Thomas Speight

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Thomas Speight
Thomas Speight
Thomas Speight
Watercolour portrait of Thomas Speight, Mayor of Bradford, 1896-7, by John Sowden.
Sowden's note in notebooks -
'Thomas Speight was born in 1844 at Catterall, a little village near Garstang in Lancashire. His father was a wool comber employing 300 to 400 hand combers, some of whom worked in their own homes. When a boy of three he removed to Leeds with his father, who had become manager for Messers G E Donnisthorpe & Co Woolcombers. Mr Speight received the earlier part of his education at the Leeds Institute & was afterwards sent to Mr Knagg's boarding school at Scarborough and Later Kirkham. At the age of seventeen he was transferred to the high school as Glasgow, where he succeeded in being awarded ? prizes at the hands of Lord Borougham in the City Hall, Glasgow. Mr Speight's father came to Bradford & began business on his own account as a machine woolcomber & his son acted as his book keeper, market man & commercial agent generally and so acquired a full knowledge of the business. When his father died in 1879, Mr Speight & his brother, Robert Speight, succeeded to the business, until the latter died in 1883. Mr Speight remained in the business & greatly extended the undertaking. He removed to new premises at Thornbury and which he planned to meet his anticipations, employing about 400 hands. Eventually the concern was taken by the Woolcombers Ltd. He patented the first dabbing brush motion of noble combing machines and effected many improvements in carding & combing machines, gill boxes & washing machines. Mr Speight entered the Bradford Town Council as a representative of the Bradford Moor Ward in 1894 in the Conservative interest & again in 1897. In 1898 he was elected as Alderman. He was elected Mayor in 1896 and again in 1897-8. His first year of office was at the time of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria when the Golden Jubilee of the incorporation of Bradford was also celebrated. Mr Speight had the pleasure of receiving the official communication from Lord Salisbury that Her Majesty had been pleased to raise the borough of Bradford to the rank of a city. During his mayoralty the church congress visited the city. A conservative himself, he took special pride in offering the delegates a hearty civic welcome to Bradford. Mr Speight married Miss Sarah Hopkinson of Bradford in 1865 and had issue one son and six daughters.'
John Sowden
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