CLITHEROE’S last surviving mill has been taken over.

Weaving company James Thornber Limited, which has occupied Holmes Mill in Greenacre Street since May 1906, has been taken over by Bill Collins who has worked at the firm for a decade.

The new owner, previously a commercial manager at the firm, completed his takeover at the start of this month safeguarding 50 jobs.

The 47-year-old, who has worked in weaving since leaving school at 16, said: “The acquisition secures weaving in the mill for the forseeable future.

“We are a very proud company and have a large client-base and during this economic recession we have managed to keep going below the radar and it is my intention to makesure that we continue trading in the future and keeping the workforce in employment.”

In December 2006, the firm, which has played an important part in Clitheroe’s heritage, celebrated its centenary.

It now mainly produces furnishing fabrics and curtains, supplying some of the top names in the market including DFS.

Mr Collins said: “We use traditional methods to produce quality fabrics and our success is based on the designs that we create.

“The recession has affected the weaving industry but we have adapted to these challenging situations and we will continue to do so.”

Thornber’s was started as a family business with the premises leased from Alderman Parkinson.

Founder James was the grandson of Benjamin Thornber, a farmer and handloom weaver from Rimington, who started his own mill in Burnley in 1840.

James bought the premises in 1913, along with the steam engine which powered the mill until 1972, when all the looms were converted to electric drive.

After the First World War the company experienced a boom as Britain was the main manufacturer of cloth.

In 1962, the mill was equipped with 140 Northrop Automatic looms, which meant that the firm could move into furnishings.

Until recently, two of James’ sons, Mark and James, became the sixth generation of the family to run the mill.