From the Express archive: Fragments of old Burnley

Last week we published a photograph of the Mayor of Burnley, Alderman John H. Sutcliffe, visiting the Prestige factory in Colne Road in the town in 1968. It was published in “From the Express Archive” column, but I remembered an old advert for Prestige.

Fragments of old Burnley
Fragments of old Burnley

It was in the excellent Burnley Festival Week Souvenir of 1951 which is reproduced for you here. As you can see it includes some prestige products, many of which were made in Burnley, though the firm had other factories in Derby and Blackburn.

The advert includes a splendid looking knife set and a presentation box of kitchen utensils. In the bottom left hand corner, is an image of the firm’s famous egg beater. I have an earlier version of a Skyline egg beater which was given to me by my nephew who saw it at a boot sale in Devonshire and thought that I might like it.

My egg beater is an earlier version and, on the wheel, there are the words, “Skyline, Made in Burnley, England”. It is a simple, but ingenious-looking device, made of metal with a small coiled metallic handle.

I am quite proud of having this Burnley-made utensil, so I looked in my kitchen drawer to see if I had anything else that was made by Prestige. I found that I had a bottle opener, another Skyline product, which was one of the Prestige brand names. It was also made in Burnley.

I have been re-reading an early guide to Towneley’s Museum of Local Crafts and Industries, which was printed by my father. It was one of the last jobs he did as manager of Burnley Council’s Printing and Stationery Department, and I was involved because he asked me to read the text.

I don’t think that I made many, if any, changes but, when I read it, I was very taken by how lucky we were to have such a museum at Towneley. The museum does not restrict itself to crafts but it takes in, as the title suggests, local industries, one of which was the making of kitchen equipment by firms like Prestige.

Morris and Wilkinson, Progress Kitchenwares, and a few more, once gave Burnley the name “Little Sheffield”. The Yorkshire city was once at the centre of this, and related trades, but Burnley became something of a rival and our town was well worth the title.

The Mayor’s visit, over 60 years ago, the 1951 advert, my egg beater (mother used to call the one we had, an egg whisk) and my faithful bottle opener, made me think. I wonder if your kitchen drawers contain any Burnley-made kitchen utensils? Could you have a look and let me know what you find?

I would like to do some research on the subject of “Little Sheffield” and publish the results, possibly here in the Burnley Express. Another alternative might be to exhibit Burnley-made kitchen ware, either at Towneley or, maybe, at the Weavers’ Triangle Visitor Centre, when they are re-opened.

Please give this your consideration. I hope that you agree with me that this once important local industry should not be forgotten.