Littleborough’s History

Lancashire Tannery

A now largely forgotten industry was the Tannery (pictured below). The Lancashire Tanning Co Ltd was set up by a German Company, Adler and Oppenheiner, who had a large number of Tanneries in Central Europe and had been looking to set up a British subsidiary. This was reportedly to provide a safe haven for senior personnel and around 25 Jewish Families. The bulk of their employees were local. The tannery took over the disused Atlas mill and after much work began processing in 1937. Purchase of the mill also brought ownership of Stubley Hall where the senior director lived. To provide sufficient water for the processes the tannery had a bore hole besides using water from the adjacent River Roch. It also possessed its own water treatment works. The Tannery originally produced ‘Upper Leather’ used in boots and it was estimated that some 66% of the military boots used during the 2nd World War was produced by them. Subsequently the Tannery switched production to cover ‘fashionable leather’ often used in Ladies Shoes and Handbags. These exquisite upper leathers were sold worldwide. Ultimately, the business was sold being eventually closed down and asset stripped during the 1960s & 70s. After being used for other purposes the site was cleared for redevelopment to form Riverstone Bridge housing estate in 1998.


An excellent series of Aerial Photographs of the Lancashire Tannery in Littleborough (as per example below) are available from the English Heritage website

Aerial View of the Lancashire Tannery Site (now  housing occupies the whole of the site)