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Papers of Sir Isaac Holden (1807-1897) and Family, West Riding wool combers

Archive reference: HOL

This collection is a wonderful, relatively little known, resource for studying Victorian Bradford and the wool industry that made the city great. It also offers insight into 19th century French politics and social history and British political life and ideas.

The Holdens

Sir Isaac Holden was born in Paisley in 1807. He became involved with the wool industry as a book-keeper in Townend Brothers worsted mill in 1830. He stayed with the firm until 1846, becoming works manager and introducing mechanical woolcombing methods. In 1847 he took out a joint patent with Samuel Cunliffe Lister for "Improvements in carding preparing combing and spinning wool", and also in making heald and genappe yarns. In 1848 Holden opened a large new wool-combing plant in Bradford, the Alston Works. Holden and Lister opened a wool-combing factory at St. Denis, near Paris, soon replaced by factories at Croix and Rheims. About this time the two were involved in work on the square-motion comb, which Lister later patented. In 1858, after a number of disagreements, Lister sold his share of the business to Holden. Later Sir Isaac turned to politics: he was elected M.P. for Knaresborough 1865-68, for the Northern Division of the West Riding 1882-85, and for Keighley 1885-95. He was created a baronet in 1893, and died in 1897.

You can discover the stories of Sir Isaac's courtship of his wife Sarah, his magnificent home at Oakworth, and his long-running feud with Lister in the 100 Objects exhibition.

The Papers

The Papers were donated to the University of Bradford in 1971. They span the 1840s to the 1890s and consist mainly of letters between Sir Isaac, his wife Sarah, and other family members. There is plenty of material relating to his dispute with Lister, the French business, and his home, Oakworth House.

HOL Holden Papers Collection Description

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HOL Holden Papers Handlist

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