John Lyles

A Dewsbury Great.  

One of a select group of individuals born, bred or living in Dewsbury who have made their mark on their town and country. The Dewsbury Greats have featured in various exhibitions and publications since they were first researched and published in 1992.

Mill chairman chosen as one of the Queen's representatives in Yorkshire

DEWSBURY mill chairman Mr John Lyles brought honour and distinction to his home town in 1992 when he was chosen by the Queen to be one of her representatives in Yorkshire.

His prestigious appointment as Lord-Lieutenant involves arranging royal visits and deputising for Her Majesty at official functions, for instance the presentation of British Empire Medals

He comments: "I am greatly honoured by this appointment and am aware of the  responsibility that rests on my shoulders ”

John, a highly respected businessman, is chairman of S Lyles Pic, carpet yarn manufacturers and dyers, Earlsheaton, Dewsbury, one of the most prosperous yarn
spinning mills in the UK and one of the largest employers in this area.

photo of John Lyles

Mr Lohn Lyles in his uniform as Lord Lieutenant for West Yorkshire


Born and bred at Banksfield, Earlsheaton. he has lived and worked in the local community most of his life and has been involved in the textile industry for more than 10 years.

He was a Dewsbury magistrate for 17 years and was High Sheriff for West Yorkshire in 1985/86. when he was privileged to meet many members of the Royal Family. In 1987 he was appointed one of Her Majesty’s Deputy Lieutenants for West Yorkshire and in the New Year's Honours in that year was appointed Commander of the British Empire.

The ex-public schoolboy, who has worked in the family mill from being a youngster in his school holidays, has never asked an employee to do a job he himself was not prepared to do.


He has always been regarded as the company's best salesman and never been afraid to go "knocking on doors” to get orders to keep his large workforce in jobs.

”I would never give anyone a job that I am not prepared to do myself.” said the man who is still behind his desk by 8.30am every morning and who makes a daily tour of the mill to chat with employees.

THE yarn spun at S Lyles Plc has found its way all around the world and has been woven into carpets that have adorned the walls and floors of palaces and stately homes.

Over the years the mill has kept going when others have been forced to close, a fact which John attributes to his hard' working and loyal workforce.

He never forgets the contribution they have made to the company and holds an annual party for them at Christmas in a top class hotel.


In 1988 he took all his 350 employees on a trip to London to celebrate the mill’s 75th anniversary.

photo of John Lyle the businessman

Mr Lyles the businessman

JOHN Lyles took charge of the family mill, along with his brother Sam, on the death of his father Percy in 1958, at a time when technology and workstudy were dirty words in the textile industry.

With a university degree in textiles and a keen desire to make full use of modern factory methods. John was determined to streamline the mill and open up new markets abroad

He had worked in the mill as a youngster in his schooldays and had never been treated differently from anyone else His father, a Dewsbury councillor and later an alderman, had insisted from the beginning that none of his sons would come into the business just as his sons.

When John took over as chairman he quickly surrounded himself with engineers and technicians of his own age - ambitious, forceful and with new ideas.

“We became a young and optimistic group with confidence in what we were doing and 1 saw the potential of men with young ideas at a time when British industry' was stagnant,” said John.

John, always eager to learn new ideas, enrolled at night classes at Dewsbury Technical College to learn more about workstudy. The fact that two workstudy experts from America had been thrown into the River Colder by irate weavers at Wormalds and Walkers mill, because of the changes they were proposing, did not deter him.

The mill started exporting and quickly prospered under John's leadership, surviving depressions in the textile industry and recessions nationally.

In 1972 the mill went public and over the years its turnover went from £600,000 a year to £16 million.

photo of John Lyles as a young boy

John Lyles as a young boy


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