James Bullough, whose portrait can be seen in the alcove of the dining room at Kinloch Castle, was born in about 1799 in Westhoughton, Lancashire. He was a handloom weaver, who was fascinated by the possibilities of improving on the looms and embraced the new power looms with excitement. He married Martha Smith and moved around the county, learning as he went about the different textile machines and also how to repair and improve them. This was unusual in a time when the machines were viewed with fear and suspicion. He and his family settled in Baxenden which at that time was a hamlet just south of Accrington. He leased Shoe Mill in Baxenden in 1852 (follow the link to a transcription from Mike Rothwell Industrial Archaeology of Accrington about Shoe Mill) and then Victoria Mill in 1856 (follow the link to a transcription from Mike Rothwell, Industrial Archaeology of Accrington about Victoria Mill). Both were used for weaving, twisting, carding and spinning. John Howard and James Bleakley had set up their Globe Works to produce textile machinery in 1853, but Bleakley pulled out in 1857 and James Bullough stepped in. The firm became Howard and Bullough’s; John Howard died in 1866 and it effectively became Bullough’s. The firm continued to grow. Of his three sons, James had decided that his third son John was the most suited to invention and educated him accordingly.
James was a perfectionist who liked to make sure that everything was done correctly. It was not uncommon for him to be up all night working at improvements. He stayed true to his humble beginnings, continuing to wear clogs and living a quiet life.
In 1868 James Bullough visited his daughter Betsey in Glasgow and while there was taken ill and died. His remains were brought back to Accrington for interment in the family vault at Christ Church. He had been a very popular and well liked man locally but the scope of his lengthy obituary in the Glasgow Herald demonstrates his importance in the textile world. While he never invented any of the major textile machines such as the Spinning Jenny, the Flying Shuttle or the Water Frame, the quantity and quality of the improvements he did make were extremely important and well regarded.
His obituary was in several papers including the Glasgow Herald of August 12 1868. Follow the link for a transcription of this article.
A biography of James Bullough was included in CROSSLEY, Richard Accrington Captains of Industry.