Thornliebank Co Ltd

Thornliebank Co Ltd was one of a number of British textile printing companies which amalgamated in 1899 to form the Calico Printers Association. The Thornliebank textile works was established by Robert Osburn in 1779. When Osburn went bankrupt in 1789, John Crum bought the business for his sons Alexander and James. The new company, Alexander & James Crum & Co, manufactured muslin and printed linens at Thornliebank. The company expanded to become one of the leading Scottish printworks, employing over 1,500 people. Alexander Crum's sons, John and Walter, took on the management of the business in 1819, changing the company name to John & Walter Crum & Co. Walter Crum had studied chemistry at Glasgow University, before continuing his studies with James Thomson, an accomplished chemist and pioneer of scientific industry based at Primrose Works in Clitheroe, Lancashire. On joining the family firm, Walter Crum represented the company's interests abroad, travelling to Syria, Turkey, France and Germany. He returned to his studies at Glasgow University in 1818, and published his first scientific paper, "Indigo", in 1823. Walter Crum later put his scientific theories into practice at Thornliebank, building a laboratory on the site and continuing his research into dyeing. His interest in the dyeing process influenced the direction of the company, with the introduction of new colours and improvements in printing techniques. Walter Crum took sole control of the company in 1858. Under his direction, the best machinery available was installed at Thornliebank, followed by improvements to water purity and flow, and improvement of workforce conditions. Walter Crum was succeded in the management of the company by his son Alexander, who took over the business on his father's death in 1867. Alexander and his brother William converted the business into a private, limited company in 1886, renaming it Thornliebank Co Ltd. The printworks continued operating until 1930, but from 1899 was part of the Calico Printers Association. From 1901, the company also had a design studio, with space for five designers, in the Calico Printers Association headquarters on Portland Street, Manchester.