The Clark Family
The history of the cotton trade is synonymous with the Clark family. In 1753, William Clark, a farmer at Dykebar, died, leaving a large family.
Too young to work the farm, they took employment in nearby Paisley. One son, James Clark, set up business in Cotton Street as a weavers furnisher and heddle twine maker. The heddles were made of fine silk, as that part had to be very smooth.
The supply of silk from Europe dried up, due, in the main, to Napoleons famous Berlin decree in 1806. This predicament caused James Clarks brother, Patrick, to turn his attention to perfecting a smooth, fine, cotton thread to supersede silk.
The new product was first marketed in 1812. Operating as J&J Clark, the brothers erected a factory at Seedhill. James Clark is credited with the invention of the wooden spool or bobbin. His customers were charged a half-penny for the spool. This was refundable when the empty spool was returned to him. Up to that time, thread was sold in hanks or skeins.
Robert Paul, his wood turner, set up his shop where the Town Hall now stands. The Seedhill Mills continued to prosper under the Clark family. Most of the factory output was for the home market, although they later erected a large mill at Newark, New Jersey. The company adopted the anchor trademark to thwart their imitators. They formed a limited liability company in 1896 and amalgamated with their arch rivals J & P Coats, that same year.