Witney News - New Blue Plaques Unveiled

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New Blue Plaques Unveiled

Blue Plaques for Charles Early and William Smith, Blanket Manufacturers, have been unveiled in Witney by Rt Hon David Cameron MP

The plaque for Charles Early were unveiled at the gatehouse of the former Witney Mill in Mill Street, followed by the unveiling of the plaque for William Smith at his former house in Bridge Street (Green’s Funeral Services) next to the Bridge Street Mill buildings.

The plaques are a commemoration not only of the men but of the blanket industry as a whole, the source of the town’s prosperity and fame for over 300 years. Witney Mill went on working until 2002 and with its closure the long history of blanket manufacturing in the town came to an end.

The Early family had been making blankets since the 17th century. Charles Early (1824-1912) united the separate family businesses and centred all processes on one site at Witney Mill, creating a thriving and enduring company. William Smith (1815-1875) was a poor orphan who at the age of nine was a bobbin weaver in one of the Early mills. A very enterprising character, he turned his hand to various trades, including brewing, and was eventually able to achieve his heart’s desire by founding the Bridge Street Mill, the first in Witney to use steam power.

These are the 43rd and 44th Oxfordshire Blue Plaques to be installed in the county since the scheme was founded in 1999. Last year a plaque was erected for the artist J.A.Shuffrey at 7 Woodgreen.

Posted : 27/04/2009 23:57:11

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