Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

'Last Cotton Tycoon' Dies Aged 84

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

'Last Cotton Tycoon' Dies Aged 84

Article excerpt

Edmund Gartside, the man once dubbed Lancashire's 'last cotton tycoon' has died aged 84, his family has announced.

The grandson of a spinner who built the Royton-based Shiloh empire, Major Gartside spent almost 40 years working in the family firm.

His efforts helped keep Shiloh alive over decades of struggle against cheap foreign competition, man-made fibres and what he once called "total government indifference to the fate of one of Britain's most important industries".

The firm was founded by Edmund's grandfather Tommy in 1874. At its height it oversaw 14 mills in Royton alone, employing hundreds of people.

In 1997 Edmund, who died peacefully at home on Saturday surrounded by his family, spearheaded a £4.2m takeover of Courtaulds in Bolton saving 350 spinners' job at the once giant Bolton mill.

Speaking to the press on his first visit to the firm Mr Gartside, a life-long resident of Rochdale, outlined his determination to keep the region's cotton industry alive -but also gave an insight into the pragmatic business acumen required to do so.

He said: "This country was built on making things and I am doing everything in my power to keep that tradition alive. "In all but the most difficult economic circumstances Shiloh has managed to give the shareholders a return. We have done so by exploiting specialist markets in a range of products from high-fashion yarns through base materials for conveyor belts and cotton wool for medical purposes.

"Nobody's company can compete with India, Turkey or now Indonesia in run-of-the-mill, downmarket cotton.

"We rely on quality, expertise and quick delivery to make our profits. And although the word 'profit' is not fashionable in some quarters, without it the people we now employ would be out of a job."

Shiloh Spinners Ltd was dissolved in 2009, but Mr Gartside continued in business through a successful healthcare service company which keeps the Shiloh name alive to this day.

Throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Mr Gartside, who was educated at Winchester and Trinity College Cambridge, held senior positions on several trade bodies including the British Textiles Employers' Association, the Council of British Cotton Textiles, Eurocotton, and the International Textile Manufacturers' Federation, campaigning vigorously on behalf of the Lancashire textiles industry and its workers. …

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