Richard Sutcliffe (1849 – 1930) was an Irish-born mining engineer and inventor. He was born at the height of the Irish potato famine on a farm in Co. Tipperary, Ireland on the 26th January 1849, the son of Joseph Sutcliffe and his wife Rachel (nee Deeves), the descendant of a settler from England. Richard was the second of three sons and one daughter born to Joseph and Rachel Sutcliffe, who were both Protestants in what was very much a Catholic community.
When Richard Sutcliffe first moved to Horbury he lived on Northgate in a house near the vicarage, which was still, in 1901, occupied by the 90 year-old Rev. John Sharp and two other clergymen. Later, in 1905, the Sutcliffe family removed to live at Chestnut House, Daw Lane, Horbury, where a blue plaque was erected in Sutcliffe’s memory in 2009 by Horbury Civic Society.
Sutcliffe selected a factory, on the site of the Benton Park estate, to start the construction of his belt conveyors. He renamed the factory, which originally had been the old Dye Works Mill, which lay partly within the Horbury boundary, at the bottom of Benton Hill as “Universal Works” because he felt his conveyors were of universal application and were suitable for working above or below ground. Dye Works Mill had been built in the early 1800s and was destroyed by fire in 1873.
Stonebridge House, which had been the home, at different times, of Charles Hagenbach, the confectioner & Charles Roberts, the wagon manufacturer, became the management suite of Fletcher Sutcliffe & Wild, the successor to Richard Sutcliffe Ltd.