Harold Taylor Collection

"The Redbrook Works used to make tea towels or glass cloths for the Royal Palaces as a regular order at the Redbrook mill every year from 1930 to 1939." Harold Taylor, 1993 describing the quality of the linen work in Barnsley

"...almost without exception linen weavers worked in basements. And I think the reason was that so much water had to be used and splashed about to keep the linen from snapping that you had to have it in a basement." Harold Taylor, 1993 explaining the layout of weaver's cottages.

"There were certain periods when we were going in and out of the line. You couldn’t stay in the communication trenches, there’d probably be two feet of mud and you had waders on up to your thighs really. I remember in one instance I got stuck in there and I’d got out of it and left [my] boot and wandered out on top in stocking feet. You hadn’t your normal boots [they] were back at the digs." Thomas Ramsden describing conditions in the trenches in France during World War One.

Harold Taylor looking down at a book with map cabinet in background

Harold Taylor in Barnsley Archives and Local Studies


Harold Taylor was a local historian with a particular interest in the former linen industry in Barnsley. The sound recordings in the collection include a talk on the subject given as part of the Industrial Heritage Year in 1993. Harold comments that the Barnsley linen industry is little known despite the impact it had on the area. Barnsley had a very good reputation in the 1800s for producing noted good quality linen goods, even supplying to the Royal Palaces (Redbrook Works). He suggests the reason for the lack of knowledge is that buildings associated with the industry have been demolished. However, weavers' cottages can still be seen in many of the local villages.

He also recorded an interview with his father-in-law, Thomas Pickering Ramsden, a former soldier during the First World War, who had worked as an architect in Barnsley prior to enlisting. He recalls some of the training he received in camps in the south of England as part of the Royal Engineers, before being sent to France. He describes the conditions that soldiers faced in the trenches (including food rations and lack of washing facilities) and some of the different places he was based. 

Search the collections

The full catalogue for the collection which features further materials on the linen industry, including Harold Taylor's thesis and photographs is available to browse on our online catalogue.

Transcript of 1993 talk on the linen industry in Barnsley (A-964-F/2/2)

(HTM, 120 KB)

- This transcription is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

Download file - Transcript of 1993 talk on the linen industry in Barnsley (A-964-F/2/2)

Transcript of 1986 interview with Thomas Pickering Ramsden, WWI veteran (A-964-F/2/3)

(HTM, 200 KB)

- this transcription is licensed under Creative Commons attribution 4.0 international license creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

Download file - Transcript of 1986 interview with Thomas Pickering Ramsden, WWI veteran (A-964-F/2/3)