Saturday, 4 May 2019

Benjamin Flounders and the Crathorne Bleach Yard, 1743

This notice – really it's an advertisement – in a Newcastle newspaper of 1743, casts an interesting light on the scope of the operation run by Benjamin Flounders (1708-56), who had a Bleach Yard at Crathorne in the first half of the 18th century.

His surname appears in this advertisement as Flounder, but it is clearly a typo.  The notices continue in the Newcastle Courant until we find, on 3 April 1756, a few weeks after his death, that his widow Barbara is now carrying on the business in his place.  By 1765 the notices appear under the name of their son, John.

The family were Quakers. Benjamin and Barbara were the grandparents of the prominent Yarm businessman and pioneer of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, Benjamin Flounders (1768-1846).

We can see that Benjamin Flounders in 1743 has a network of collection points across County Durham and the North Riding.  I assume the handloom weavers, who worked from weaving sheds at home, would have their cloth bleached so as to be able to profit themselves from the higher price that it would then fetch. 

The square brackets indicate where I have added letters or given the modern spelling of names and places, to assist people searching online.  (You can see that Staithes was spelled phonetically)

Newcastle Courant, 26 March 1743
of CRATHORNE, near YARM, hereby gives Notice, 
THAT he continues the BLEACHING OF LINEN CLOTH this Year as usual, to great Perfection.  His Prices are, as formerly, Yard-wide high white at Twopence Halfpenny per Yard, and so in proportion for broader or narrower, and Superfine Cloth at Threepence, which will be taken in at the following Places, viz.  
By Geo. Flower, Grocer, in Sunderland; Barnard Sheal, at the Dun Cow, in the Market-place, Durham; Sam. Dalkin, Roper, in Sedgefield; Mary Ward, Weaver, in Whitby; Rich. Taylor, at Steaths [Staithes]; Rich. Outhard, Weaver, in Guisborough; Joseph Flounder, Butcher, in Northallerton; Anthony Lidster, Dyer, near Bedale; Simon Bickerdike, Dyer, at Laburn [Leyburn]; Robt Hodgshon [Hodgson]. in Darlington; William Bird, Taylor, in Bishop Auckland; Jonathan Wheatley, Dyer, at Staindrop; Wm Hall, Tanner, in Barnardcastle; John Gill, Weaver, in Sockfield; Thomas Allison, in Chester-le-street; and at his own Shops at Stockton, Stoxley [Stokesley] and Yarm.  All Persons may depend on having their Cloth kept strong, and with a good Colour.  Mr Gabriel Hughes, Merchant, at Yarm, with himself, will be accountable for all the Cloth that comes to the above Peoples Hands. 
N.B.  He has made a great many Conveniences in his Yard, so that his Friends may expect to have their Cloth as well done as at Durham, or elsewhere.