Batley, a small market town in 1800 is transformed into a thriving industrial textile hub by 1850, the catalyst of which is largely the discovery of one man (Benjamin Law). In secret and at a time of the Luddite revolution, murder, hangings and armies formed by mill owners for their own protection, veils his method of shredding old clothes into recycled fibres (shoddy) as a cheapening agent, which he blends with new wool to help with spinning. With competitors on his tracks, he sends his third son (born to his second wife and one of 15 children in total) with a small cargo of shoddy cloth to develop new markets in the US. His son, John, returns with a handsome profit but, when Benjamin plans to send him back to the US with an even bigger shipment, John is not happy and vows never to return. With no news of John, Benjamin travels to New York only to find that someone from England named John had set off for New Orleans some months earlier before an outbreak of yellow fever was declared. Benjamin returns a broken man. By this time, others had stolen his idea, embarking on one of the greatest transformations of the industrial revolution. He moves away to Lancashire unable to witness his losses amongst his community and dies in 1837 aged 65. The numerous towns in and around the heavy woollen (Birstall, Bradford, Brighouse, Dewsbury, Halifax, Huddersfield, Morley, Leeds and Ossett) flourish, many inhabitants get rich and the world is provided with cloth that many had previously been unable to afford. Fifty years after his death, his sister places a headstone in Batley Cemetery and the Batley History Group erect a plaque on the town’s Library over 100 years later – otherwise nothing! Outside the heavy woollen district, few people were aware of the shoddy trade. Those living and working within it were unlikely to ever enlighten them or declare their own involvement. This situation tended to arise more from a sense of embarrassment than a duty of silence to their employers. Howley Mill (above), attributed to Benjamin Law’s secret experiments.