Dominion’s rise and fall

ONE of the most successful companies in Hipperholme was one everyone simply referred to as ‘The Dominion’.

Friday, 13th January 2012, 8:42 am

Sadly this once thriving and profitable company faded into the annals of local history in the mid 1980s.

Here was a company which in its heyday was employing over 250 people, all mainly from the local area. It was a financially secure business with 75 per cent of its output being exported overseas. But what happened to such a successful company - and a company that many local people still have happy memories of?

Herman Laycock was a conscientious hard working man and someone who was well respected in his community in Halifax. In his younger days he was a grave digger and worked on a barrow in the market. He and his family were members of the Fairfield Primitive Methodist Church on Queens Road.

It was as a member of the congregation that he came into contact with some of the most influential businessmen in Halifax, which included members of the Mackintosh family and many of their business friends.

A group of these men were invited to buy the selling rights of a woodworking machine that was manufactured in Canada. This was a sound investment but to act as the manufacturer’s UK agents they needed a manager. The group decided to look no further than the young Herman Laycock.

With everything in place they needed to create a new company and it needed a new name. With the machines being manufactured in Canada, a Dominion country, it seemed appropriate to use that as the company name and so it became The Dominion Machinery Co Ltd.

By the 1930s the company was attending all the major engineering exhibitions - in 1937 the company was at the British Industries Fair and exhibiting woodworking machines, Band Saws, Tenoning Machines, Mortisers, Spindle Moulders, Sanding Machines, Dovetailer’s Saw Benches, Surfacers and Thicknessers.

With the success of the company, Dominion bought the Canadian patents and manufacturing rights and a new company owned and managed by a Mr Womersley and Mr Broadbent was formed on the same site - the two companies to work together. 

Inevitably with two separate companies manufacturing and marketing their woodworking machines, problems soon followed and well into the 1960’s, Womersley and Broadbent became insolvent and Dominion took over the ailing manufacturing wing.

Dominion proved to be very successful with almost 80 per cent of its output being exported. 

This export led boom was successfully led by the major shareholder David Waithman - Herbert Laycock’s grandson.

But in 1985 the company was sold to three individuals due to David having serious health problems and when well enough David was retained as a consultant, it was later sold to Thomas Robinson plc.

Three years later, David reluctantly stepped down and the company closed.