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Back button | Home | Saltaire History | Arthur Davy: Businessman, Traveller & Philanthropist
Added to website: 1 July 2014
From Sydney, Australia: Peter Davy's connection with Saltaire

Peter Davy, of Sydney, Australia, contacted the website on 8 May, 2014, to share his family history. His great grandfather, John Davy, was the bookkeeper/cashier at Salts Mill, and his grandfather, Arthur Davy became a successful businessman and philanthropist.

Peter Davy, 2014: "Firstly I would like to say that I am very impressed with your website which has prompted me to write to you. My connection to Saltaire goes back to my great grandfather John Davy who was born in Cowling /Kildwick area, his vocation being a drysalter [I think it means dyer]. In his early twenties, John migrated to Bradford, where the Industrial Revolution was booming. All his family were born in Idle, one of which was my own father also named John  They were all involved in the textile trade.

The census of 1881 shows John Davy and his wife and children, one of which is Arthur Davy my grandfather who became a prominent person in the Bradford and District Textile Industry. John Davy became the Bookkeeper/Cashier at Salts Mill.  When I questioned the subject on my visits to England, there appears to be little information available on the staff at Salts Mill. I do not know how long John Davy was employed as the Bookkeeper, and later as Cashier. Questions abound: where did he aquire his accountancy skills; they are slightly different from those of a drysalter!

I am attaching the obituary of my grandfather Arthur Davy. You will note from it that his father, John Davy, was on the old Shipley Local Board and afterwards the District Council acting as chairman of the Finance Committee, and his mother was one of the founders of the P.S.A. in Windhill.  Unfortunately I do not have any photographs of John Davy.

I was born in Shipley and now live in Sydney Australia where I have resided for many years. Fortunately, Ihave been able to make many visits back to UK which always included Yorkshire. I shall be 88 next month alas no more travel!"

Best regards, Peter Davy.

Bradford Telegraph & Argus 20 October 1944
Business Man, Traveller, Philanthropist
Death of Mr. Arthur Davy of Bradford

One of the best known industrialists in the West Riding, Mr. Arthur Davy of Blankney Grange, Wyke, Bradford, Head of the firm of Arthur Davy Ltd., worsted stuff merchants, Sunbridge Road, Bradford, died at his home last night in his seventy third year after an illness of some months.

From humble beginnings he built up a prosperous business whose tentacles reached out to the Far East.

After selling the “Telegraph” in Shipley (a fact in which he took pride) he started in a small way as a fent dealer, and gradually built up a business which placed him in a dominant position in the West Riding. He was one of Bradford's finest examples of a self-made man, and, despite his considerable success, he remained throughout a pleasing personality and made friends wherever he went. His father, the late Mr. John Davy, was for many years a member of the old Shipley Local Board and afterwards of the District Council, acting as chairman of the Finance Committee, and his mother was one of the founders of the P.S.A. Movement at Windhill.

The family originally came from Cowling, where it had been settled for a long period, and representatives of it in the Craven district carried on a business as wholesale suppliers of small shops, which made Davy one of the most familiar names in the dales.

Great Liberal

All his life Mr. Davy had been an ardent Liberal and was one of the ablest exponents of Free Trade in the city. His extensive travels abroad and his large commercial connections convinced him that there was only one policy for England and that was Free Trade, and it was on the Free Trade programme that he twice fought the Shipley Division as the Liberal candidate, the first time in 1922 when he lost to the late Sir Norman Rae, a Liberal-National, and again in 1930 following the death of Mr W. Mackinder, the Labour Member.

During his early days he lived at Idle and it was as representative of the Idle Ward that he sat as a Liberal member of the Bradford City Council.

Business occupied most of his time; however, and his interests expanded until his firm became one of the leading export houses in the West riding.

His fortitude, courage and indomitable spirit was shown when following the slump in which his business was badly hit, he set to work and with exceptional capacity allied to great determination he recovered his former business and prosperity.

Widely Travelled

One of the most widely travelled of Bradford businessmen, he visited the Far East on nine or ten occasions. He was in Japan at the time of the devastating Tokyo earthquake, when he forsook the wool trade temporarily for cinematography, and brought to England the first film of the scenes following the catastrophe. It is said the that Mr. Davy, in his journeys to the Far East, South America, Egypt and elsewhere, had covered between 150,000 and 200,000 miles on business.

Mr. Davy's life was not all devoted to business and politics. He was a keen traveller, a lover of the theatre and music and possessed a keen appreciation of art. On his trips to the Far East he picked up many artistic treasures, and his standing and repute among Japanese traders was so high that he returned laden with exquisite gifts, which gave hours of delight to the many friends he loved to entertain at Blankney Grange.

Among his treasures were four examples of Italian art – marble mosaic pictures worked by a master of the craft at Florence, of which he was justly proud. His artistic sense was also manifest in the beautiful oak panelling at his home, the work of a West riding craftsman, who found in Mr. Davy a generous patron.

Members of the theatrical profession always received a hearty welcome to Blankney Grange, and among the many celebrated actors who frequently were Mr. Davy's guests was the late Sir Henry Lytton of d'Oyly Carte fame, who spent many happy hours entertaining Mr. Davy and his family and friends.

Employees' Outing

Mr. Davy delighted in organ music and he had specially built a Blankney Grange a beautiful pipe organ on which many celebrated organists have played. He loved to be among his friends, his workers and his business associates. Not long after the last war he gave an extremely pleasant day's outing to 150 of his employees. They were conveyed by special train to London; breakfast was served on the train; the party were met at St. Pancras by special motor-buses; taken round the sights of the Metropolis; regaled at a fashionable restaurant; entertained at the Coliseum, where Grock the famous clown made fun for them and at them; and given a dinner on the return journey to Bradford.

A man of the most generous disposition, Mr Davy's benefactions included a host of worthy causes and in 1927 he gave £4,375 towards the new Bradford hospital scheme.
At one time he was secretary of the Shipley Liberal Club, founder of the Idle Musical Union, member of the Shipley Golf Club, and enthusiastic motorist, and a member of the Airedale (Shipley) Lodge Freemasons.

He leaves a widow and a grown up family of two daughters and one son. Burly, genial, large- hearted, he was typical of a type of West Riding businessman that is fast disappearing, and his loss will be felt in Bradford, where he had played so large a part, and where he had performed so much good work.

Note from the Editor:

Many thanks to Peter Davy for sharing this information.

The Saltaire story is evolving. Events happen in every age which fail to be documented. It is frustrating that the records and paperwork of Salts Mill were not valued enough in the past to preserve them. Information is welcomed and valued as we piece together elements of a story that could otherwise be lost forever.

 

 

 

   

 
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