June 1, 2008
No. 109
Hopedale History
Lapworth Elastic Fabric

Hopedale in May          Memorial Day      Hopedale Walking Tour   

Little Red Shop Museum Progress Report   

For those you who are interested in the return of the G&U, here are a few sites, with photos and discussions, sent by John LaPoint of Grafton.
NE Photo Archive           A discussion of what’s going on these days at the G&U.
Peter Metzke suggested that I put a link to
this page of Hopedale High sports history. (Lots of good stories there. Too bad it doesn’t include one of the undefeated basketball team of the ‘50s. --  56-57, I think it was.)


  Up into the 1890s, the part of Hopedale we think of as the home of Draper Corporation was actually the site of a number of companies, including the Sawyer Spindle Company, the Dutcher Temple Company, the Hopedale Elastic Fabric Company, and several others. All of them, however, were owned and managed, in part at least, by the Draper family, and in 1896 they merged into one company.

  “With the new loom on the market, the firm of George Draper & Sons and the various subsidiary companies in Hopedale for which they were selling agents were combined in a single corporation. Draper Company took over the business in December 1896, with the three Draper brothers of the third generation as principal officers of the company.” (Five Generations of Loom Builders)

   The elastic fabric company, established by William Lapworth, eventually moved to Milford. Here’s more about the venture. (
Click here for a longer version.)

A Top Elastic-Web Manufacturer

by Gordon E. Hopper

   William E. Lapworth & Sons, a firm once located off Depot Street [Milford] that was owned by William Lapworth, was engaged in the manufacture of elastic and non-elastic fabrics. It employed 125 workers and the plant was equipped with 88 narrow looms. More recently, the large building was occupied for several years by "Grandma's Attic."

   Lapworth was born in Coventry, England on March 3, 1844. He gained his early experience in weaving in his native land and in 1870 he came to the United States. He was first employed as an elastic weaver by an English house in Connecticut, and his knowledge and skill were at once recognized. Subsequently, he worked for the Boston Elastic Fabric Company of Chelsea and next he became associated with the Glendale Elastic Fabric Company of Easthampton in the capacity of manager.

   He was one of the organizers of the Hopedale Elastic Fabric Company of Hopedale, remaining a stockholder and general manager of the business for 11 years. Then he embarked in elastic webbing independently. His inventive genius and thorough understanding of the work resulted in his producing many patents, all of which were regarded as indispensable in the production of elastic web and he became the pioneer manufacturer of elastic twill. He also invented the elastic web from which the celebrated policemen suspenders are made and he introduced various other weaves of equal value.

     His plant at Milford covered about two acres and was the last word in equipment, commercial stability, skillful workmanship, superior management and perfection of product. the business ranked among the foremost in elastic web manufacturing in the country and was conducted in a most systematic manner, everything being done according to a most thoroughly worked out system in the offices and in every department of the plant.

   A number of the looms produced the beautiful and dazzling colors of the "Boston Silk Garter," each loom being devoted to a particular color. There was a finishing department where the last touch was added to the beautiful fabric of elastic webbing and then neatly rolled, ready to be packed.

   Lapworth was regarded as an expert on rubber, from the time it was taken from the tree until it was formed into the smallest thread and only its finest product was used by this company.

   Lapworth gave equal attention to the welfare of his workers, in which connection he gave most comprehensive study to the ventilation of the immense weaving room, so that pure air was conveyed to every section, there being two large skylights which were operated from the floor and two powerful fans that could be regulated immediately. The output was from 12 to 14 million yards annually, the capacity of the weaving department being about 20 yards per minute.

   The product included only high-grade goods, principally silk web of every shade and color and of varying widths for garters, hose supporters, arm bands, etc., and was sold to both wholesale and retail merchants.Milford Daily News, July 6, 1996.


Recent deaths:

Constance E. (Thompson) MacGregor, 70, May 17, 2008

Stephen J. Jastremski, 67, May 19, 2008.

Lydia M. (Mantoni) Fitton, 93, Upton, May 21, 2008.

Hopedale History Email Menu                   HOME