William Walker & Sons was a manufacturer of leather belting and other leather accessories.
The company was founded in 1823 by William Walker in the Lancashire town of Bolton. The original tannery was in King Street and the output was chiefly clog and shoe leather. Walker saw great potential in the manufacture of belting, for driving the new machinery in cotton mills and engineering works which were springing up throughout Lancashire.
Operations were transferred to Ridgway Gates Tannery in 1828. Rose Hill Tannery was opened in 1850 and grew to become one of the largest and most efficient tanneries in the UK and William Walker & Sons Ltd. became one of Bolton’s major success stories. The company made high-grade leathers for a wide range of products including shoes, handbags, belts, hats and briefcases.
Owing to the popularity of Walker’s “Dri-ped” leather, which was advertised as “the super leather for soles made from the finest hides obtainable”, Walkers decided to form a separate company to manufacture the product, and in 1914 Dri-ped Limited was established. In 1919 the former Jackson’s corn mill in Weston Street, Great Lever, was purchased to manufacture Dri-ped.
In c.1970 William Walker & Sons Ltd. was acquired by another leather merchant called the Barrow Hepburn Group plc. The Rose Hill Tannery was closed down in 1978 and in 2008 it was demolished.