History of the Mill
Charles Watkin and John Shakerley of Somerford Hall originally owned the land on which Victoria Mill is now built. The land was known as Hunt’s Eye. The location of the foundry was considered to be the area at the top of Foundry Bank adjoining Victoria Mill which is now a small car park.In 1857, Robert Bradwell, a brass and iron founder, leased a plot of land to the northwest of Green’s foundry, and built Victoria Mill as a very speculative venture. The mill was completed in 1859.
In 1858, Charles Berisforda fully-fledged ribbon weaver, along with his brothers Francis and William, they leased part of Victoria Mill to develop their ribbon manufacturing business.The Berisford family tree goes back far as the battle of Hasting. Isaac Berisford , a 14th generation member of the family started a new life on theCheshirePlain and settledin Congleton. In fact between 1831 and 1841, there were numerous strikes and stoppages and in 1840 it was recorded that 18 mills were idle in the town. Isaacs wife kept houses for her sons in Congleton who were working at the mill, Charles, Francis and William.Overthe nextten to twelve years , the business became well established in Congleton, and in 1872 the brothers decided to expand, and took out a leaseon the whole of the mill. In 1879, Francis Berisfordsold out his share to his brothers, but in October ,1879, William Berisford died leaving Charles Berisford as the sole owner.
In 1891, Charles Berisford took into a partnership with David Birchenhall , which lasted until 1912, when it was mutually terminated. When Charles died 1898 he left the business to his sons , Harry, Phillip and Ernest. In 1916, Berisford Ribbonsheaded by Harry , became a limited company. The business had slowed because of the first world war , but when this wasover the firm expanded by purchasing Lower Park Street mill from the fustian cutter Robert Shepherd. It was about this period when Berisfords first started to produce woven labels for garments.
These were cherished by many famous shops, including Harrods.
Berisfords ribbon business continued to grow with the introduction of rayon and bias bindings, but in 1936 Harry Berisford died, and Ernest Berisford headed the company. In 1944 Ernest died and the business was left to his daughter Lillie.She married into the Sebire family and thus began a new phase in the history of this well known company. Prior to Harry Berisford’s death in 1936, John Sebire had joined the company and up to the war years, had been able to help Ernest Berisford and Harold Rippon, who was a relative of Harry’s wife, run the company.
When the second World War broke out, John Sebire served initially in a reserved occupation role, but 1943 he was sent Burma to join the Royal Corps of Signal Cypher section. Charles Sebire , an accountant, who had also been involved with the company, was appointed to the board and Harold Rippon chaired the company .Shortly after the end of the second World War , Berisfords in addition to producing nylon and terylene goods. Throughout the war years, the mill and machinery had deteriorated and it proved virtually impossible to purchase new looms.
Under the supervision of engineer Jack Rowley,Berisford’s set up a separate business of manufacturing looms which they sold all over Europe. Jack Rowley, a clever and skilled engineer, was also responsible for developing, patenting and manufacturing a bow-tying machine that also sold all over the world.
Between 1951 and 1953, new weaving sheds were erected at the side of Victoria Mil. This addition was named Elizabeth Mill. Extensions were added to the Lower Park Street Mill and Victoria Mill between 1959 and 1960, Century Mill was built.1959 Harold Rippon died. Charles Sebire became Chairman of the company and John Sebire the Managing Director. In 1973 Charles Sebire retired, and John Sebire became Chairman with Stephen Sebire taking the position of Managing Director. In 1987 part of Victoria Mill and the boiler house were demolished.
Victoria Mill is now a Antique and Collectors Centre,
along with a restaurant, art studio’s and retails business over four floors.