confident youth. Still, there is no flagging, no hanging back; forward is the command, and every man shoulders his rifle to the music of the march of Progress. In the olden days they were cheered at times by the speeches made at the starting of an engine. Such a time was when the late Mr. G. Mallinson told them “to be diligent in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” This was much better than the scant respect which a few have of those in authority to-day; so much so that some of the ratepayers are indignant, and in passing through Slaithwaite you can hear the remark: “Yes; they have by their folly driven out No. 5, which will be the biggest new mill, into Golcar, which township will have the benefit of a largely increased rate and the non-reliability of any roads.” These latter become the legacy of Slaithwaite, which authority would not take over a reasonable road which had been well provided.
The Board have too much hard and responsible work to do to take any notice of this idle gossip. A road here or there will have no influence whatever on their action, and when they build No. 5 it will be on their own land, and most suitable for the purpose, and best adapted for the work. These things alone, no doubt, will commend themselves to the directors, who, if they were in France, would be deemed worthy citizens of the country for promoting its prosperity — at home they must be content with less things, satisfied that in their day and generation they have done something for the district in which they lived, and towards bettering the condition of the people, and of making life more happy in a valley that was once as stagnant as it is now prosperous. This project is not yet undertaken.
Slaithwaite Notes: Past and Present (1905) by John Sugden