Wednesday, 23 January 2019

(de) Hamel's Tape Mills, Tamworth #localhistory

While clearing out, I was sorting through some old photographs and found some which my Dad had digitised in 2001 for Ian de Hamel, a steward and regular member of the Cathedral's congregation until his death in 2003. Although this post is more to do with local history than the Cathedral Choir, there is a tenuous link, as Ian's wife - Polly - was married to Richard Greening (Organist and Master of the Choristers from 1959) and they lived in Darwin House.

The six photographs are of aspects of the plant and work of Hamel's Tape Mills which was based in Tamworth. A 2014 article from the local Tamworth Herald provides some history:

French origins of Hamel's Mill
by John Harper | 13 November 2014
FOR over 140 years Hamel's tape mill was one of Tamworth's biggest employers. Generations of local families earned their living at the textile factory that evolved and expanded from a house in Bolebridge Street.
Bruno de Hamel was a persecuted French Huguenot (Calvinist protestant) who, among over half-a million of his countrymen, fled into exile to escape the bloody revolution that led many to a premature death at the hand of 'Madame Guillotine'.
Bruno came to England and eventually arrived in Tamworth. He made his living as a teacher of French, and opened a small China shop in Market Street.
After moving to a larger house in Bolebridge Street, he built a loom and encouraged his son Etienne to 'get weaving'. In 1837 a tape manufacturing business was born. Orders came in thick and fast, the house was extended, before a mill was built and more labour taken on.
Etienne proved himself to be an astute businessman, but he was also a talented artist, creating many splendid landscape views of Tamworth.
With the advent of the zip fastener in the 1920s, business expanded even more.
By the early 1960s over 600 worked at Hamels when Bruno's greatgrandson, Ian, was in charge. Sadly, he was to be the last of the family to manage the mill before competition from abroad became too much and sales declined.
The old mill was demolished in 1980 - the town's Job Centre and Saxon Mill housing development now stands on the site.
I have no information about the photographs, beyond the scanned filenames. They are recorded here as it they are clearly a part of local history which may interest someone in future, or link to other research:

deHamel - Tamworth
This looks like the site of the Tamworth mill. What appears
to be facade of the building can be seen in a photo on flikr

deHamel - Chase Terrace
deHamel - Dye Works
deHamel - Loom
deHamel - Lichfield Cathedral
This looks to be some form of exhibition at Lichfield Cathedral,
as the equipment and products are pictured in
front of the Great West Door.

The local history of the de Hamel family proves fascinating, and there are a variety of references online to 'E B Hamel and Sons Ltd', which was the company name, based at Felix Mills on Bolebridge Street in Tamworth. There are some more pictures available through Staffordshire Past Track, and some more details of the family, who lived at Middleton Hall, in an edition of the Nuneaton and North Warwickshire Family History Society journal.