Made in North Lincs

Humber Museums Partnership - Made in North Lincs

About Made in North Lincs


When thinking of manufacturing in North Lincolnshire, one of the first things that come to mind is the Steelworks in Scunthorpe. This certainly has had a massive impact onto the area throughout its existence. But besides steel, what else is Made In North Lincolnshire?

Many rural industries have been built in the area. Many villages used to have their own wheelwrights or undertaker. There were tile and brick makers along the river banks. Blacksmiths were found in many places too. If you want to find out more about these rural industries, please visit the Rural Life Museum at Normanby Hall Country Park.

This exhibition looks at a wide variety of industries. Some of these were and some still are active in the North Lincolnshire area. But look around outside too, as this is only a small selection of all the products that are Made in North Lincolnshire!

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  • The Saddler display at Normanby Hall's Rural Life Museum

  • An Elswick Hopper advertisement, 1910s

  • Advertisement, 1892

  • A selection of labels for preserves made by Spring and Co. in Brigg

Cotto Products

The Cotto company was a manufacturer of white goods, such as washing machines and dryers. It was founded in the early 1920s by Rufus Frank Cottingham (c1899 – 1971), who used a war gratuity of £20 to do so.

Cottingham started off mending tins and pans in a shed. In 1922 R. F. Cottingham & Co was listed in the directory as a sheet metal workers on 12 Market Hill in Scunthorpe. In 1926 Cottingham also owned an ironmongers on Frodingham Road.

The Cotto factory was set up at Digby Street, Scunthorpe. The company’s motto was “Cotto’s Does The Nation’s Washing”.

In 1936 Cotto Products was the largest sheet metal works in the county, employing nearly 300 people. The factory specialised in Cotto Washers and could produce five machines a day.

Besides white goods, Cotto also made ice cream containers, toffee cutters and wrapping machines. During World War Two the company started to make a device that allowed house holders to remove bombs. Its name was the Bomb Gobbler. In 1946, Cottingham patented an invention for a golf practicing and teaching apparatus.

The company stopped producing goods in 1986.

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  • An early Cotto Products advertisement, 1936.

  • Cotto trade stand displaying some of their products.

  • Employees making technical drawings of Cotto products.

  • Inside the Cotto factory.

  • Rufus Frank Cottingham, founder of Cotto Products, 1930s.

Creative Arts

Not industrial but still an industry, the creative arts. North Lincolnshire’s artists have produced novels, poetry and art for centuries. The creative arts trade easily extends out of the county, across the country and even further afield.

One of the oldest successful artists from our area is William Fowler. Next to his career as an architect he sold his prints throughout the country. He was often commissioned to do work for wealthy art enthusiasts.

There are many artists residing in North Lincolnshire today. A great example of an artist who has made a living out of her art is Hannah Wrendale. Hannah started her business of Wrendale Designs from her kitchen table in Melton Ross. Inspired by the Lincolnshire countryside, Hannah started painting hares. Soon she branched out to other animals, like foxes, pheasants, geese, dogs and hens. Hannah’s beautiful designs are used on mugs, pillows, stationery and many other items.

The written word is also well represented in North Lincolnshire. Examples of authors and poets from past and present are:
* James Hornsby “the Crosby Poet”, 1833 – 1915, local issues
* Edith Spilman Dudley, 1885 – 1969, Lincolnshire poetry and folklore
* Ted Lewis, 1940 – 1982, crime fiction
* Margaret Bailey, current, fantasy and non-fiction
* Lynda Page, current, fiction

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  • 'A Group of Warriors' by William Fowler, 1804. This print was published in 1888, in the antiquities book 'Northumbria'.

  • Yeshen Venema Photography

  • Hannah Dale in her kitchen studio, creating one of her artworks.

  • Many artists create and display their work at the Ropewalk in Barton on Humber.

  • Scunthorpe Operatic Society publicity photograph of the poet Edith Spilman Dudley.

Decades of Cycling

One of North Lincolnshire’s best known manufacturing companies was Elswick-Hopper Cycle and Motor Company Limited of Barton upon Humber. The company began in 1880, when Fred Hopper started a whitesmith’s business on Brigg Road. In 1890, after the invention of the safety bicycle, Hopper decided to start making his own design of this new form of transport. The success of his models enabled him to expand his business. In 1910 Hopper’s acquired the bankrupt Elswick Cycle Company of Newcastle and by 1912 the company employed around 800 workers.

Elswick-Hopper took over Falcon Cycles in 1977 and in 1984 the company relocated to Brigg. The 111-year long Elswick-Hopper connection with the bicycle industry finally ended when the Casket Group took over Falcon Cycles in 1991.

Today, we find only a few bicycle manufacturers in North Lincolnshire. One of these is Paragon Cycles, begun by Dave Heath-Drury in 2015. In their Scunthorpe-based factory, customers can have their bicycles custom-made from the frame to the paintwork.

Food and Drink

A large food manufacturer was Riley’s Crisps. The Riley brothers started their crisp empire while they were working at Scunthorpe’s steelworks. In 1947 they set up in a warehouse on Allanby Street and committed to making crisps full time. In the late 1950s, when they couldn’t expand any further, the factory moved to Colin Road. Later a new warehouse opened on Northampton Road. At one point the company was the fifth largest crisp manufacturer in the country.

There are a few modern day breweries in North Lincolnshire. One of these is the Axholme Brewing Company, set up in 2012. The Crowle-based brewery produces three core range brews. They also make several guest ales and seasonal beers throughout the year. Their speciality is beers made with foraged local ingredients. Axholme Brewing Co brews about 1200 litres of beer per week.

Examples of other food and drink manufacturers in the past and present are:
* Springs of Brigg (curds and preserves, c1880 – 1980)
* W.T. Brumpton, Scunthorpe (drinks, c1912 – 1977)
* Radiance Confectionary Works, Scunthorpe ( -1923)
* British Sugar, Brigg (1928 – 1991)
* Tom Woods Brewery, Barnetby (1995 – present)
* Pipers Crisps, Brigg (2004 – present)


Though made of a fragile material, photographs are products that are kept and cherished. As they show our family, our friends, our home or our workplace we want to keep them for the next generation.

North Lincolnshire Museum has an extensive photograph archive. A part of this collection was made by our own home-grown photographers.

North Lincolnshire was home to several fantastic photographers. One of the earliest professional photographers was James Walsham Hall, from Winterton. Walsham Hall was active between about 1856 and 1896. The museum houses a large collection of Walsham Hall’s negatives.

A generation later was Arthur Henry Singleton (1879-1927). Singleton was active as a photographer between c1900 and 1927. He frequently took photographs for the Hull Daily Mail. Another professional photographer during that period was Joseph Spavin. Both photographers worked from Scunthorpe.

Other local professional photographers:
* Grayson Clarke, Brigg (active c1913 – c1933)
* Charles Canty, Barton upon Humber (active c1882 – c1896)
* Thomas Smith, Brigg (active c1870s – 1890s)
* Frank G. Ashton, Brigg (active c1900s – 1910s)
* Francis E. Bowen, Scunthorpe (active from c. 1930)

Ship Building

For centuries, large ships, sloops and boats were made along the Humber and Trent banks. Some of the larger ship building yards were at Burton Stather, Barton upon Humber and New Holland.

One example of a ship built in North Lincolnshire is the Spider T. This Humber Super Sloop was built in 1926 by Warrens Shipyard in New Holland. The sloop was seafaring and built to carry bricks. The Spider T fell out of use in the 1970s. Restoration work started in 2004 at the sloop’s home of Keadby Lock and the Spider T is now proudly sailing the Humber once again.

The Cook family founded the Burton Stather shipyard in 1788. Later on, the Wray family launched 341 ships here between 1816 and 1892. The last known surviving ship built at Burton Stather’s Wray & Son shipyard is the Sigurfari, originally named Bacchante. This ship was built in 1885 and is now on display in the Arkranes Museum Centre in Iceland.

Barton upon Humber has been home to many ship builders. Some examples are Clapson & Son, Mr George Hill and Mr Thomas Waddingham. Smaller shipyards were at Brigg, Keadby and Winteringham.

Today the North Killingholme based company of Humber Work Boats still constructs small ships.

Tailors, Milliners and Cobblers

What is a tailor? A person who makes, repairs and alters clothing.
What is a milliner? A person who designs and manufactures hats.
What is a cobbler? A person who makes and mends shoes and boots.

Look at these occupations in the parish of Scawby. In the directory of 1855, Scawby surprisingly was home to two tailors and no less than three shoe makers. This is impressive for a parish of just over 1600 people (1851 census).

Most people had no means of transport other than walking and so they would go to the closest place for their needs. This explains how three shoemakers could survive in a village. In the directory, six people in the parish are listed as gentry. Of course, these wealthy people could have helped with the tradespeople’s business.

In the mid 20th century a large hosiery and textiles manufacturer in the area was Corah. The Leicester based company had two factories here, one in Scunthorpe and one in Brigg. The Brigg site opened in 1946 and closed in 1975/76 and the Scunthorpe site opened in 1955 and closed c 1996. In 1965 about 6.5 million items of men’s underwear were made at these factories.

The Decline in Rural Trades

The amount of crafts and tradespeople in the area reduced drastically in the 20th century. In the mid-1800s there were many carpenters, tailors, tile makers and brewers in the area. By the early 20th century there were just a few left scattered over the North Lincolnshire area.

One of the reasons for this decline was the industrial revolution (c1780 – c1840). Machines were taking over the workforce but also took away the small business’ trade. A shoemaker could not compete with the machine-made products from the cities. A potter could not keep up with the large-scale production of factories.

Many people moved away from the countryside, towards the towns and cities where the work was. This also affected the rural industries, as a decline in population meant there were less people to sell to. Blacksmiths, wheelwrights and saddlers kept trading well for a bit longer, though this changed when motorised vehicles became more normal and slowly took over.

Other culprits to the decline of rural trades started in the mid 20th century. Large chain stores replaced local trades and shops, as they could not compete with the prices and stock.

Unknown trades

This is a selection of curious or long gone trades from Lincolnshire Directories of 1872, 1905 and 1930.

• Currier: dresses and colours leather after it is tanned
• Draper: deals in fabrics and sewing needs
• Maltster: prepares the malt from grain, for the brewer
• Tanner: prepares and converts raw animal hides into leather
• Tinner and brazier: works with tin / brass
• Town crier: makes public announcements in the streets

• Accoucheuse: a midwife
• Bone setter: a ‘surgeon’, non-qualified practitioner who sets fractured and dislocated bones
• Cow keeper: keeps one or more cows, providing milk which was sold at the front door or window
• Grain painter: paints grain on wood to make it look more expensive
• Higgler and huckster: (travelling) sales person selling small goods
• Hosier: sells stockings, socks, gloves, nightcaps
• Sheep dipper: responsible for the dipping of sheep in a trough of insecticide

• Baby linen washer: a specialist to wash baby’s nappies
• Cooper: makes barrels
• Fellmonger: deals in hides or skins, particularly sheepskins
• Tallow chandler: makes or sells candles
• Stay maker: makes corsets
• Tripe dresser: prepares tripe, the lining of the stomach of an animal, for food

Humber Museums Partnership