In 1902 on an uninspiring tract of swamp land, Union Bleachery was begun by the J.B. Duke, B.N. Duke, and the Thomas Fortune Ryan interests. Since that trying year, the plant has been in continuous operation,
Originally called “Union Bleaching and Finishing Company,” it is the second oldest custom finishing plant in the South.
Workers came from surrounding rural sections and the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Orders were slow coming in at first. Employees would report for work and often sit out the time on the creek bank, wating for shipments of cloth to arrive by train.
During the early years of Union Bleachery, John W. Arrington assumed leadership of the struggling plant, and proved to be the spark that led to its steady growth. Upon his death in 1938, responsibility for the plant passed to his son, R. W. Arrington, who remained its head until his death in 1947.
The present management, having grown with the plant many years, has been continuously in charge of operations since shortly after that time.
Concurrent with the Fiftieth Anniversary, Cone Mills Corporation purchased Union Bleachery, thus continuing its solid position among the leaders of the textile industry.
“As of 1952″…today’s plant is vastly different from the struggling little plant built on swamp land. Having doubled and redoubled several times over the years, the plant now occupies nearly 40,000 square feet and possesses almost 400 acres of land.
The up-to-the-minute filtration plant provides its own water. The plant’s electric power is derived from its own turbine produced by the same steam generated from its boilers for processing.
Through the years, the security and well being of the employees has been of paramount consideration. Before Workman’s Compensation was required by law, the plant at an early date had made provisions for injuries occurring at work. The accident frequency average per 1,000,000 man hours for the past four years is 29 per cent below the average for the State
from 50 Years of Textile Finishing – Union Bleachery published 1952