Above - The William Lapworth house at 85 Adin Street.
Below - The Lapworth house after alterations.
Drawings from Lapworth patents for elastic fabric.
October 1, 2016
William Lapworth, Part 2
Hopedale in September
Draper Foundries - A Draper brochure from c. 1970.
In the past two weeks, additions have been made to the following page on hope1842.com: Deaths
Twenty-five years ago - October 1991 - Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton announces he will seek the 1992
Democratic nomination for President of the United States.
The United States Senate votes 52–48 to confirm Judge Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court of the
The 1991 Perfect Storm strikes the northeastern United States and Atlantic Canada, causing over $200
million of damage and resulting in 12 direct fatalities.
Fifty years ago - October 1966 - Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton found the Black Panther Party.
The AFL-NFL merger is approved by the U.S. Congress.
Grace Slick performs live for the first time with Jefferson Airplane.
Negotiations about the Vietnam War begin in Manila, Philippines.
News items above are from Wikipedia. Hopedale news from 25, 50 and 100 years ago from the Milford
Daily News and the Milford Gazette can be seen below this text box.
William Lapworth, Part 2
Following parental example, William Lapworth trained his children to be proficient weavers. the oldest sons
and daughters had worked with their father at Chelsea, and at the Glendale Elastic Fabrics Co., and when
the father was called to Hopedale he took with him a goodly team of Lapworth sons and daughters who
were well grounded in the manufacture of elastic fabrics.
The Drapers sent Lapworth and his oldest son Charles A. to England to buy up and bring to Hopedale
twenty goring looms from the defunct Rapp & Thetlow mill at Leicester, where William Lapworth had once
worked as a weaver. Upwards of eighty new looms were purchased in Worcester from loom builders later
to be combined as Crompton-Knowles Loom Works.
Many amusing stories are related of the autocratic way William Lapworth handled the Hopedale Elastic
Fabric Company, eek (?) the Drapers, and Lapworth methods of getting what he wanted out of the business
during the eleven years of its existence. Always masterful in exercising his dominating and domineering
qualities, Lapworth played his cards with adroitness and very close to his chest.
In the management of the Draper Company, there was considerable friction among the Draper brothers,
notably between General William F. and Eben S. In degree this carried into the Hopedale Elastic Fabric
Company and made William F. look with much favor on long trips to Europe.
It was during one of William F.'s long jaunts abroad that things at the web mill were brought to a showdown.
The free trade depression during the second Cleveland administration had tolled heavily on the elastic web
industry, atop of which came heavy claims from shoe manufacturers for gorings they held to be defective.
The trouble Billy Lapworth insisted, was the square needles used in stitching the gores into the shoes, the
square needles cutting the strands of rubber and allowing them to slip into the webs. All of this was
undoubtedly true but probably not the whole story. Just at this time, in order to make low prices so American
gorings would sell beside English webs flooding the market, smaller sized rubber threads were being
used and spaced farther apart in the webs than theretofore.
Between the acid complaints the Drapers had to listen to from their aristocratic shoe manufacturer friends
in the western part of Worcester County and the bluster of Billy Lapworth, under long-time, high priced
contract, General William F. Draper felt the need of a trip to Europe and during that time the sudden
success of the new Northrop looms caused the Draper Company to need more factory space and very
The story goes that Eben S. Draper lined up control of the Hopedale Elastic Fabrics, promptly shut in down
and sold the hundred looms to Kirby & Moore of Providence, sol them for twenty thousand dollars with the
stipulation that the factory must be vacated immediately. Thereby hands a tale that will be told elsewhere in
Eben S. Draper had won all his points; Lapworth was out--but not down, not by a jugful. He insisted on
being paid in full for the balance of his contract and, to make sure there were sufficient funds with which to
pay it, his is reported to have gone after the Mechanical Fabrics Company--the rubber thread supply--for
damages, claiming the rubber had caused the trouble the shoe manufacturers had experienced. He
thumped away until he secured a large reimbursement. Rubber thread manufacturers have suffered such
experiences both before and after the event here numerated. The History and Romance of Elastic Webbing
by Clifford A. Richmond, pp. 115-117. Next time, Part 3 - Lapworth establishes an elastic fabric company of
his own in Milford.
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Hopedale News - October 1991
Hopedale News - October 1966
Hopedale News - October 1916