Wilton on the Carpet
When researching some of our properties some unusual stories can come to light. One such is the interesting tale of Pardoe Yates, a businessman of Wilton at the end of the C19 and how this seemingly upstanding gent was exposed to be yet another typical example of Victorian double standards…
In 1895, Kelly’s directory lists Pardoe Yates, J.P., as an alderman on Wilton Town Corporation and a director of the Royal Carpet Works, manufacturers of Axminster and Wilton carpets. His father, Samuel Pardoe Yates, had originally manufactured carpets in Bridgnorth, before buying the Axminster looms and later moving the business to
It appears that, during his lifetime, Pardoe Yates was highly respected in
Both he and his father seem to have displayed liberal inclinations. His father was described as being ‘an ardent supporter of reform’ and ‘one of the Chartists, once addressing a meeting of 20,000 in
The report continued: ‘The carpet factory was closed for the funeral on Friday. On Wednesday, during the dinner hour, the employees were given the opportunity of taking a last look at the deceased gentleman as he lay at his residence, ‘Glencairn’. The coffin was taken from ‘Glencairn’ to the cemetery on a wheel bier.’ The ‘Order of Procession’ included the Mayor and Corporation, the carpet manufactory managers and workers and servants at ‘Glencairn’. A service was held at the Congregational Church, the Quaker Meeting House being too small to accommodate so large a congregation, and after the interment there followed an assembly at the Town Hall, including the mayor, Mr. John White and his wife the mayoress.
However, all was not as it seemed. After the death of Pardoe Yates’s father, further mortgages had been taken out on the business, and in 1889 it had been sold to J.F.Rutter for the sum of £53,000, and capital was raised to the amount of £140,000.
By 1904, the business was bankrupt and but for the intervention of Lord Pembroke, who bought it for £8,000, resold it to a new company for the same figure, and raised £20,000 to recapitalise it, the carpet industry, the town’s main employer, would have been lost to Wilton.
In ‘The Book of Wilton’, Chris Rousell relates a fascinating story concerning Pardoe Yates and his death in 1898. He is said to have been very well-liked and respected in
‘He died very suddenly, and his death was a great shock to the town, for no one had even heard that he was ill. He was now laid in state upon his bed, while the factory employees filed through the room in long lines, to see his face for the last time. As she went by, one of the factory girls was bold enough to lay her finger upon the dead man’s cheek, and then she sprang back, exclaiming:
‘Ain’t he warm!’
After this no further visitors were admitted to the room.’
The funeral procession was two miles long and ‘the orations delivered over the grave by ministers of various denominations were if anything even longer.
Then followed an unexpected sequel. It transpired that this seemingly righteous man had been living a double life. He was no teetotaller in
As a postscript to this story, some notes in the Record Office (WSHC 2583/109/2) by S.H.R.Clarke contain a memorandum written after meeting Reginald, the son of Pardoe Yates, at the Carpet Factory on June 13th 1963:
‘He remembers the death of his father in 1898 when he was ten. His father died at ‘Glencairn’, No.3,