|Edmund Potter, founder of Dinting Printworks, came from a family distinguished for its connections with Manchester and the textile trade during
the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The first James Potter ( 1710-1770) of Hindley, near Wigan and later of Pool Fold, near New Market Place, Manchester became a flax merchant and then a manufacturer.
His son, John Potter lived in “good style” at Ardwick Green, Manchester, where there were green fields. He married Catherine Eccles of Macclesfield and went to America in 1794, the passage taking thirteen weeks from Liverpool. During the twelve months in America he met George Washington, the first President of the United States of America.
John and his wife had three sons and two daughters. The eldest son, John was a calico printer and made a large fortune. Their third son was James, father of Edmund of Dinting Vale, who was born in 1802. The family lived at Ardwick Green, Manchester.
Edmund married the beautiful Jessica Crompton of Lune Villa, Lancaster. Their early married life was spent at Greenheys, Manchester but by 1842 they resided at Dinting Lodge, Glossop where they lived for twenty years. They had seven children - four sons and three daughters. Edmund, the eldest followed his father as head of the firm at Dinting.
The second son was Rupert, he became a barrister and married Helen Leech of Gorse Hall, Stalybridge. They had two children ; Walter Bertram, farmer and artist and Beatrix, farmer and writer of well known children’s stories.
Originally the Dinting Vale Printworks was built by Joseph Lyne of Simmondley Hall, Glossop , it was intended for spinning and carding cotton but was never used.
It stood empty by the roadside and the owls hooted and screeched inside so that people were afraid to pass the building at night and believed that it was haunted by ghosts and locally it was known as “Boggarts Mill”.
In 1825 Edmund Potter and his cousin Charles (son of the third John Potter, the calico printer) were looking for suitable premises and they established the Printworks at Dinting Vale. At that time they were both only twenty three years of age.
Dinting is part of Glossop in North West Derbyshire, gateway to the open moorland of the High Peak. Glossop at that time was a small cotton manufacturing town of about 12,000 inhabitants.
Charles and Edmund found themselves hampered, along with many others in the print trade, by heavy taxation and with problems with the block printers. At this point Charles and Edmund, in a friendly arrangement, went their separate ways. Charles becoming a great wallpaper printer at Darwen , Lancashire and Edmund carried on alone as head of the firm.
Edmund introduced printing machines to replace the old hand block printing and with the tax on prints being repealed he began to see success and soon began to extend the premises at Dinting.
Eventually Dinting Vale became a landmark with the Manchester to Sheffield railway crossing Dinting Vale near the reservoirs of the Potter’s works by a lofty viaduct in 1845.
Mr. Potter's enterprise became so successful that at one time these works were the largest calico printworks in the world.
In 1899 it further expanded becoming part of the Calico Printers' Association. Records show that in 1948 some 15,000 miles of printed cotton and rayon fabrics were produced, 85% of which were exported.
By 1842 Edmund Potter had made enough money to build a new home for his family. Dinting Lodge stood near to the Printworks, overlooking the small reservoirs which fed the mill and surrounded by trees. A driveway led across a carved wooden bridge over the Glossop Brook, passing between hedges of rhododendrons to the front door.
Edmund's family moved in and it was here that Rupert Potter, his second son, father of Beatrix spent most of his childhood.
Edmund Potter was a very strong believer that everyone should receive an education. In 1855 he built a reading room and library, well stocked with books and papers in his work's yard for his workers.
In the early 1800s a Mr. Wagstaffe built a mill, further up the valley, a short distance from the Printworks near to the junction of the main road and Primrose Lane. It was known as Dinting Mill, later to become Logwood Mill.
Eventually Edmund Potter acquired this mill and used the ground floor for the production of black dye, obtained from logwood, a dyewood imported from the West Indies. The upper floor was used as a day school for boys and girls of an early age and for some of the young part-time workers at the Printworks.
At Logwood School reading, writing , arithmetic and cleanliness were on the timetable as the young people were advised to be clean and hardworking. Blacking for clogs and soap for washing were provided along with slates and slate pencils. The building was finally demolished in the 1960s and the land now belongs to the Lancashire Chemical Company.
Each year Edmund Potter presented book prizes for the results of good work and good attendance. Attention was also given to adult education by Edmund Potter. The Dinting Vale Glee Club composed of workmen from the Printworks was formed in 1848 under the tuition of Mr. Bailey, the schoolmaster.
Edmund Potter gave many lecture and during one of them he stated that "to take men from the beer houses and the music saloons we must as a first step try the coffee rooms, the concert rooms and easy education by the eye, next the newsrooms and so on to higher standards".
Edmund left Glossop in 1862, leaving his eldest son, Edmund, to run Dinting Vale Printworks.
Rupert Potter his second son married Helen Leech and left for London about the same time as his father. Beatrix Potter was born there in 1866 followed by her brother Bertram in 1872. Due to Edmund Potter’s hard work he accumulated enough money to enable his son Rupert and his grandchildren to live in a comfortable and affluent style and develop their artistic skills, Beatrix as a writer and Bertram as an artist.
Most recently Dinting Lodge was pulled down in the 1960s, the Dinting Engineering shop alongside the main road was burned down and the Reading Room in the works yard was demolished in 2001.
Meanwhile the Printworks stopped operating in 1966, a few buildings still remain housing small business units, employing just a small work force.
Today the site is a poor reminder of the extensive works belonging to the founder, Edmund Potter.
Page last updated: 25 September 2017.
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