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Sir William Pickles Hartley (1846-1922)




William was born in Colne on 23rd February 1846. He was the only surviving child of John Hartley, a tinsmith, and his wife, Margaret Pickles and the family had lived near Pendle since the early 17th Century. William was educated at Colne Grammer School. He left school at the age of 14 and started work in his mother’s grocery shop. William was a third generation Primitive Methodist. His uncle, Robert Hartley, was a Primitive Methodist Minister who emigrated to Australia. He married Martha Horsfield the daughter of Henry and Ann Horsfield, Grocers of Colne, on Whit Monday, 21st May 1866.


The business started in 1871 as the result of a chance event. It is said that when a supplier failed to deliver a batch of jam, William made his own jam, marmalade, and jelly which sold well in his own distinctive earthenware pots. He was determined tat his products would always be top quality.


In 1874 the jam making business transferred to Bootle (Merseyside) after the sale of the Grocery business moving to Aintree in 1886 and London in 1901.


In 1880 Hartley moved to Southport, where he became known as an influential local benefactor and entrepreneur, and an active member of the local Methodist Church.


One of his daughters, Christiana (b.1872), became Southport's first woman Mayor in

1921. Other children included Maggie, Polly, Sarah, John, and Clara.


Hartley was a Primitive Methodist and applied his Christian principles to business.

He was instrumental in reviving Elmfield College (York) when it was in danger of collapse in 1906.


In 1888 he built a model village at Aintree (since named by the Victorian Society as a set of heritage buildings at risk of disrepair)


The following year he introduced a profit-sharing scheme, the results each year being announced at a special ceremony, with music and speeches. He claimed that the wages he paid to women and girls — four-fifths of the workforce — were appreciably higher than those of his competitors; he also provided free medical treatment. He personally chose his managers and trained them, sending them on advanced chemistry courses at his own expense of nearly £300,000.


He preferred to donate part of any sum requested, so as to encourage others to give. He endowed a number of hospitals in Colne, Liverpool, and London, and financed departments at Liverpool and Manchester universities.


Equally generous to Primitive Methodism, he supported an organization for building chapels, acted as treasurer of its missionary society, and converted the old Holborn Town Hall into its national headquarters.


He died on the  25th October 1922 and is buried in Trawden Methodist Cemetery.

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