AN HISTORIC manufacturing firm is continuing an industrial heritage dating back more than 130 years after overcoming business problems.

James Proctor Biomass Ltd, who have been based in Burnley since 1875, are moving this month to new premises at the Lomeshaye Estate in Nelson.

The firm was formed by Burnley’s James Proctor, who first came up with the idea for stoking boilers automatically 135 years ago while working as an engineer in the town.

His experiments resulted in the first patent for his invention in 1875 which he named `Proctor`s Mechanical Stoker`.

Almost 50 more patents were taken out for improvements, modifications and alterations during the next few years.

The firm traded from premises on Hammerton Street and later Cow Lane and as late as the 1960s employed around 150 staff.

But the he company went into decline with the onset of eco-friendly technology and went into administration last summer.

However Andrew Proctor, 49, a fifth generation descendant of the founder, has revived the firm, which employs five, pinning his hopes on manufacturing boilers which run on renewable energy.

Mr Proctor said: “There have been difficulties and we had to leave the premises at Cow Lane but I’m hopeful for the future.

“The market for coal-fired equipment declined in this country but we have had orders from USA, Canada, Poland and Indonesia.

“Our bio-mass boilers use materials like wood chips and food by-products like oat husks to create energy.

“Our big achievement in this field has been a £2m contract for two units Dairy Crest in Cornwall where Prince Charles unveiled the technology.”

The former Cow Lane premises are to be converted into industrial units.