Holme Mill, in the North Beck valley between Fell Lane and Guard House, built in the late 18th century for cotton and later for worsted, has been associated with the manufacture of paper tubes since 1892 when John Stell bought the Holme Mill Estate. The factory must then have looked much like this.
John Stell was indeed acquiring an even larger stake in the locality, as the Holme Mill Estate included a warehouse and office, coachhouse and cart-shed, “water-wheel, boiler, engine, weirs, mill races, goit and reservoirs”, a dwelling-house, some cottages, a farm and 11 fields covering 18 acres.
Paper tubes of varying types – cop, conical, fly and cap, parallel, corrugated – were originally demanded by the textile industry, but production later diversified. Stell’s began making Clarnico sweet tubes in 1908, post tubes and toilet rolls in 1909. In 1937 Sam Stell patented his “boxes for packing flowers”. By August of 1938 the firm was being assessed as to its wartime “capacity for the production of armament stores”, which included a weekly output of 2,000 “Containers Charge Aircraft Catapult Mark I”.
The photograph has been supplied by Mr Kevin Seaton, of Shann Lane, Keighley.