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Joseph Dumville (1862-1959)
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Article in the Bradford 'Telegraph & Argus', 1952, to mark Joseph Dumville's 90th birthday

A Familiar Figure in Textiles

photograph: Joseph Dumville (1862-1959)

Eighty years in and around the textile trade have left Joe Dumville happy and full of life. Tomorrow he will be 90.

It was in 1928, after 18 years as chief lecturer on spinning and combing at Bradford Technical College, that Mr. Dumville 'retired' for the first time. He has been working ever since.

He has been living his own ideas on retirement - just a change of activity, being able to make your hobby your full-time job. Except that in his case the hobby has always been his job - the ins and outs of textiles from back to front.

As a ten-year-old half-timer he gained his first taste of the industry in Ramsbottom and Firth's Industrial Mills, Preston Street. Eleven years later he knew enough to obtain a manager's job in the worsted spinning section of a mill - in Massachussetts.

Back to Britain

Half-regretfully he relates that while in Bradford four years later - on holiday - he accepted an offer to become foreman in the mill of Armitage Bros., worsted coating manufacturers, Huddersfield - again in the worsted spinning department. One feels that energetic, sprightly Mr. Dumville would rather like to have become an American.

A year or two later - in 1889 - Headingley-born Mr. Dumville married a Bradfordian, Miss Emma Kidd, shortly after he had been made manager of a spun-silk mill at Congleton, Cheshire.

Mrs. Dumville's insistence that her son and two daughters should be educated in Bradford brought Mr. Dumville back to his childhood home again - to start the mohair spinning department at Lister and Co.'s Manningham Mills. He taught in evening institutes too, and it was from Lister's that he went to his Technical College post.


On the day of his 'retirement' two business men asked him to introduce a newly-invented spinning 'gadget' to the trade. So well known was he that he found it almost an embarrassment in his tours of the country's textile areas with this device; he did not like people to buy it out of friendship alone. 'Each day when I had sold one of the things, I came home. I had usually finished by lunchtime', he chuckles.

After this came the start of his partnership with a former student of his, Mr. J. W. Warburton, who had become a textile adviser. Dumville and Warburton, textile consultants - trouble shooters and 'detectives' for the trade - started on nothing and now have an international reputation and equipment equal to a research association.

High offices

Mr. Dumville's knowledge and experience have given him high offices in the textile world. He is connected with a host of organisations, but is, perhaps, most proud to be Bradford Textile Society's sole honorary life member. He has held every office in the society.

A founder-member of the Textile Institute's Yorkshire section, he is a Fellow - one of the first appointed - and a vice-president of the Institute.

He is the author of articles and reviews - many in this newspaper - and technical books. Shorthand is another of his skills and hobbies.

He is still the treasurer of the Bradford Friends' Adult School committee, a movement for which he has worked most of his lifetime. In the education sphere, too, he has been a keen partisan for the granting of University status to Bradford Technical College.

Faith in work

The Corinthian Lodge of Freemasons, Bradford, of which he was Master in 1931/32 - he has also been a Provincial Officer - honoured him with an illuminated address and a presentation of books on Friday evening.

The first Mrs. Dumville died in 1935, but her picture is in the front room at home - 5, Highfield Drive, Heaton, Bradford - together with that of the late husband of his second wife, the former Mrs. A. E. Lee; a happy sign.

Joe Dumville - as he is affectionately known - has great faith in the trade to which he is devoted - 'Bradford can still give the world a lead in its quality and production of worsted yarn and fabrics, due to expert knowledge of raw materials, superior processing methods and the skill of its operatives - and this in spite of increasing foreign competition.'

And with that lofty end in view, he was, as usual, busily at work on Saturday morning. - P.B.J.

See also:

Joseph Dumville (1862-1959)

Joseph Dumville: Obituary



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