When they weren’t making carpets

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T.F.Firth’s was well known throughout most parts of the world for its quality Axminsters, Wiltons and tufted carpets.

In the early 1950s the company was producing carpets for the United Nations building in New York as well as for aeroplanes and some of the big casinos of Las Vegas.

Looking back it is hard to imagine that it was 11 years ago in December of 2000 that Firth’s Clifton Mills at Bailiff Bridge was sold and a year later the Victoria Mill was put up for sale.

With another year work began in demolishing the vast mill complex that had dominated and been the work place for generations of local people. It was even rumoured that the demolished materials raised almost as much money as the cost to buy the complex in the first place, and that was before the site had a house built and sold on it.

By 2006 all that remained was the old company showroom and offices which had been there since 1909.

Whilst ex-employees will look back with many happy memories of their time at the mill, where lifelong friendships were made and many would meet their future wives, husbands and partners.

The mill was not just a work place but it also provided many social activities as well, the annual Christmas dance, children’s parties and the many clubs that were formed.

The annual workshop football matches, cricket matches and one that few will remember the tennis club that was on Birkhouse Road which is often still referred to as Coronation Terrace in the fields next to the Clifton and Lightcliffe band room and bowling green.

In this week’s featured photograph we have members of the T.F.Firth’s Archery Club – I have no doubt that many will remember seeing the members practising on the field on Victoria Road behind what in the 1960s was the School kitchens where many a school dinner was made and then delivered to many schools in the borough.

Looking at this photograph I think it would be fair to say that most of the members were caught off guard. The two ladies on the front row are clearly not ready or perhaps had second thoughts – thinking ‘Oh no, what do I look it…’or possibly like many people just do not like their photographs taking.

But what happened to the archery club once the field went? – The Yorkshire Archery Association has 50 clubs in its membership which includes many with junior sections. The Association’s website www.yorkshirearchery.co.uk gives a fascinating insight to this activity and if you are interested in knowing more about it and how to get involved the website is a good starting point.