Richard Whitaker was one of thirteen children born into a very poor family in Rawtenstall in 1829. By the age of six, he was working in a cotton mill.
This was not unusual for children of the time; they were cheap labour, serving the activities of the industrial revolution.
What was unusual, though, was that Richard Whitaker ended up managing the mill he worked in as a boy.
After several years in the cotton mills, he went to work as a traveller for the firm of Howard & Bullough in Accrington, which manufactured textile machinery. He came to be so trusted that he was sent by the firm to manage their spinning mills in Montreal, Canada. On his return, he became a director of Howard & Bullough. This successful career led him to be a wealthy and much respected man. When he retired he moved to St Anne’s where he died in 1906. His was a tale of ‘rags to riches’.