How did money from slavery help develop Greater Manchester?

The Thomasson family of Bolton

Quarries to cotton

The Thomassons were a Quaker family of cotton spinning industrialists. In the middle of the 18th century, Thomas Thomasson sold a small landed estate near Kendal and invested the money in stone quarries. The quarries provided the large flag stones used for block printing on calico fabric. A few years later, Thomasson decided to go into the cotton trade for himself, building a small mill on the Quarlton Road. The firm was not successful, and was dissolved at the beginning of the 19th century.

Thomas Thomasson died in 1782 and his son John became manager of the Old Mill at Eagley Bridge. In 1821 he too went into the cotton trade on his own at Mill Hill. John Thomasson's son, Thomas, born in 1808, inherited the business on his father's death in 1837. In 1841 he built the first of the Mill Hill factories, adding additional factories in 1853 and 1859.

Thomas Thomasson was a free trader, active in the movement alongside Richard Cobden, John Bright and Mr Fox of Oldham. His eldest son, John Pennington Thomasson (1841-1904?), became a partner in the business and later married Katherine Lucus, niece of John Bright.

Donations to Bolton

Through their business the family amassed a considerable amount of money, which enabled JP Thomasson to buy Mere Hall for Bolton. He presented this and the adjoining estate to the Bolton Corporation in 1890 at a cost of £10,000 for the purpose of a public park, art gallery and museum, also donating a further £5,000 towards any necessary alterations.

The Thomasson family also donated items for Bolton Museum's collection, including a bust of Samuel Crompton and natural history material including birds' eggs, nests and shells. After his death, JP Thomasson's widow provided money to enable the museum to buy the substantial Mason Herbarium for its collections.