Lister’s Mill (otherwise known as Manningham Mills) was the largest silk factory in the world. It is located in the Manningham district of Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK and was built by Samuel Cunliffe Lister to replace the original Manningham Mills that were destroyed by fire in 1871. The mill is a Grade II* listed building, built in the Italianate style of Victorian architecture.
At its height, Lister’s employed 11,000 men, women and children – manufacturing high-quality textiles such as velvet and silk. It supplied 1,000 yards (910 m) of velvet for King George V’s coronation and in 1976 new velvet curtains for the President Ford White House. The 1890-91 strike at the mill was important in the establishment of the Independent Labour Party which later helped found the modern-day Labour Party. On completion in 1873, Lister’s Mill was the largest textile mill in North England. Floor space in the mill amounts to 27 acres (109,000 m²), and its imposing shape remains a dominant feature of the Bradford skyline. The chimney of the mill is 255 feet (78 m) high, and can be seen from just about anywhere in Bradford.
Powering all the machinery switched over to electricity in 1934. Before that huge steam boilers drove the mill. Every week the boilers consumed 1,000 tons of coal brought in on company rail wagons from the company collieries near Pontefract. Water was also vital in the process and the company had its own supply network including a large covered reservoir on-site (now in 2006 that area is a piazza and underground car park).
During World War II Lister’s produced 1,330 miles (2,140 km) of real parachute silk, 284 miles (457 km) of flame-proof wool, 50 miles (80 km) of khaki battledress and 4,430 miles (7,130 km) of parachute cord.