Thomas Chadwick


Thomas Chadwick
Thomas Chadwick

Thomas Chadwick was born in humble circumstances and in early childhood, between his sixth and seventh years, he was an orphan, having been deprived of both parents. In this sad emergency he was taken charge of by an uncle and aunt and by them brought up, receiving such an elementary education as boys of his class at that period were in the habit of receiving. When old enough to do something for his own living he went to Platts' Works, which were then showing signs of healthy development and afterwards he was bound apprentice to learn the art and mystery of a mechanic.


Mr. Chadwick entered the business of sewing machine manufacturing in 1860, along with a few others, in a small way at Werneth, they having previously been engaged by a local firm in the making of sewing machines. He soon discovered they had but little knowledge of the trade which they had entered into. He at once took steps to disengage himself from them. He did by purchasing the shares of each partner respectively till he was left alone. He took in partnership Mr. William Jones and it was agreed to leave Oldham and establish themselves  at Ashton-under-Lyne, in the name of Chadwick and Jones. In Ashton-under-Lyne, they were residing at 157 Margaret Street, living together with other people as  lodgers. The two entrepreneurs Masters Machinist were employing 4 men and 5 boys. That partnership came to an end and in January 1864 he joined the late Mr. George Bradbury as partner in his works, which were then carried on at Rhodes Bank. Previous to that time the works were located in a cottage house at Primrose Bank, where the then firm was carried on under the title of Bradbury, Sugden, & Firth ; but the business increasing, the firm had to migrate to Rhodes Bank.

Thomas Chadwick worked ten years as a private employer along with the late Mr. Bradbury. 

In 1874, he was appointed  as managing director of the company a position that has been held for the next 12 years.

In 1884 he was seized with a stroke and since that time he has never recovered and in the last year of his life, he has absented himself from the Wellington Sewing Machine Works.

In 1885 a presentation was made at Oldham to Alderman Chadwick by the employes of Messrs. Bradbury and Co. Limited, to testify their gratitude at his recovery from a protracted illness and as a token of the high respect and esteem in which he  has ever been held by them during the twenty-one years he had been connected with the firm.      

In a speech he made addressing those present, he remembered them the time since he first entered the business of sewing machine in 1860. He said:


About this period the trade was beset with great difficulties, in consequence of legal proceeding by rival patentees. During that or the following year all persons known to be either making, selling or using sewing machines in Great Britain were served with " writs of injunction", pending the decisions in the law court of the various actions which were then going on. After these trials things settled down and business began to grow in this and other countries. The first establishment for the making of sewing machines in Europe was started in an outhouse or small cottage at Primrose Bank, in Oldham, by our old and esteemed friend Mr. Sudgen in partnership with his brother Frederick and the late Mr. Bradbury. They have, therefore, earned for Oldham the distinction of being the birthplace of sewing machine industry in this country and Europe.


1886 Mr. Chadwick death. He was an alderman and was much respected by the other members of the Oldham Town Council. He was a Liberal in polities and a Nonconformist in religion. A widow and two sons mourn his loss. At the funeral there were numerous signs of sympathy with the bereaved. Flags were displayed half-mast high the municipal and other buildings. It was desired that the funeral should be of a private character, and therefore no members of public bodies were present. Among the mourners were a number of members of the firm. The hear e was drawn by two horses, before which walked a number of old workmen. Fight of the foremen acted as carriers. Among those who followed were: Messrs. J. S. Buckley, John Clegg, W. Cunliffe, (Depot Supt.) W. Chadwick (son), T. Chadwick (son), F. Hall, W. H. Phillips (chief clerk), T. Sugden, J. Schofield, J. Taylor, J. Wrigley, (Work, Manager), W. Wrigley, T. 'Whitehead, and T. S. Walmsley (Secretary). The representatives of the men were the following: Messrs. F. L. Blake, H. Benson, J. Lumley, S. Scholes, C. Shaw, T. Simpson, A. Thorpe, and W. Tattersall. A number of other workmen walked in the procession. A magnificent wreath, accompanied by a letter of condolence, was presented by Mr. T. Sugden on behalf of the 600 hands employed at the works. The deceased was buried in Chadderton Cemetery.


His name appears on many of the patent applications.


GB 2.609       George Francis Bradbury & Thomas Chadwick


of the firm of Bradbury & Co., Oldham, in the county of Lancaster. Sewing Machine Manufacturers, for the invention of improvements in or applicable, to sewing machines.

September 16, 1867





Grace's Guide to British Industrial History

Sewing Machine Gazette