MILLS were once the lifeblood of the settlements that now make up Aireborough - employing large swathes of the population and creating vast wealth for the owners.

Over many decades the demise of the area’s mills become an all too familiar pattern - but in Guiseley one company has bucked the trend and is still going strong after more than 180 years.

Abraham Moon & Sons was founded in 1837 and is still thriving today. The original owner, who gave his name to the business, was described as a figure of ‘considerable standing’ in Guiseley. He supplied local families with yarn to weave cloth on hand looms in their homes. He would then pay the weavers for the woven cloth, which would be washed and hung out to dry in the fields before being taken by horse and cart for sale at Leeds market.

Business prospered and in 1868 Moon had a three-storey mill built on Netherfield Road - not far from his house at the top of Oxford Avenue - bringing the dyers, spinners and weavers together under one roof.

But less than a decade later the successful mill owner was killed in a tragic accident.

A newspaper report from 1877 said: “Mr Moon was attending the annual Yeadon feast in his horsedrawn carriage. When a band struck up, the startled horse bolted down Henshaw Lane. Two passengers managed to jump clear and were unharmed but Mr Moon stayed in his carriage trying to calm the horse.

“In its panic it tried to turn into a familiar lane where there was no room for the carriage. The vehicle demolished part of a wall into which Abraham Moon was thrown. He died soon afterwards from a head injury.”

Abraham was succeeded by his son, Isaac, who was equally successful -and by the 1890s the company was exporting as far afield as Japan. At one stage the mill had it’s own branch railway line spurring off from the Guiseley line.

In 1902 the original mill burned down and it was replaced with a larger single-storey mill. In 1909 Isaac died when he was taken ill after watching England play in a Test match at Headingley.

In the 1920s the Moons moved out of the business, and their shares were bought by Charles H Walsh, the mill manager and designer, who borrowed £33,000 to finance the deal.

Today Moon has carved a niche for itself as a supplier of top quality products. It is a strategy that has enabled it to keep going when many others have been forced to shut down. In 1950 there were seven woollen manufacturers in Guiseley - now there is only one.

Known in the trade as a vertical company Moon sees the material through from the 'sheep’s back to the retailer’s shelf’, rather than specialise in one particular aspect of the production.

They are the only one of their type in England to do this - and among a handful in the whole of the UK.

The top names they have supplied to include Paul Smith, Burberry, Daks, Marks and Spencer, Ralph Lauren, GAP, Gucci and Prada.

These pictures, from Aireborough Historical Society, show some of the many people who have worked at Moon's over the decades.While the names of some of those pictured are known many others are not. One of the images shows a works trip to Blackpool. Marjorie and Ben Robertshaw are third and fourth from the right, in the row nearest from the camera. A canteen photograph shows Alan Pearson, John Parker, Danny Spence, Brian Moorehouse, Anna Yeadon, Valerie Beaumont, Jean Elliot, Pat Wilkinson and Kath Marsden. Christine Green and Marjorie Sedgwick can be seen working at the woollen mill in 1977.