The former William and Frances Lapworth home at 85 Adin Street.

Hopedale Village Cemetery

    Hopedale History
    October 15, 2016
    No. 310
    William Lapworth, Part 3

    Hopedale in October   

    During the past two weeks, additions have been made to the following pages on Philip
    Callery (Information from the American Air Museum in Britain.)     Deaths   


    During the winter the hockey team played out a schedule of five games, winning all. In the annual Tri-county
    League track meet held in Hopedale, the boy's team lost first place by a margin of one point, but the girls
    won first position in their section. The cross-country team, in competition with four other teams over the
    local course, was declared the winner. During the past fall this same team easily won the two meets held.
    On account of poor weather in the spring, the baseball team played only ten games, but won nine. From the
    report of Principal Winburn Dennett, 1928.

    May 7 (1940) - Hopedale, the home of the largest cotton loom manufacturing plants in the world, and one of
    the richest towns in the state, now boasts a tax rate of $25 per thousand, a cut of $2 over the 1939 rate,
    making one of the lowest rates in the state. Newspaper report.


                                                                    William Lapworth, Part 3

    With the closing of the Hopedale Elastic Fabrics Company, William Lapworth was out of a job--for a few
    days only. Promptly he bought the old storage battery car barn near the station in Milford, and with his large
    family of sons and daughters and a few looms from the Worcester companies, plus a loan of $35,000
    started a business of his own. Soon he was once again supplying elastics to George Frost & Co., makers
    of the famed Boston Garter. The Lapworth business grew rapidly, eventually totalling 88 looms.

    William Lapworth prospered in a large way, built a big mansion on Adin Street, Hopedale's millionaire road,
    had his coach and liveried servants and enjoyed letting his neighbors see that he could take his fur coat as
    seriously as they. William Lapworth made his hard-headed sense, perseverance, adroitness in
    overcoming obstacles and determination to be atop the heap pay him large dividends but he failed to apply
    his common sense to the handling of his sons. In the end he defeated himself by taking his sons into the
    business as William Lapworth & Sons, driving them, giving them small authority and ever regarding these
    able men as children and, truth be told, the sons were ever scared pink of the old man. Nothing is her set
    down as malicious criticism but a critical study.

    William Lapworth was deservedly the recipient of much adulation and as a self-adulator he had few
    superiors--he strongly concurred in the thought "Blow your own horn, else the same shall not be blown."
    Devoid of academic education but marvelously sure of himself, he had gone a long way from poverty in
    England to wealth in America and no one, so far reporting, ever unhorsed him in combat.

    Among his patents stands out the famed Police Suspender web, always in demand. He was first to make
    webs with twill weave.

    Had Billy Lapworth been less adamant in his stubbornness he would have left a thriving business, to which
    the services of his sons had liberally contributed, to be carried on to the glory of a rugged individualist.
    William Lapworth & Sons dates from 1896.

    Living until he was ninety-three, he did not let go his grip until nature called a halt. In the latter years when
    age began to slow up his activities, Lapworth drew heavily on the resources of his company and stubbornly
    failed to spend money to maintain the plant in position to meet competition.

    By will Lapworth left his money to his three daughters, the impoverished business to his sons who had
    remained with him. The eldest son, Charles A., had flown the coop shortly after the start of the William
    Lapworth mill, having left because fully fed up with things past and present for which he could not stand.
    Leaving a business to men who had long been treated as children, a business that had not been kept
    abreast of the times in methods and machinery, a business lacking sufficient capital to run it, leaving it in
    the depressing times of the 1930s when the PWA and the WPA "in our door yard bloomed," proved a bitter
    pill to the valiant sons who had put their lives into William Lapworth & Sons, Inc.

    The business was closed in 1943 and the 88 looms were scattered, mostly in small lots to the various
    aspiring weavers in Pawtucket.

    Always a terrific driver, William Lapworth stubbornly managed to have things his way and if in the light of
    experience it seems he short-changed himself on common sense it is doubtful, could he be reached, if he
    would admit it. By those who knew him well, he is credited as having stubbornly defeated himself. In
    England he had gotten a taste of class oppression and was determined to show the aristocrats of
    Hopedale that he recognized no superiors. William Lapworth lived and died a subject of the sovereignty of
    England. Clifford A. Richmond, The History and Romance of Elastic Webbing, 117-119.

The Lapworth Family and Business             Hopedale History Ezine Menu                 HOME