The Ballad of Bliss Tweed Mill

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This song, The Ballad of Bliss Tweet Mill is written and performed by Andy Danford.

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  1. Dear Andy, Poignant, stirring and beautiful. Please would you come and perform this at the Bliss mill Strike commemorations here in Chippy which I am organising again on 18 Dec this year. Mike will explain! Comradely best wishes, Steve Akers
    (either email me or if you prefer ring me on 07903 870695 if you can).

  2. Nice to know someone else has also written a song about our mill. Lovely work, but I think you’re being a little harsh on my Great Grandfather ‘William III” who was struggling with global changes in the wool trade when the family finally left the business (largely because of losing vital trade in the USA following the civil war). He had the same ethos as his father, ‘William II,’ who built the current building, and was rewarded by Napoleon III for having done most to “promote the social and moral welfare of his workpeople.” The Blisses were actually utopian socialists and exemplary employers who did much for the people of the town. This is well documented and supported by our own archives. But as the business gradually got into difficulty, the Birmingham Banking Company gradually took more and more control until in 1893 the entire workforce was paid off over one weekend, and only 300 re-employed the on the Monday – to the horror of the family, who did not want this to happen or think it necessary. Then in 1895 the business was made into a limited company, with the family as co-directors with their solicitors and accountants, but this was too much to bear, so 1896, after 140 years, the family quit the business and left Chipping Norton (“Clogs to clogs in four generations”). Under new management the mill’s fortunes began to recover, but worker relations worsened, and trouble flared during the General Strike of 1913-14, by which time my family was long gone. The mills then was sold to Fox Brothers of Wellington, Somerset in 1920. By strange coincidence it was later bought by a chap called Cordeaux. William’s wife was Fanny Cordeux (without an A).

    This is my song – which conflates Williams II and III but is I hope a fair reflection of how they were viewed by most employees.

  3. Tom, that’s interesting. Good to have the link to your song about the Bliss family’s ‘utopian socialism’. I think the song (and Mike Richardson’s pamphlet) make clear though that the real villain of the piece was Arthur Dunstan – maybe Dunstan Avenue should be renamed in favour of your ancestors. Interestingly my great-uncle Jack Hieatt (strike leader drummed out of town when the strike collapsed) later joined Moral Rearmament (!) and would probably have seen W M Bliss as a good example of the paternalist human face of capitalism and certainly better than the current ‘Chipping Norton Set’ (Cameron, Clarkson et al). Lots to argue about. Incidentally I have some ‘silken leather’ – a jacket from a nearby charity shop made of ‘Saxony’ cloth which I was told probably came from the mill.

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