On 28th February 2015 the security lodge was the last building to be demolished. This leaves the occupied large warehouse (previously known at the ‘White Room’)
and the small warehouse (previously known as ‘the new wax print’) that are the only building remaining on site.
Its been a long and sad journey over the last 12 months in managing the site and witnessing on a daily basis the
memories and history as each building came down.
This historic Mill, originally built by the Ashton brothers in the early 1800’s has provided employment to many local people around the Hyde area over the years. This is evident as I speak to locals
when they tell me that their grandfather, father or other family member worked here, and sometimes workers from the same family worked here.
The factory has been known using various names such as:- F.W.Ashton, CPA, Tootal, Newton
Bank Printworks, A.Brunnscwheiler & Co, ABC or ABCWAX and Cha Textiles.
As the last Wax print producer of textiles in the UK, the wax printing process was unique, unlike any other textile printing factory. And because of the complexity
using customised machinery, the cost per yard was very high compared to conventional textile printing.
Through the years leading up to the final closure in December 2007, we faced major survival challenges in trying to serve the West African Market:
The devaluation of African currencies, the volatile market conditions, high export costs, competition from cheap Chinese copies, high manufacturing costs including trying to keep up with the latest European Environmental legislation.
All these factors contributed to the decision to transfer production to our sister factory in Ghana called Akosombo Textiles Ltd (ATL), who continue to produce the ABC branded fabrics today.
Having personally been involved with ABC for
39 years, and then being responsible for the decommissioning and demolition of the site, I felt that it was important to preserve as much heritage and history as possible, such as:
- An Archaeological
study has been completed on all building structures to record and photograph the various aged buildings and the changes and amendments over the years.
- The company archive including pattern books
from ABC and other CPA printworks have been catalogued by Manchester Metropolitan University.
- Various publications and Thesis are continually being written, with the latest about one of the first
textile merchants (E.B.Fleming) to introduce Wax prints to West Africa; we hold many of his pattern books and fabric samples in our archive.
- Artefacts, and various process items have been donated
to various institutions such as the Whitworth Art Gallery, Museum of Science & Industry, Portland Basin, Style Mill and even the Whiterock museum in Canada where one of the Manchester wax designers from the 1930’s emigrated to, and became a local
celebrity Artist. Items will also be sent to the current owners in China to become part of the museum in memory of Mr Cha Chi Ming, who began building his textile empire in 1949.
As of March 2015, the site is available for sale and despite many rumours,
we do not know what the future development will be, as it will be the decision of the purchaser to decide.