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Cleator Mills


At the turn of 1900, Cleator Mills had an advertising hoarding painted to help promote their business across the land. The image can be seen above. It is a scanned copy of the original.

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Thomas Ainsworth (1804-81), bought the Cleator Mills in Cleator and the nearby house called The Flosh from Henry Birley in about 1837.  Thomas at once remodelled the house and in 1866 further extended it by the addition of a new neo-Elizabethan wing with rich interiors.

The linen mills were successful. Thomas also developed iron ore deposits on his land, becoming an ironmaster and acquired shipping interests, so that at his death he left a substantial estate of £55,862.

The Flosh passed to his eldest son, David Ainsworth (1842-1906), who became MP for West Cumberland, 1880-85 and Egremont 1892-95.  However in 1898 David purchased Wray Castle, Hawkshead (Lancs) and this became his main seat for the last decade of his life.

He had no children and Wray Castle seems to have been sold after his death, while The Flosh passed to his younger brother, John Stirling Ainsworth (1844-1923), who was trained as a lawyer.

In the the 1920s, Jewish Polish World War I veteran Jacques Spreiregen, created Kangol. In 1938, Spreiregen, who was working in London as an importer, took over the mill at Cleator. There, he ran the enterprise with his nephew Joseph Meisner. A second factory was opened at nearby Frizington, and later, under the direction of Spreiregen’s younger nephew Sylvain Meisner, a third factory, manufacturing motorcycle helmets and seat belts in Carlisle.

Kangol became the major beret supplier to the British armed forces during the Second World War. All manufacture was dedicated to the army, and production reached one million berets a year.



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Cleator Moor | Cumbria: Little Ireland: Cleator Mills
Cleator Mills
Cleator Moor | Cumbria: Little Ireland
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