Messrs. GEO BLACKBURN & SONS, Limited,

Manufacturers of Hosiery Machinery, Atlas Works, Kirke White Street, NOTTINGHAM.

THERE are few names more closely identified with recent industrial developments of Nottingham's staple manufactures than that borne by the firm of Messrs. Blackburn and Sons, Limited, who for nearly half a century past have taken an active share in improving the machinery and appliances by which the hosiery trade of the city has achieved its present flourishing eminence in the markets of the world. Briefly told, the early history of the firm may be thus summarised:—The founder, the late Mr. Edwin Attenborough, after serving in an important capacity in the works of Messrs. Piatt, Brothers and Co., of Oldham, returned to Nottingham, his native town, and in conjunction with Mr. Blackburn established the business which furnishes the subject of our present notice. Possessing a thoroughly technical and practical knowledge of every branch of mechanical engineering, the partners made steady and progressive advance in their undertaking, and from its original modest limits it speedily assumed a leading position in supplying improved machinery and appliances in demand by hosiery manufacturers. The development of the enterprise in its present-day aspect may be perhaps better estimated from the fact that the Atlas Works now occupy an area of about five thousand square yards, give regular employment to some hundreds of hands, and constitute one of the largest and best-equipped manufacturing establishments in this special line in the world.

The premises comprise an extensive block of quadrangular buildings, with wide frontages to Kirke White Street and Atlas Street, the main entrance being under an ornamental portico flanked by stone columns, and surmounted by a clock at the junction of these thoroughfares. To the right of this are the handsomely-furnished general and private offices, fitted with every modern convenience, in which a numerous clerical staff is engaged. The workshops, occupying three sides of a square, are completely self contained, combining, in addition to the manufacturing departments, iron and brass foundries, pattern-making, blacksmith's forge, and every requisite for facilitating production entirely independent of outside assistance. An exceedingly interesting feature of the establishment is the large machine shop, with its perfect outfit of improved mechanical tools and appliances, the majority of which have been specially designed and made at the works by the firm's own skilled artizans.

It would be difficult to describe, in the brief limits of space at disposal, all the clever and ingenious contrivances in use for economising labour and ensuring the absolute accuracy required in the construction of the firm's specialities, and we therefore confine our attention to the more salient features in the up-to-date improvements in hosiery machinery, for which their name is famous wherever this industry is in operation. Of premier importance, and as the earliest speciality taken up by the firm, must be indicated the Cotton's machine, of which the first erected by them dates back to 1866. This is still regarded as the best type of machine in the trade for making fashioned hosiery in cotton, wool, worsted or silk ; and with the manifold improvements suggested by the maker's experience, and introduced by them from time to time, its productive capacity has been increased, while it is now built in any desired gauge from sixteen needles in three inches, or eight gauge to seventy-eight needles in three inches thirty-nine gauge. An improved pant machine ranks next, made in various widths, in which a number of pairs can be turned out from the smallest to the largest sizes, and possessing other valuable and important features, rendering them far superior to the ordinary design. Other specialities of their make are machines for hose, half-hose and socks, with apparatus, if required, for making the instep, finishing off the toe, splicing or thickening the heels, using various colours of yarn, with other modifications, another machine designed for producing the bottoms or soles of hose separately, and also the instep; straight rib-top machines for making rib-tops for the socks, cuffs and ankles produced on straight fashioning machines ; circular stocking machines, for producing a tubular web, afterwards cut into suitable lengths for stockings ; the circular sleeve machine, circular shirt-body machine, and the circular web machine for making both the bodies and sleeves of undershirts, vests, etc. They were the first firm to introduce circular automatic seamless machines for socks and stockings into this country,—viz., The Scott and Williams Patent Seamless Machine,—which they have built very extensively, and which still holds its own amongst the many similar machines since introduced by other makers. Another patented machine by the same inventors, which this firm is just introducing, is for making striped, seamless socks and stockings—a result hitherto not obtainable in these goods. They have also undertaken the building of the Millar loom for the manufacture of woollen and other non-elastic fabrics—a machine which it is expected will very largely replace the ordinary weaving loom, upon which these fabrics are at present produced. In the form of auxiliary appliances are produced stitching machines, circular latch-needle machines, for plain ribbed, mock seam and striped goods, winding frames, steam presses, hose rolling machines, hose cutting machines, wheel brushing machines, turning-off and seaming machines, welling machines, and such accessories as needles, points, casting stoves, with tables and other requisites of hosiery manufacture. Supplying a world-wide connection, Messrs. Blackburn and Sons, Limited, have consistently maintained a uniformly high standard of excellence in every class of machine produced at Atlas Works, their name being alone a sufficient guarantee for the perfection of material and finished workmanship in all details of construction, upon which so entirely depends the quality of the output of machine-made hosiery goods and similar fabrics in the textile industry.

As indicating the excellent feeling existing between the firm and their employes, it should be recorded that due provision is made for the comfort and convenience of the hands engaged—a large and well-equipped kitchen, with all necessary boilers, ovens, utensils, etc., forming a noteworthy feature of the arrangements, and this is placed in charge of an attendant, whose duty it is to collect the dinners of the operatives and have them properly prepared in readiness by the meal hour, in order that the hands may be saved the trouble of walking home and back to the works. Within the past few years the business has been re-constructed as a limited company, with the senior partner, Mr. Blackburn, as chairman.