Industry in Dursley

Dursley has a rich and varied industrial history founded in the 15th century with woollen cloth manufacturing. The industry developed significantly over the centuries and by the beginning of the 19th century there were seven cloth mills in the town with many more in neighbouring parishes. Cloth manufacturing still exists in the valley to this day with the sole example of Cam Mills on Everlands now run by the Milliken company in the buildings once occupied by Hunt & Winterbotham.

The 19th century also saw the arrival of heavier engineering in the town with the establishment of R A Lister and Company which went on to become the town's largest employer with upwards of 4000 employees at its peak. R A Lister manufactured a range of petrol, paraffin and diesel engines which were, and still are, used in a multitude of applications worldwide. In 1986 the company merged with Petters Ltd. of Staines to form Lister-Petter Ltd. which is still the major employer within the town although on a much smaller scale following significant reductions in the workforce in recent years and demolition of most of the buildings in 2002.

Furniture production was another large employer in the town until 2003 when the last company, Bymacks Ltd. left the town to move to Chalford. Before moving into the old Lister training school (Victoria Works) and the press shop, Bymacks previously operated from a site in Boulton Lane which was itself once a brewery. Another factory that existed in this area of town was Harrold's, a manufacturer of machine drive belting. Dursley also played an important part in the pin-making industry and the "Pin Mill" in Water Street survives as evidence.

Bymacks Office Block, Long Street, Dec. 28th 2000
Copyright Andrew Barton

On Long Street, the carpet manufacturing firm of John B. Champion & Son operated for many years out of the Reliance Works before it went out of business and the buildings were taken over by the Bailey Newspaper Group which moved in from Kingshill Road. This company is still very much alive in 2003, still publishing the Dursley Gazette but now part of the Newsquest group. However the original Reliance Works buildings were demolished in the mid 1960's and replaced by another of a modern less attractive design.

Another famous resident of the town was Mikael Pedersen who manufactured the distinctive Dursley Pedersen bicycle in the late 19th and early 20th centuries from his factory at the old Pin Mill in Water Street.

Electrical motor production was yet another major employer in the town. Mawdsley's started up in 1907, having taken over the old Lister Electric Light and Power Manufacturing factory at the Rivers Mill on Uley Road. This company traded in the town for 93 years, leaving to move to Quedgeley in 2000.

Looking forward from 2003 it is difficult to imagine big industries ever returning to the town in their previous numbers but hopefully a resurgence in smaller businesses will offset some of this.